Offsite Magazine - Issue 21 (January / February 2020)

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MARK FARMER Industry advocate and MMC Champion speaks about the future and developing the offsite market


LEARNING DFMA Nigel Ostime, Oxford Brookes University and introducing more offsite into architectural study


GLOBAL EXPANSION Robust growth opportunities expected worldwide for modular buildings in the decade ahead


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PREPARE TO PERFORM BETTER Welcome to the first Offsite Magazine of the decade and one that many will be picking up at Futurebuild 2020. Offsite will be a key topic at the show alongside how the built environment is dealing with the growing unpredictability of climate change.

FRONT COVER Hadley Group PRINTED ON: PEFC 16-33-576 paper stock by Buxton Press PUBLISHER:

Offsite Magazine is produced and published by Radar Communications: ©Radar Communications Ltd.

There is plenty to keep you occupied inside these pages, not least my conversation with Mark Farmer fresh from his appointment as the Government’s MMC Champion. Mark’s role is multi-faceted and he will be driving forward a sustainable long-term offsite market. In his words, part of the job will be to ‘cut through the noise, understand the policy context and reality… and prioritise activity that can be coordinated at a national scale.’ See inside for much more on what Mark is set to do.

Radar Communications Ltd, 5 Darwin Court, Oxon Business Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. SY3 5AL T: 01743 290001 SUBSCRIBE TO RECEIVE OFFSITE: This magazine is a bimonthly publication and the annual subscription fee for UK postage is £29.70 plus VAT for all six issues (£4.95 per copy). Visit ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT: Julie Williams // T: 01743 290001 E: SEND US YOUR NEWS: Gary Ramsay // T: 01743 290001 E: BACK ISSUES VISIT: FOR OFFSITE ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT: E: DISCLAIMER: The content of Offsite Magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publishers and are the views of its contributors and advertisers. The digital edition may include hyperlinks to third-party content, advertising, or websites, provided for the sake of convenience and interest. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication and do not endorse any advertising or products available from external sources. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the written consent of the publishers. All rights reserved.

The new decade sees a fresh government in place under a Conservative majority and as we went to press the impending ‘Brexit Day’ was set to kickstart the transition phase for trade negotiations. At least there is now a clear path ahead that can be planned for to some extent. More significant investment for the offsite sector from overseas has seen South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction joining forces with Elements Europe –

Professor Robert Hairstans from the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures at Edinburgh Napier University, also outlines how its Trimble Technology lab presents a unique opportunity to create the right environment for the next generation of industry entrants with the knowledge and skills to digitally enable a more sustainable built environment – something that we will be reading, seeing and hearing a lot more of throughout the decade and especially later this year, with COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November. Many thanks to all our contributors, advertisers and supporters!

Gary Ramsay

Consultant Editor Email:

• • • • • • • •


Skills, training and the continuing influence of digital technology on the PropTech sector is also at the heart of this issue. Nigel Ostime from Hawkins\ Brown Architects opens up on the collaboration with Oxford Brookes School of Architecture on developing a one-year module in Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and instilling more offsite thinking into building design.




a well-known modular manufacturer – by acquiring a significant shareholding in the company and set to invest in a smart way, embracing digital design and BIM.


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Our OJEU-compliant framework agreements provide public sector organisations with easy access to procure works, products and services for the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of social housing, schools and public buildings. LHC strives for excellence in the services provided to their clients and aims to deliver the best solution to suit every project’s individual needs. Our dedicated Client Support and Project Support teams are on-hand to assist throughout the life of the project. For more information on how our frameworks can work for you, get in touch.




36 | Catalyst for Change Futurebuild 2020, which takes place from 3-5 March 2020 at ExCeL London, will inspire professionals working across the offsite sector to come together to deliver a more sustainable built environment.

P26 | 2020 VISION




The construction industry must find solutions to the escalating housing crisis. Fortunately offsite construction presents an opportunity for change. Steve Chesters, Southern Framing Sales Manager at Hadley Group, outlines the benefits and role light-gauge steel frames can play in its growth.

Mark Farmer needs little introduction. Gary Ramsay caught up with him to speak about the state of the industry at the start of a new decade and his new role as MMC Champion in driving change and modernising the UK’s built environment.







It is time for more offsite methodology and thinking to be introduced into architectural study, says Nigel Ostime, Delivery Director, Hawkins\Brown Architects, who is part of a new wave of industry specialists introducing educational change in the way we design buildings.

Growth opportunities in the global modular and prefabricated buildings market look robust over the next six years with technology set to play a significant role, says Prathmesh Limaye, Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan’s Visionary Science Practice.



08 | Industry News

30 | Rewards for Innovation

News and developments from across the UK offsite industry and wider construction arena including: the design of new housing developments in England described as overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’, floating offsite hotels for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AIMCH look to help the housebuilding sector better evaluate productivity.

Specialist tax relief advisors Catax hosted the final Offsite Roundtable of 2019, which explored the challenges associated with the offsite industry’s limited exposure to Research & Development (R&D) tax incentives.

44 | Embedding Technological Thinking Professor Robert Hairstans from the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures at Edinburgh Napier University, outlines a new strategic partnership to digitally enable a sustainable built environment. 46 | Offsite – It’s About the People With a 42% increase in the last nine months in people seeking to access learning about offsite through the Supply Chain School there is clearly a demand, but as Ian Heptonstall, Director at the School explains – is this enough? 48 | Finding the Future Today The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the housing sector is changing the way tenants engage with housing associations. What can it bring to a flourishing rental market? Henry Jinman, Commercial Director of EBI.AI explains more. 52 | Emerging Realities 2020 To help the construction industry interrogate the practical potential of evolving technologies, tools, processes and materials, the Emerging Realities conference and exhibition will answer some of the challenging questions about the breakthroughs revolutionising the construction arena. 58 | A Changing Vertical Landscape Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems, take a look back on 2019 and show how modular construction is reaching new heights but also pick out a few key issues that need to improve within the offsite sector. 62 | Technical & Standard Developments The popularity of light steel framing continues to grow as does the uptake of offsite construction more generally. Andrew Way, Associate Director at SCI, provides an update on recent material developments. 66 | Adapting and Embracing Change Andrew Orriss, STA Assure Director for the Structural Timber Association (STA), discusses the organisations transformational journey and why adapting to change is crucial for those in the construction sector. 82 | Offsite Expo 2020 Offsite Expo got such overwhelmingly positive feedback in its launch year that the conference and exhibition is already shaping up to be a hugely pivotal event for the sector later this year.






The construction industry must find solutions to the escalating housing crisis that is reaching unsustainable levels. Fortunately offsite construction presents an opportunity for change. Steve Chesters, Southern Framing Sales Manager at Hadley Group, outlines the benefits and role light-gauge steel frames can play in its growth.

1 According to the National Housing Federation, an estimated 8.4million people in England currently live in unaffordable or unsuitable housing. It’s an issue that affects all aspects of society, from record numbers of young people unable to get on the housing ladder, to the millions of families stuck on council homes waiting lists. The startling figures highlight that we’re a nation that needs to start building, however uptake remains low. In 2017-18, only 6,463 social housing units were built in England, far below necessary levels. Likewise, UK homebuilders only completed 184,000 homes during the last recorded year of figures, which was way down on the government’s target of 300,000. A lack of available housing doesn’t just force people into uncomfortable accommodation. The issue has broad societal implications, which extend


across demographics. Most notably, the link between sub-standard housing and poor health has been wellestablished. Whether it be the physical effects of cold, damp properties, or the mental exacerbation brought upon by living in crowded spaces, sub-standard homes are a risk to those inside them. Furthermore, the issue disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in society. The elderly and economically disadvantaged are most likely to face the harsh effects of the shortage, which means its consequences are more likely to cause serious problems. For many years, the construction industry has looked for solutions to the ongoing problem. The effort has taken many forms and has yielded several promising solutions. The most appealing new approach is offsite construction. The method is quickly

2 being prioritised by the industry and government due to its exciting potential. Many in the industry first became aware of offsite construction after Mark Farmer’s pivotal ‘Farmer Review’ in 2017. The influential report, which called on the construction industry to ‘modernise or die’ extolled the benefits of offsite construction and advocated for its further adoption by major construction companies. For Farmer, the benefits of the approach were clear – offsite construction methods reduced the likelihood of delays, required less skilled labour and allowed projects to be completed between 30% and 50% faster than by using traditional methods. Since the report, there has been a noticeable uptake of offsite manufacturing techniques across the





British housebuilding sector. Multiple developers and housebuilders have already committed to embrace offsite to address the issue. The push for offsite adoption was further bolstered by the Government’s Autumn 2017 budget, which called on the Departments of Defence, Education, Health, Justice and Transport to favour offsite methods from 2019 onwards. Offsite methods are also being used on major construction projects like Battersea Power Station and the Leadenhall Building. As we begin to see more use of offsite methods, it’s important to understand what underpins them. More than any form of building, the quality of offsite construction depends on its individual structural components. There are a number of available options, but lightgauge steel frames are the premier choice. Constructed from lightweight cold-rolled steel, the solution offers a lighter, easier to erect alternative to timber and concrete primary frames. As such, the building envelope component can be fabricated to specific project requirements and pre-assembled in a controlled factory environment. What’s more, the robust engineered structure has the ability to incorporate joisted or concrete floors and the flexibility to support most external cladding systems. At Hadley Steel Framing, we are proud to offer an industry-leading light-gauge steel frame fabrication service. We provide a full turnkey solution, employing a dedicated offsite project design team to assist with all projects that we are involved in. As a company, we’re proficient in supplying structural external and internal wall panels that deliver high strength and low weight. Working with light-gauge steel allows customers to do more with less and can provide relative

savings on foundation loads and sizes, as the overall building weight is greatly reduced. Furthermore, thanks to the ease of installation opting for a light-gauge steel frame system can generate a 25% reduction in build programme. As mentioned, the benefits of offsite construction methods are not only reserved for housebuilders. Increasingly, commercial developments are utilising the approach to quicken build times and reduce waste. To this end, Hadley Steel Framing products have been used in a number of large-scale commercial projects across the world. At Heathrow Airport, more than 500 tonnes of structural steel was supplied to assist the renovation of terminals 5 and 2B. Likewise, within the ‘Shoe District’ of the Dubai Mall, 56 shops worked with Hadley Steel Framing to incorporate light-gauge steel into engineered shop fronts. Additionally, a selection of Hadley Steel Framing’s profiles has been selected by the development team for use in the worlds’ first zero carbon city enterprise, Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. What’s more, Hadley Steel Framing products have been widely used on high-rise buildings, some of which have reached up to nine storeys tall. Light-gauge steel framing is particularly suitable for use on tall buildings. The lightweight material enables more rapid construction and can help significantly cut build times. According to consultancy firm, Mace, offsite use on high-rise buildings can make construction six times more productive. We were recently involved in a major offsite project at the Depot in Exeter, which reached nine storeys. The £40million accommodation will soon house 500 students and used Hadley Steel Framing from conceptual

5 design through to installation. As we move into 2020, we’re excited to see our pre-panelised offsite bolted solutions used on more high-rise developments. As we move into 2020, demand for new housing is at an all-time high. For building companies, it’s time to abandon old, tired practices and adopt new, exciting building techniques. One method stands out above all – offsite construction. The practice has the potential to revolutionise the sector but must be understood. As such, it’s important those in the trade pay attention to the individual building components of systems and choose light-gauge steel frames where possible. Using a trusted, high-quality supplier, like Hadley Steel Framing will ensure this is the case and help construction firms to complete homes and commercial projects more efficiently. On the 3-5 March, Hadley Group is looking forward to returning to futurebuild 2020 as an Innovation Partner of the show, with a stand (E50) on the new Innovation Trail and a Hadley Group Bar. Visitors to its stand will be able to learn more about the range of high-quality light-gauge galvanised steel structural framing systems and how its benefits can be felt in a variety of applications across the world of construction, including offsite and modular construction methods. For more information visit: Images: 01-05. Light-gauge steel frame can be used for many building types and is particularly suitable for tall buildings



INDUSTRY NEWS Actis and STA respond to Future Homes Standard Consultation

MPBA See Modular Industry Thriving

Despite some recent reports that suggest government departments are slow in adopting offsite methods, the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) has commissioned research that shows volumetric modular construction is undergoing a period of considerable growth.

The construction industry has just a few more weeks in which to respond to the government's proposed revisions to Parts L and F of the Building Regulations – the first step towards its Future Homes Standard. Insulation specialist Actis has been working with the Structural Timber Association (STA) on the organisations’ responses to the proposals, which, once amended, are expected to come into effect in the latter half of 2020. The revised regulations will act as a stepping-stone towards the far more stringent energy efficiency requirements for new homes to be laid down under the forthcoming Future Homes Standard, which should be in place by 2025. That in turn will play a key role in enabling the UK to meet its 2050 net zero target. The 98-page MHCLG (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government) Part L and Part F consultation document asks for feedback from individuals and companies working in the construction industry on a range of proposals covering energy performance, airtightness, ventilation and relevant routes to compliance. It also looks at transitional arrangements to ensure builders can't evade revised rulings by obtaining planning permission before changes are implemented and building to retrospective standards too long afterwards. A key section of the document sets out two alternatives for a reduced Target Emission Rate – a choice of a 20% or 31% CO2 reduction. While Actis’ UK and Ireland Technical Director Thomas Wiedmer (pictured) and his colleagues, understandably, support the more stringent option they are suggesting greater focus on the principle of fabric first and


recommending that the government-proposed U-values for walls be improved from a target of 0.26 to 0.22 or 0.21 W/m2K. The government document suggests the lighter option, supported by the STA, could be delivered via very high fabric standards, while its hardcore alternative would have slightly less stringent fabric requirements and the addition of technology such as solar PV panels. This scenario would add an estimated average of £4,847 to the build costs and save the householder £257 per year on heating bills. That would give the industry five years to work towards the government's 2025 aim of reducing CO2 emissions from new homes by 75-80% compared with current levels. Thomas explained: “We and the STA are of the opinion that energy efficiency standards should always be based on reducing the need for energy first and in particular limiting the heat loss through thermal elements – that is through achieving excellent U-values, reducing thermal bridging and improving airtightness – the fabric first principle. Reducing the heating energy demand through a fabric first approach is the only practical way to achieve net zero carbon homes in reality.” Actis and the STA are also supporting the MHCLG's call to include build quality guidance into the revised Part L regulations to help builders eliminate the performance gap and reduce thermal bridging. The deadline for responses to the consultation document is 7 February 2020. For more information and to comment visit:

Over 50% of membership provided detailed financial information to support the MPBA's survey report commissioned through the University of Salford. MPBA Chief Executive Jackie Maginnis said: “The MPBA report showed that the volumetric modular industry is thriving across all sectors. For example, at the heart of the education sector, the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) requested 450 new school facilities per annum. Modular construction has proven to be best-suited to meet such a demand due to its repeatability of units, environmentally conscious methodology and minimal disruption to existing school facilities. “Meanwhile, complex construction projects throughout the leisure sector require developers to cut costs, improve timelines and reduce onsite risks while maintaining building quality and durability. Modular construction is again best positioned to achieve this through its high performance, timeline savings of up to 25% and net savings of circa 7%. “Perhaps most challenging, the housing sector relies on modular and volumetric construction to work towards solving the housing crisis. Law firm Pinsent Masons report that 15,000 modular homes are already built every year. The Guardian reports that the government proposes to make modular construction key to the build of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid2020s. We can see that volumetric modular is already core to government plans for the future. “Many contemporary architects are embracing volumetric modular to achieve striking facades with bespoke designs - hugely beneficial across all sectors. If we take a wider viewpoint on the adoption of modern methods of construction, it is clear that many project developers are already making good use of volumetric and modular technologies to achieve productive, successful outputs, and plan to build on this.” Source:


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INDUSTRY NEWS Chinese Win for Foster + Partners Foster + Partners has won the competition to design the new offices for Alibaba – the Chinese ecommerce giant – in Shanghai. As a new signature building for the company, it is set to showcase their unique working culture to the public. Following a modular approach, the design will utilise offsite production for quality control, reducing wastage, and minimising on-site operations to create an efficient construction programme. Luke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners said: “We are delighted to be designing the new Shanghai offices for Alibaba, the world’s largest online retailer and e-commerce company. Our design emphasises the importance of communication, the integrity of the working community and above all, the creation of an image that reflects the standing of Alibaba. The scheme is truly designed from the inside out, centred on a dynamic, sheltered public space capitalising on its amazing location with its views of the Huangpu River and the Bund.” Situated at Xuhui Riverside – a new, vibrant part of the city – the building boasts stunning views of the Huangpu River and the Pudong CBD. The building is formed around a central heart that opens up to create a large public urban room, inviting people in. This creates an active social core, with viewing terraces overlooking the central space as well as the building’s principal entrances opening onto it. The building is designed to

Updated Eurocode 5 Published

be extremely transparent, allowing people a glimpse into the world of Alibaba as well as preserving views to the outside. The unique building form has been guided by an innovative design process that uses a genetic algorithm to evolve the optimal massing. The algorithm combines several aspects that are crucial to the project such as, being highly responsive to the environmental conditions, maximising outside views, and the specific area

The Manual for the design of timber building structures to Eurocode 5 (2nd edition) is now available – helping engineers maximise timber’s potential while meeting the requirements of Eurocode 5. The Manual is co-published by the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and TRADA. The revisions were authored by Dr Keerthi Ranasinghe with oversight from a specialist task group. The Manual provides guidance on the structural design of single-storey and medium-rise multi-storey buildings and supports the design of timber building structures to BS EN 1995-1-1 (Eurocode 5), together with its supporting codes and standards, within the UK. This will be the first new edition since the Manual’s launch in 2007 and incorporates the changes made to Eurocode 5 since its initial publication, ensuring its enduring relevance. “It is now fifteen years since that first full version of Eurocode 5 was published and much has changed,” says Richard Harris, Task Group chair of the Manual in his foreword to the 2nd edition. “Eurocode 5 offered a more rigorous standard as compared with its predecessor and also enabled pan-European collaboration in research and practice. This has enabled the full potential for timber to be released, and the extent and scale of timber engineering in the UK has expanded enormously. It is, therefore, now timely for the publication of this revision of the Manual.”


requirements for different functions, to create the most appropriate form. The design optimises the massing to provide the best year-round user comfort in the central public space, protecting it from strong winter winds and the harsh summer sun, while creating tailored workspace solutions for the different departments at Alibaba. Source:

The 2nd edition includes code changes to sections on material properties, bearing capacities, connections, glulam, racking, and fire, along with the insertion of new sections referencing CLT and the new product standard. In addition, further amendments have been made which take into account the feedback of readers and consulted practising engineers. Revising author Keerthi Ranasinghe said: “It was vital that we updated the manual considering all the amendments that were implemented in not just Eurocode 5, but all the supporting standards as well since 2004. By far the leading resource for timber engineering, the new edition ensures that it will continue to be the must-have reference for engineers and specifiers who are keen to work to Eurocode 5.” IStructE Head of Publishing, Lee Baldwin, says: “The first edition has served the profession brilliantly for more than a decade, but it’s great that we’ve been able to work closely with Keerthi, the expert steering group, and our co-publisher TRADA to bring such a valuable technical resource up to date.” TRADA’s Publications Manager, Jacquie Shanahan, added: “Partnering with IStructE once again enables us to help structural engineers continue to build dynamic, innovative buildings while ensuring their continued high quality. At the same time, a revision by an author of this calibre ensures the longevity of a widely used resource.” Source:


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INDUSTRY NEWS CoreHaus Making National Progress An ambitious North East housebuilder is showcasing the benefits of an innovative modular building design on the national stage. Newton Aycliffe-based Homes by Carlton has been trialling the new-style design, CoreHaus, on several local housing developments in a bid to slash build costs, reduce the amount of time spent on site and lessen the impact on the environment. The firm’s Managing Director, Simon Walker, has now embarked on a mission to spread the word about CoreHaus outside of the region. Simon Walker said: “Developers and other property professionals are trying to work out ways of building affordable, quality homes efficiently and at relatively low cost. Not only are we having to battle a skills shortage within the industry, there are also things we can’t control, like inclement weather which reduces the amount of time workers can realistically spend on site. The market says we need to move towards a solution where part of the construction takes place offsite. With CoreHaus, this is possible.” CoreHaus homes offer the flexible combination of being part modular, with a standard, engineered core that can then be configured to different sizes. A modular core including a pre-finished kitchen, downstairs toilet, staircase, bathroom and central heating system are manufactured offsite before being delivered to the development. This is then followed by the external walls and roof being constructed to reduce build time.

Creagh Set to Accommodate Market Growth

Assembled in factory-controlled conditions, this energy-efficient housing ‘pod’ can help reduce onsite construction time by 50%, increase flexibility in the design of the home and cut CO2 emissions. “CoreHaus homes have character and are built to a high level of craftsmanship,” added Simon Walker. “They’re environmentally sustainable, relatively quick to assemble and the reduced build costs result in a faster return on investment. CoreHaus is a transformative development that could really make a positive difference in the fight to bring more affordable homes to the UK.”

CoreHaus is a joint-venture company between Carlton & Co Group, the parent company behind Homes by Carlton, and national social enterprise Fusion21. The innovation has been trialled on Cathedral Gates, a mix of 14 three and four-bed detached and semi-detached homes in Chilton, eight miles from Durham City.

Creagh Concrete has invested £1million in new offices to accommodate the company’s growing workforce. One of the UK’s largest producers of concrete products for a range of market sectors, Creagh operates from five sites across GB and Northern Ireland, including its head office and largest manufacturing site in Toomebridge.

“We believe that Creagh is leading the market with innovation in concrete, providing new solutions across the construction industry. Our turnover to 31 March 2020 will be £110million and, based on the pipeline of contracts secured, we expect turnover to grow to £200million by 2020/21. We hope to increase direct employment to 1,000 in the next year, growth which will support a lot of additional employment in our local community.”

Privately owned by the McKeague family, the company has grown significantly in the past two years to now employ over 700 staff, including 300 at its primary location. To accommodate the expansion, a new 6,500 sq. ft. office block has now been completed next to The Elk complex on the Hillhead Road and staff from Creagh’s Rapidres team have moved in. This team are responsible for the design and delivery of prestigious, offsite bespoke concrete building systems. Creagh Concrete’s Chief Executive, Seamus McKeague, said: “We’re proud to open these new offices, which were needed because of the rapid growth of the business. In recent years Creagh has moved from being just a concrete and materials supplier to a specialist subcontractor, which has opened up new opportunities. Today, some 85% of our turnover comes from Great Britain and we are also seeing new opportunities unfolding in the Republic of Ireland.



Creagh Concrete’s latest construction projects include Circle Square, a six-storey hotel on top of a nine-storey car park in Manchester and St. Martin’s Place, a 17-storey premium residential development in Birmingham, both due for completion soon. Other multimillion-pound contracts won recently include a seven-storey apartment block in Chatham Waters, Kent, a 17-storey five-star hotel in Portland Street, Manchester and a 14-storey apartment block in Sutton Court, Surrey. Creagh Concrete has the largest prestressed manufacturing plant in the UK and has gained market share due to the efficiency and performance of its products, including its Spantherm thermally efficient flooring and Rapidres, the offsite fast-track build system. Source:


INDUSTRY NEWS New App For Modular Housebuilding Modular housebuilder Built & Spaces has created its own software that helps it turn a customer’s dream into a fully-constructed house in just ten weeks. The Build My Home software — designed in-house in an industry first — lets customers assemble their new home room-by-room on the computer, adding different modules to meet their needs for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and other living areas. Built & Spaces’ unique component-led system allows unparalleled customisation in the design stages and minimises waste during manufacture and construction. One week is allotted for the design process, but for one time-sensitive project the firm’s staff were able to complete the blueprint for a four-bedroom house within 24 hours. Manufacture of the panels for the project is carried out to the firm’s exacting specifications over eight weeks before being checked for quality. Foundations are laid over two days, before the frame and panels are assembled on-site by Built & Spaces staff within a week. The Build My Home software creates an inventory of all parts required for the build, meaning that customers’ quotes reflect exactly what elements are used. Labour costs can be estimated

accurately as on-site construction is not affected by weather and other delays, as other building methods can be. Both of these factors mean that customers’ quotes are accurate, and not subject to guesswork and inflated mark-ups of traditional builders. Steve Wilkie, Director of Built & Spaces, says: “Everything we do is based on making the process of creating your own house easier and quicker. Our unique app lets customers create their home roomby-room, adding the spaces and features that are most important to them. Customers can be standing inside their constructed house just ten weeks later thanks to our unique component-led system that lets our staff assemble the home by hand on-site.

“I don’t believe that any other modular housing company can build a customer’s house so quickly, while offering such a personalised design. Nobody else is pricing houses this way. We are literally counting the nuts and bolts needed for the project and removing the guesswork to provide an accurate quote for the customer.” Built & Spaces is working on a web-based version of the Build My Home software that will allow customers to design their house from the comfort of their own living room. Source:


The Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Home (AIMCH) has published a research report to help the housebuilding sector better evaluate productivity and respond to future demands. The report examines construction productivity measurement and protocols and brings a new, more effective way for businesses of all sizes to use data to demonstrate the value of offsite construction. AIMCH is a collaborative innovation project involving major private, public and academic partners set up in 2019 to transform how the construction industry builds homes. This is the first output of the £6.5m project which is already being welcomed by the construction industry and in wider sectors including transport and infrastructure. The research, carried out by the University of Dundee in association with Whole Life Consultants and managed by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), is one of the most comprehensive the industry has undertaken. The wide-ranging literature review examined previous construction productivity measurement studies in order to make recommendations on the following key metrics: Safety, Productivity, Quality, Cost, Time, Predictability, Efficiency and Material Waste (in all 66 metrics were reviewed). Professor Malcolm Horner, Research lead and Chair of Whole Life Consultants, said: “The aim of the review


was to aid AIMCH and its partners to understand the current measurement landscape and to influence the way in which partners choose to measure productivity. The key recommendation is that partners use this report and the guidance to evaluate and select the metrics objectively. Partners should look at metrics in terms of simplicity, widespread use, cost and how well they relate to their strategic objectives and conditions.” The research consortium engaged in dialogue with AIMCH partners throughout the review to ensure the final report guidance delivered useful and actionable findings that would enable partners to support the faster delivery of high-quality homes, more reliably and at the same cost as masonry-built homes. The report findings are proving to be of interest across the construction industry and in wider sectors including transport and infrastructure. Simon Cross, who leads the measurement work for the Construction Leadership Council’s Innovation in Buildings workstream (demonstrator projects, measures and business case working group), said: “The Construction Leadership Council’s Innovation in Buildings work stream team are pleased that the AIMCH project metrics of Safety, Productivity, Quality, Cost, Time, and Material Waste are aligned to the published Smart Construction Dashboard. Aligning metrics across the housing sector will enable small, medium and large supply chain businesses

to demonstrate the value of smart construction and respond consistently to future demands. Measuring data in this way is a much welcomed and major leap forward for the housing sector.” Alan Johnston, CSIC Project Manager, Strategic Programmes added: “The report is the first output from the three-year AIMCH project and provides clear recommendations on productivity metrics for organisations. Initially scoped as a piece of work that would inform and influence future AIMCH workstreams, we are delighted that it has the potential to deliver tangible benefits now to the wider construction industry, and indeed other sectors who have also shown great interest, including transport and infrastructure.” The £6.5million AIMCH R&D project is a collaboration between Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments PLC, London & Quadrant Housing Trust Ltd, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Forster Roofing Services Ltd. Further research and development from the AIMCH project is planned over the next three years. The research will be trialled on live housing projects, with successful new methods then being commercialised and brought to market in volume. Source:


Modern Methods of Construction We work with industry to help deliver long-lasting quality homes. n From component materials and design, to onsite installation and connection n System appraisal and acceptance n Inspection of the whole building to NHBC Standards n Backed by NHBC Buildmark warranty and insurance.

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RO21 01/20

INDUSTRY NEWS New Offsite Office for Homes England

RCM Secured New BBA Approval

RCM have announced that three products have successfully achieved BBA approval – the Supertech Weatherboard, Multipurpose sheathing board and Renderflex render carrier board.

Located in the heart of Cambridgeshire’s major Northstowe development, the flagship office and flexible exhibition space has been officially opened by the Housing Minister Esther McVey. The building design combines offsite technology with the vernacular craft of coppicing and willow hurdle making, resulting in a unique hybrid purpose-built space. The flagship office and exhibition space forms a new south eastern base for the UK Government’s housing agency – Homes England – and is located within phase 2 of Northstowe to the north of Cambridge. The design of the office explores innovative ideas for structured and informal work environments: a response to the working pattern of Homes England employees. The 620sqm workspace champions offsite construction which form a defining feature of the Northstowe New Town masterplan, whilst bringing Homes England close to its projects and partners during the second phase of the development. Accommodation includes dedicated workspaces for permanent staff, and offers adaptable, flexible working areas for more temporary and collaborative uses. The open-plan office space includes meeting rooms, breakout spaces and conference facilities, plus a ground level multi-use space for public consultation events, exhibitions and presentations. The design of the building was inspired by the local heritage of the rural Cambridgeshire Fenland location on the former RAF Oakington barracks. The focal feature is the dramatic architectural form of the roof canopy, manufactured by local craftspeople using woven willow hurdles – traditionally used as fencing enclosures – set within steel frames. The overhanging roof creates a prominent landmark, which when observed from the south resembles a canopy of trees or the wings of the WWII Stirling bomber, inspired by the history of the former RAF site.


The building’s rich textural character continues with an ‘open weave’ of vertical black stained timber battens that wrap around the ground and first floor office spaces, concealing window frames and glazed ventilation panels. Large clear openings to the central atrium breakout space, reception area and stair wall punctuate the ‘woven’ surface at ground level. Proctor & Matthews worked with offsite construction specialist The McAvoy Group on the full offsite solution for the building. Its flexible design means the office can be easily re-configured and adapted for alternative future uses. Stephen Proctor, Founding Director of Proctor & Matthews said: “The new office and exhibition space demonstrates how modern methods of construction can be harnessed to respond to local context and culture: here creating a flexible 21st century work environment for an edge of Fenland location.” Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, added: “This new office – built using modern methods of construction – emphasises our ambition for Northstowe to be an outstanding place with quality design at its heart. By locating Homes England staff on site, we demonstrate our commitment to working closely with partners and the community. It’s a fantastic place to work in an exceptional location.” Raymond Millar, Construction Director of The McAvoy Group said: “This project successfully demonstrates the potential of offsite construction and how the approach can realise an ambitious architectural design and deliver a high-quality and flexible office environment.” commercialised and brought to market in volume. Source:

RCM offers a wide portfolio of building boards and facades, with its popular A1 non-combustible Y-Wall fibre cement building board having already achieved BBA accreditation a few years ago. Recently, RCM applied for BBA accreditation for three additional products and after having undergone rigorous testing, an approval was achieved for all three. RCM are highly delighted with this prestigious outcome, confirming the outstanding quality of their sheathing boards, render carrier board and weatherboard façade. The latest BBA certifications relate to three of RCM’s popular products: Multipurpose, RCM’s A1 noncombustible, cellulose fibre cement building board. With its excellent strength, weathering and mechanical properties it is the perfect choice for multiple applications, especially for buildings over 18m. Renderflex, RCM’s A2-s1,d0 fire rated cellulose fibre cement render carrier board, offering excellent strength, weathering and stability properties when used in conjunction with polymer renders. Supertech Weatherboard, a simple to install, fully-ventilated cladding system, which has an appearance similar to that of traditional timber cladding but the durability and strength of cellulose fibre cement. “We are very proud of achieving the acclaimed and trusted BBA certification for our products,” said Ian Quinton, Managing Director, RCM. “This accreditation will further bring great reassurance to our customers and highlight the high-performance and reliability of RCM’s products. “It also enables us to give confidence to architects, contractors and designers to specify and install the RCM range of materials, whether the product is being used on its own or forms part of an overall solution, both in internal and external applications. We believe that the BBA certification will open up new opportunities for RCM and help us to break into new sectors and markets. We look forward to ongoing business growth and the opportunities which will present themselves.” Source:


INDUSTRY NEWS UK Construction Sector R&D Spend Reaches Record Sum The UK construction industry has increased its R&D spending to a record high of £351million, the latest ONS data has revealed. The total amount spent on R&D by businesses in the construction sector rose 9.7% annually, analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Catax shows. This was a rise of £31million year on year, according to the latest ONS statistics for 2018. Catax believes this is partly due to the increased interest in developing offsite construction, an area that is soaking up huge resources as the country seeks to become a world leader in offsite construction. The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%. Manufacturing was associated with £16.3bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%. The telecoms sector plotted the largest percentage increase in R&D spending, climbing 25.4% to £947m. The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.

Mark Tighe, Chief Executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said: “The construction industry is a huge employer in this country but contributes a relatively small amount to the UK total of R&D spending. However, the sector is experiencing some interesting changes, not least the rapid growth of offsite construction methods. This is likely to be a contributing factor behind this large jump in overall R&D spending last year. “More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders

above the long-term average. For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU. The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.” For more on R&D Tax Credits and the Offsite Sector see page 28 for this issue’s Roundtable hosted by Catax.

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INDUSTRY NEWS CSIC Set to Inspire Future Construction Skills

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has launched its Future Skills Strategy to put future generations in the driving seat for innovation in the industry. The new strategy will put the technology that’s unlocking innovation in the sector in the hands of school pupils, college and university students as well as industry leaders. Building on the success of the BIM in Practice and College Innovation programmes, the new strategy will unlock partnerships with schools, further education providers, public sector partners and industry. A range of interactive courses and activities will help to widen participation and educate young people about the career opportunities available within the industry, and what those roles might look like in the future. Rohan Bush, Head of Public Partnerships & Future Workforce, at CSIC said: “Simply telling young people that they could have a great future in construction isn’t that effective. But let them play with the tech that will be part of that future, and they come back wanting to know more. We are really excited about this new strategy and the opportunities it offers. The increased use of digital technologies is changing how we work, and gives real opportunities to work smarter, efficiently


and more sustainably. The new programmes also offer those currently working in the industry the opportunity to expand and develop their skills and knowledge.”

construction, Mimbus woodcutting and paint spraying modules and the Virtual Building Element Environment (VBEE).

CSIC is working collaboratively with a number of partners to deliver new activities. The Play with the Future programme will give school pupils the opportunity to experience the future of construction by utilising pioneering equipment housed within the Innovation Factory. Other elements of this programme will encourage them to consider the design and build aspects of smart homes for an ageing population. They will also get the opportunity to be hands on with collaborative robots to see how they might work alongside people in the future.

In VBEE, users will be set a task to build either a house, an industrial unit or an offsite modular building, and will be presented with a range of scenarios. The decisions they make during the process, including the selection and use of materials, technical specifications, and processes used, will be presented and evaluated on completion. This programme, which is funded by CITB and led by Construction Wales Innovation Centre, can be used not only by young people considering a career in construction, but also apprentices and workers already employed in the industry. Virtual reality helps to give learners a thorough overview of all aspects of a project and also helps to foster a culture of collaboration, understanding and appreciation of other roles and the impact they have on each other. These programmes are especially important as the industry looks to drive productivity and growth, and create a workforce that is innovative, dynamic and globally competitive.

Elaine Ellis, Skills Planning Manager at Skills Development Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with Construction Scotland Innovation Centre team to showcase the innovation and skills opportunities within the construction industry.” Another programme activity, Construction Virtual Reality Training (CONVERT) will offer learners the opportunity to experience different immersive learning environments including working at height, the use of drones in

Source: future-skills




The offsite arena is an exciting place to be. The levels of investment and confidence in the long-term viability of advanced offsite methods of construction, is greater than previously witnessed. Much has been written about the benefits of offsite technologies and the impact these progressive building methods will have on the construction industry but taking the build process into controlled factory conditions has far reaching implications and requires a change of mindset and approach. 2020 OFFSITE HOUSING will bring together industry leaders and pioneers to discuss the latest innovations in offsite technologies and the growing opportunities that the housing shortage presents.

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INDUSTRY NEWS NG Bailey To Support UK’s First Battery Industrialisation Centre

Trimble Open University Technology Lab

Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) has been gifted equipment and software by California-based Trimble to establish a state-of-the-art Technology Lab for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). The lab will expand the University’s leadership in training and research in 3D building design, digital fabrication and the sustainable built environment. Partnering with Trimble allows ENU to more fully integrate across its curricula the technological tools that are rapidly transforming how buildings and living environments are designed and constructed. The lab will equip students with knowledge of the latest thinking in how to plan, design, build and manage engineering projects. NG Bailey’s Engineering division is delighted to have been appointed to support the creation of the UK’s new centre of excellence for battery technology – the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC). The UK’s leading independent engineering and services business has been appointed as Principal Contractor for the prestigious £126million development which will see the creation of a new facility to develop the latest electric car battery technology near Coventry. The contract, worth £14.6million is being delivered on behalf of a consortium of Coventry City Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at Warwick University. The facility, which is backed by Government investment, provides a boost to the UK’s ambition to lead the world in the development of zero emission vehicles. When complete in early 2020 it will play a crucial role in enabling the UK to prepare its home-grown battery technologies for global competitiveness and will provide a stepping-stone towards the creation of a UK ‘Gigafactory’ – a large scale battery technology factory for electric vehicles. Duncan Smith, NG Bailey’s Operations Director Midlands, said: "We are delighted to have been selected for this ground-breaking project. As well as showcasing our own design, engineering and offsite manufacture expertise, we are also supporting innovation and industry best practice to deliver a greener future for the UK.” NG Bailey began work on site in October with the fastpaced project due to be completed in Spring 2020. The company will deliver all mechanical and electrical services for the development the majority of which –


including more than 6km of pipework and 100 heavy-duty service modules – will be manufactured offsite at the company’s specialist facility in Bradford. Offsite solutions include production of horizontal multi-service modules and an innovative space-saving multi-service bridge structure which will help reduce the amount of space needed to house the building’s essential services and maximise useful production and working. These techniques will also shift more than 17,500 hours of work away from site helping to create a safer working environment and reduce on-site congestion. Duncan Smith added: “By being involved in the early stages of the project we have been able to incorporate innovative offsite solutions which will dramatically reduce the amount of time needed on site speeding up the construction and also deliver tangible benefits to the end users. Jeff Pratt, Managing Director of UKBIC, said: “Phase one of the building shell construction has been completed and NG Bailey is due to start work on the second phase, so the build project is really starting to gather momentum. UKBIC’s open access process facilities will play a pivotal role in helping the UK to become a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of battery technology for electric vehicles and other applications. We are looking forward to working with NG Bailey on the next phase of creating our exciting new home.” Pictured: Jeff Pratt from UKBIC (left) with Duncan Smith from NG Bailey. Source:

The Trimble Technology Lab will provide students enrolled in ENU’ School of Engineering & the Built Environment, including architectural technology, civil engineering and project management programmes, with hands-on experience with Trimble solutions. Applications of these solutions range from scanning buildings or sites, design and 3D printing of architectural building models and digital fabrication to implementing construction cost estimating and scheduling to improve productivity and reduce costs. Allyson McDuffie, director of Education & Outreach at NASDAQ-listed Trimble said, which has more than 11,000 employees worldwide, said: “We're extremely excited to be establishing a state-of-the art Trimble Technology Lab in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier. Our mission in transforming the AEC industry requires that we invest in aspiring designers, architects, contractors, engineers and project management professionals by driving awareness of, and access to, industry-leading solutions for training and research.” Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “We are proud to be joining forces with Trimble to create the first dedicated Trimble Technology Laboratory in Scotland. Our next generation of architectural technology, engineering, sustainable construction and surveying professionals at Edinburgh Napier will be able to experience and apply cutting-edge solutions to realworld built environment problems thanks to Trimble’s pioneering support.” For more on the developments at the new Trimble Technology Lab from Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Robert Hairstans see page 42




Tristan Parsons, Managing Director of leading UK balcony specialist, Sapphire Balconies, provides some answers on designing and manufacturing balconies using offsite processes. Q: What is the biggest challenge with putting balconies on buildings using offsite? Transferring the structural loads into the building. On a traditional RC frame building the large cantilever forces from the balcony are taken by the RC floor slab. On other frames consideration must be taken at the design stage to ensure the load is properly managed. Q: Which balcony materials should I consider? Aluminium is much lighter than other materials so reduces the forces going back into the structure, making it far better suited to offsite processes.


Q: Should balconies be installed in the factory or on-site? We recommend installing balconies to the building on-site, avoiding double handling, allowing larger building modules to be transported, and reducing lorry movements as balconies can usually be stacked on a trailer. Q: Is there a risk of bouncy balconies and how is this best avoided on offsite schemes? Firstly, early design engagement. The risk of bouncy balconies is higher than with RC frames, so it’s important to engage early on to ensure that the necessary structure is designed in to take the balcony loads.

1 Secondly, ensure structural brief includes deflection study. It is extremely important to ensure that the structural engineer designs the supporting elements not only to resist the loads but also carefully assesses the deflection that will result from movement within the structure Finally, balcony projection – especially with offsite – works better to keep the balcony projection down where possible (e.g. a 6x1.5m balcony is better than a 4x2m balcony) For more information visit: Images: 01. Balcony installation to a building is best completed on-site.

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INDUSTRY NEWS Offsite Can Deliver on Brownfield Developments

Research released by EDAROTH, a new subsidiary of engineering, design and project management consultancy Atkins, highlights the scale and opportunity of so-called ‘brownfield sites’ – previously developed land in urban areas that is not currently in

use and is often deemed too difficult to build upon due to factors such as remediation costs, size, shape and site access. “In England alone it has been estimated that we need to deliver at least 300,000 new homes a year – a target not achieved in almost half a century,” says Mark Powell, Managing Director, EDAROTH. “In addition, England needs to deliver 90,000 new homes every year for social/affordable rent – levels not achieved since 1980. We believe brownfield sites offer the potential to tackle social housing waiting lists across the country, providing development space for affordable homes in the places people and families originate, work and want to live.” The report, entitled ‘Unlocking Brownfield Land - A Social Housing First Policy’, found that there are almost 18,000 sites across the country (25,000), with the capacity to support the development of at least 1million dwellings. With the most recent social housing waiting lists suggesting there is a need for about 1,114,000 homes, brownfield sites clearly offer a significant opportunity for the Government to develop affordable homes using faster, low-cost modern construction methods which are suitable for dealing with the unique challenges of building upon such sites.

In 2018 around 169,000 homes were built, of which only 17% (29,000) were delivered for social housing. In the same year there were 1,114,477 households on housing waiting lists, representing 4.04% of England's households. EDAROTH’s report calls for accelerated growth in social housing and a renewed focus on brownfield land development, including: the adoption of modern methods of construction including offsite manufacturing techniques to accelerate the delivery of new homes across the UK and enable the development of brownfield land previously deemed too difficult to develop. It also calls for procurement reform to create innovative and dynamic frameworks which encourage new entrants and support new and emerging house building solutions which can accelerate the delivery of new homes across the UK EDAROTH is currently delivering a pilot scheme with Lambeth London Borough Council. The four modern and spacious family homes which are in close proximity to transport links and local services, have unlocked a parcel of brownfield land previously deemed unsuitable for housing. Source:

ADMARES to Deliver Floating Hotels at FIFA World Cup 2022 In preparations to host the 2022 World Cup, Qetaifan Projects has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ADMARES – a world leader in alternative real estate with pioneering construction methods. The MoU includes the construction and operation of 16 floating hotels on the shores of Qetaifan Island North to provide accommodation for the fan villages during the 2022 World Cup. The hotels have a unique design – 72m long and 16m wide – each consisting of 101 guest rooms, a restaurant, and a lounge bar. All of the 16 four-story hotels will be identical, offering a total of 1616 floating hotel rooms. ADMARES turnkey modular construction and pre-assembly solutions allow the majority of the construction and outfitting to take place offsite. By minimising disruption and greatly reducing on-site construction time frames. The signing of the MOU comes through the desire of Qetaifan Projects and ADMARES to deliver sustainable solutions with minimum ecological impact as the hotels will be built according to the strictest energy standards – the hotels will rely on solar energy. The hotels have been designed by the awardwinning Finnish architect firm, Sigge Architects.


“This is the first time ever that pure floating real estate has been used as a temporary solution for accommodation needs at this scale,” said Mr. Mikael Hedberg, CEO of ADMARES. “These hotels do not require major ports and deep water as their draft is significantly less than large cruise ships. After the World Cup, the hotels can be placed at any coastal location where the water is at least four metres (13 feet) deep. We are excited to be part of the solution for the amount of accommodation needed for the FIFA World Cup 2022.”

Qetaifan Island North, located off Lusail City (where Lusail International Stadium will host the opening and final games of the FIFA World Cup 2022) spans approximately 1.3 million sqm with 830,000 sqm of attractions, featuring seven beaches – making it the city’s main waterfront destination. Source:


INDUSTRY NEWS “Planning authorities are under pressure to deliver new homes and are therefore prioritising numbers in the short-term over the long-term negative impacts of bad design. At the same time, housebuilders have little incentive to improve when their designs continue to pass through the planning system. Some highways authorities, meanwhile, do not even recognise their role in creating a sense of place for communities. Collectively, housebuilders, planning authorities and highways authorities need to significantly raise their game. This can’t come soon enough.”

New Housing Design in England ‘Poor’

Tom Fyans, Campaigns and Policy Director at CPRE added: “The Government has presided over a decade of disastrous housing design and must raise standards immediately. This research is utterly damning of larger housebuilders and their failure to build the homes our communities deserve. They must significantly raise their game if we are to create the sorts of places that future generations will feel proud to call home. It’s no wonder so many of our communities feel apprehensive towards new development when the design is so poor. That’s why significantly improving the quality of design is central to addressing the housing shortage."

The design of new housing developments in England is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit conducted by UCL for CPRE, the countryside charity, and the Place Alliance. ‘A housing design audit for England’ reveals that 75% of new housing development should not have gone ahead due to ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’ design. The report, an audit of over 140 housing developments built across England since 2007, found that one in five of these developments should have been refused planning permission outright as their poor design was contrary to advice given in the National Planning Policy Framework. A further 54% should not have been granted permission without significant improvements to their design having been made first. The audit also found that: • Less affluent communities are ten times more likely to get worse design, even though better design is affordable • Low-scoring housing developments scored especially badly in terms of character and sense of place, with architecture that does not respond to the context in which it is located • The worst reported aspects of design include developments dominated by access roads and the poor integration of storage, bins and car parking, leading to unattractive and unfriendly environments with likely negative health and social implications. Professor Matthew Carmona (The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL) Chair of the Place Alliance, who led the research, said: “Research has consistently shown that high quality design makes new residential developments more acceptable to local communities and delivers huge social, economic and environmental value to all, yet we are still failing in this regard across England.

The audit proposed a range of recommendations for the Government, housebuilders and local government. The Government should be more prescriptive in seeking less sprawling densities, as more compact developments tend to be designed more sensitively. Housebuilders need to drive greater ambition across the sector in order to advance a more ethical approach to the design of development that prioritises the long-term social wellbeing of their customers and the health of the environment at large. Local authorities need to use proactive design codes – design parameters established for each site – and design review processes for all major housing schemes. Local authorities also need to end the current disconnect between highways design and planning aspirations when it comes to new housing areas. Schemes which do not meet minimum requirements should be refused on design grounds and this should be supported, without question, by the Government regardless of progress towards meeting housing targets in the area. The audited schemes were chosen because they reflect the typical volume housebuilder product. The average size of schemes audited was 382 units (dwellings) and the average site size was 11 hectares. The advisory group was made up of individuals from CPRE, Home Builders Federation, UK Green Building Council, Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, Civic Voice, ARUP, Design Council, Academy of Urbanism/URBED and Urban Design Group. The supporting consultancies were ARUP, JTP, Spawforths and URBED. The full report can be found here:

Spatial Initiative Appointed to £3bn DfE Framework

Spatial Initiative – the joint venture between Styles & Wood and ESS Modular – has been appointed to a new £3bn Department for Education (DfE) modular schools framework. The appointment will see Spatial Initiative join a panel of contractors that will deliver 30 new primary and secondary schools per year for the next four years across the UK. Spatial Initiative was established to combine ESS Modular’s knowledge of modular construction with Styles & Wood’s expertise in fast-track project delivery in complex live environments. This appointment marks the fourth successful framework selection for the company who has secured 16 new school builds with a combined value of over £100million over the last two years. Sarah Morton, Director Spatial Initiative said: “We are delighted to have been selected as one of the contractors to work with the DfE on this new ambitious schools framework. We are excited that modern methods of construction are being increasingly recognised as the ideal solution to deliver the quantity and quality of educational projects required to provide outstanding learning spaces for pupils. This new framework builds upon the work already undertaken in component primary and secondary school frameworks and is designed to enable the industry to develop and innovate modular offsite techniques as we move towards DfMA in the future.” The new DfE framework highlights a continued shift in government preference towards offsite construction for newbuild and educational projects. The main objective of the framework is to appoint a panel of recognised contractors that can deliver schools which are cost-efficient, of premium quality, and manufactured predominantly using offsite modular techniques. Spatial Initiative has successfully been appointed to four schools’ frameworks over the last two years including the DfE Construction Framework, the Component Primary Block Framework the Component Secondary Block Framework and the DfE Offsite Framework. As part of the Component Primary Block Framework, Spatial Initiative recently handed over the new Pound Hill Junior School on the north-eastern outskirts of Crawley. This new school consisting of 12 classrooms, a sports hall and ancillary rooms over two storeys was required to replace an old building and temporary units that were being used to house the schools 360 students. Source:





A. Proctor Group are at the centre of innovative products for the offsite sector and has a range of construction materials suitable for the modular and offsite markets.


3 The role that modular construction will play in addressing the UK's challenges of decreasing construction capacity and skilled labour shortages is growing by the day. The benefits of offsite construction processes include reductions to programme length, waste and costs, along with higher levels of quality control. Modular construction offers clear advantages for new build housing, high-rise and commercial projects. The requirements of the burgeoning modular construction industry have resulted in the development of some of the most technically advanced materials to date. With speed and efficiency being prerequisites for the modular method, building materials are designed to complement the manufacturing process, protect the units during transportation, and support the performance of the completed building throughout its lifetime.


2 Industry Response to Building Regulation Changes With the industry’s renewed focus on fire safety and external cladding systems, the selection of suitable materials for high-rise construction including modular has never been more scrutinised. Following the 2018 Interim Report by Dame Judith Hackitt, the Government amended Approved Document B: Fire safety, limiting the fire rating of construction membranes used in buildings over 18m to European Class B-s3,d0. This change, meant to clarify one area of the regulations, created complexity in others. Some membranes, for example, could quote A2 fire ratings in order to exceed the regulation and gain market share. However, many of these membranes do not breathe sufficiently to comply with BS5250. As a result, if used in the UK, these membranes would be more likely to create conditions leading to interstitial condensation, mould growth and poor indoor air quality. The A. Proctor Group Ltd, with their history of supplying the industry with the highest quality construction materials for over four generations, has stepped up to this challenge by offering an extensive range of building products that support offsite construction and meet all of today’s regulations.

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Mark Farmer needs little introduction. His role in suggesting change and modernising the way the built environment is created has seen him become a major figure in the offsite sector. Gary Ramsay caught up with him to speak about the state of the industry at the start of a new decade. other departments beyond MHCLG and prioritise activity that can be coordinated preferably at a national scale. The post is annually reviewed and I know there will be a clear desire to make things happen within a parliamentary cycle for obvious reasons. I see the political focus on MMC at the moment as a real positive but I also want to make sure we do not make short term decisions that ultimately hinder the development of a sustainable long term MMC market.

1 Q: Your recent appointment as MMC Champion is the latest move from Government in taking offsite manufacture seriously at the highest level – what is your vision for the role and what do you want to achieve? Does the post have a timeframe? Mark Farmer (MF): To be honest, it is a formalisation of what I have been doing anyway for the last 3-4 years – acting as an advocate for change and to cause government and industry to reflect on what is an increasingly urgent need to reform how we design and construct buildings. The role has various components but primarily allows me to act as a bridge between government and industry and to advise on potential MMC-related policy interventions in the housing sector. There are lots of people in the sector with lots of opinions on what needs to change. Part of my job will be to cut through the noise, understand the policy context and reality, including with


Q: The role of ‘overseas ambassador’ for offsite is a very interesting development– tapping into international networks and trade opportunities etc. How do you envisage that working? Is the industry really worth a potential £40billion when mature? MF: I have built a strong international network based on interest since the 2016 publication of ‘Modernise or Die’. This has made it clear to me that most developed economies are facing the same structural deterioration in their construction markets as the UK. The approaches being adopted when it comes to adoption of offsite manufacture and MMC all vary but I’m very clear that we should all be sharing international best practice and experiences if we are going to avoid costly mistakes. Manufacturing and technology are also eminently tradeable in IP and product terms, so if we can lead the world in certain aspects of this then that by implication creates an export opportunity. Whether that is worth £40 billion or not remains to be seen but there is no doubt that a MMC-led industrial renaissance is a multi-billion opportunity for UK plc. The immediate priority though is the UK home market. As it stands, I believe we have a real short to medium-term need for imported market disruption

by world leading and proven offsite businesses to avoid a constant cycle of repeating the same mistakes. It is an uncomfortable truth that many who operate at a senior level in the UK offsite sector are only influenced or informed by what they have done in the past or the environment everyone has been forced to work within and not all of that has been proven to be successful or sustainable. We need to really inject fresh thinking into the sector that reflects the latest advancements in technology and is also driven by a new paradigm shift in how we approach quality, building safety and decarbonisation of built assets. This will no doubt mean initially importing some ideas and approaches and seeing how they can be made to work in UK. Q: The much publicised ‘presumption in favour of offsite’ by government departments seems to have stalled slightly – or at least been slow with contract awards. Are there any key reasons for this? How can this be improved/sped up? MF: I think the press coverage recently on this has been hyped up by those looking for a story but it is also fair to say that the industry is rightly looking at the government to lead by example. I know from my involvement with the government’s Smarter Infrastructure Working Group, which is responsible for co-ordinating via the IPA, the central government departments’ activity in this area, that a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure any move to MMC is scalable and sustainable. This starts with product definition, standardisation and data protocols. That work is time consuming but is progressing and the DfE are about to significantly disrupt the contracting market with major MMC-led frameworks for new school building.



2 I am under no illusions though that a wholesale re-education process also needs to start in central government as well as in local government and the private sector. Those responsible for procurement hold the keys to the transformation of how we deliver built assets. If we continue to buy on cheapest price and ask the wrong questions of the market, the ‘presumption in favour of offsite’ commitment will be meaningless. It is therefore important that the Construction Innovation Hub’s work to deliver an outcome-based procurement model mandated for employment by government is delivered as soon as possible. There may also be a need for other policy levers impacting procurement rules, building safety and carbon compliances to accelerate change.

a real need for much better data-led evidence capture of how digital and manufacturing processes lead to less embodied carbon as well as higher performing buildings. This could be a huge marketing tool for the offsite sector if it got organised around collaborative R&D and measurement protocols. The climate change debate has never been so highly politicised and there will be no reversal this time as we saw with the Code for Sustainable Homes debacle several years ago. For offsite to flourish it needs to prove its credentials when it comes to less process waste, better energy performance and improved circular economy characteristics. Anecdotal statements will not be enough.

Q: The pressure is on for a better national and global zero/low carbon built environment – what can the offsite industry do to play a large part in delivering that aim? MF: There is lots of talk about the move to offsite construction and broader MMC being critical if we are to transition to low and zero carbon construction and buildings. Although one would think this is intuitively the right answer, I have seen very little evidence proving this. I think there is

We also have one particular related contradiction to overcome if parts of the sector are going to grow not shrink moving forward. Timber is seen as a highly sustainable building material but is currently facing serious concerns in a post Grenfell world regarding its combustibility and we need to face into this thorny debate about how we square this circle? The timber industry bodies and the offsite sector need to work collectively to demonstrate safety through robust testing and better exploitation of technology to assure integrity of timber-based and multiple

material manufactured building systems or components. The points of weakness for many systems continues to be where manufactured products meet traditional site constructed elements. There is no benefit in using a high quality manufactured timber framing system to accelerate a watertight date if the follow on tradesmen on site do not complete a fire barrier install detail correctly. We must remember that MMC is purely a means to an end and if the end is not an improved outcome then it is all for nothing. That suggests to me that much wider cultural and institutional reforms of building inspection, assurance and sign off processes need to be embedded as part of a move to confident and insurable use of more sustainable building materials. The government also have to be clear here what they want to achieve by regulating a journey to low and zero carbon buildings. The proposed Future Homes Standard for instance needs to drive better fabric performance if it is to support MMC and we need new ways of measuring carbon if process waste minimisation and embodied carbon reductions are going to be properly rewarded. Zero carbon is not just about avoiding use of fossil fuels.



MARK FARMER Q: Where can the housebuilding industry truly improve in the way it designs and delivers newbuild developments to reflect changing demographics and need for futureproofed lifetime homes? MF: It’s not for me to tell industry how to design its products but what is clear is that there is a growing feeling that the developer market’s focus on returns has led to question marks over the quality of build – technically, functionally and aesthetically. We need to re-focus on the consumer – i.e. the occupant and their needs. We need much better information on how buildings perform and are used – i.e. the much vaunted post-occupancy evaluation that never seems to happen. The concept of adaptable buildings, with the ability to morph or be deconstructed, to enable people to either age in place or alternatively suit a wide range of lifestyles and different occupants is going to become increasingly important. The Planning system also needs to facilitate some of that change, including with a progressive approach to things like space standards, car parking and amenities policies. Despite a hope that our existing market will re-invent itself, I fear it will take outside disruption to improve the housing offer to UK consumers. I see that disruption coming from the technology world or from established international consumer centric manufactured homes players. Q: Digital technology, immersive platforms, AR/VR et al – all now seen as key to delivering customer focused and people-centric construction, plus bringing in a new generation and breed of professional – is this still a ‘mystery’ to many in the construction sector? Are things changing? MF: The benefit of digital adoption will continue to be a distant and irrelevant concept to many, mostly reinforced by engrained mindset and lack of understanding. Our industry needs more evidence (a recurring theme...) of why it should embrace technology. It needs to be linked to the financial bottom line and it needs to be much more accessible and contextualised for a broad variety of different businesses of different sizes. I think AR in particular has huge future potential because as the hardware improves it will be cheap and user-friendly and will enable


3 technology augmentation of mass army of traditional site-based workers. It will also support a narrative of a new breed of construction worker – a digital assembly technician rather than just a ‘tradesman’. Things are changing but slowly. There are real opportunities to accelerate change by sharing the benefits case of how technology can improve productivity and improve profit or at the very least, enable compliance in an increasingly onerous regulatory environment. Hopefully the government’s ‘Transforming Construction’ programme will produce some real world examples of technology applications that can be scaled up quickly and easily. Q: The lessons that construction can learn from manufacturing have been discussed at length – have you seen a move to a real understanding of this in your conversations with the housebuilding sector – especially the volume providers? MF: Not really. With a few notable exceptions the volume builder world still views MMC and offsite more with suspicion than as a route to opportunity. Unless it can deliver an early financially driven benefits case there is little incentive in major housebuilders to invest in R&D, piloting and trialling new products and techniques. Any area of change in the production process is often met by resistance if not in the board-room

certainly at site level. The cultural and behavioural barriers are immense. The drivers for change are slowly but surely turning towards a need to assure better build quality and certainty of outcomes but it is far too slow and needs stronger leadership. It will I’m afraid take some painful disruption and customers voting with their feet to accelerate change. Q: Your 2016 publication ‘Modernise Or Die’ has now passed into construction folklore alongside John Egan and Michael Latham’s landmark publications – with some time since its publication and space for reflection – did you think it would resonate in the way it has? You must be very proud of it? MF: I am indeed very proud of ‘Modernise or Die’. I re-read it for the first time recently and I think most of what it says still holds true. The government’s reaction to it has been heartening and has hopefully initiated a higher level political discussion on the importance of construction to our economy than we have had for some time. It has also prompted a significant industry debate on what the future holds. No one can change the industry on the back of just writing a report but I see the report as simply the beginning of a much broader change campaign, driving an ongoing debate that has caught attention and caused some to reflect. With external events such as Carillion’s failure, the Grenfell tragedy and the growing climate





change agenda all adding to the mix, I feel it is indeed perhaps the time for industry to finally decide if can’t afford to just carry on doing the same thing.

led client / client adviser side and by too much product variety, variable capability and often financial fragility on the supply side.

Q: What does 2020 have in store for you and the offsite sector as a whole? What developments and changes should we be looking out for?

Q: What progress has the offsite sector made since the publication of ‘Modernise or Die’ with its many recommendations for change? What can be done by the offsite construction sector to make it more of an attractive prospect to the wider specifier and client base?

There is for this reason a disconnect between the potential and the reality of the offsite sector, especially in residential. As schools, hospitals and other infrastructure assets start to increasingly embrace MMC through the government procurement mandate, the question is whether the highly fragmented and private sector-led residential market can collaborate sufficiently on product and design standardisation, demand flow planning and investment and insurance standards to drive a new industrial strategy at a national scale. There will also be disruption of the disruptors as wholly new technology and manufacturing approaches make obsolete some investments made only a few years old.

MF: I will as always be focused on running my own business Cast whilst juggling my commitments with government and the other bodies I support such as MOBIE, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and Constructing Excellence. I have a few international engagements lined up as well so will be playing out my MMC Champion role on the world stage and I look forward to co-ordinating opportunities to share and learn. I am hopeful that 2020 will mark the beginning of a decade that will see more change in construction than we have ever seen before.

I am afraid we will continue to see financial failures in the offsite world and many start-ups never getting off the ground. It is important we do not see technical failures as this will spook the market. That is why trust in the world of accreditations and funding needs to be hard won. The sector cannot afford for a systemic problem to arise out of a mad rush to move to offsite without technical robustness and assurance being put front and centre.

Images: 01. Mark Farmer 02. The housing crisis and poor quality homes can only be improved by more offsite adoption and better design. Courtesy AHR Architects 03. Digital technology must be embraced to drive the construction industry forward and appeal to younger generations. Courtesy Carbon Dynamic 04. Homes need to be flexible for lifetime occupation for a range of tenures. Courtesy Swan Group 05. Modernise or Die – the report that called for many fundamental changes to the UK construction industry

MF: There has been a lot of activity in the offsite sector since 2016. Some notable heavyweight new entrants to the market bode well for the future, especially those which are design and technology led manufacturing platforms. I am very lucky to be party to some of the innovation and market player developments that are still over the horizon to many and that makes me very hopeful we are going to see some dramatic changes ahead. However, there are still some structural failings that continue to dog the sector and need to be addressed if we are to move to a sustainable and fully-functioning market. The biggest problem continues to be the transactional interface between the manufacturing supply side of the market and the land-led demand side of the equation. That interface continues to be plagued by lack of understanding and inappropriate procurement practices on the land-

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Specialist tax relief advisors Catax hosted the final Offsite Roundtable of 2019, which explored the challenges associated with the offsite industry’s limited exposure to Research & Development (R&D) tax incentives.

As market leaders, Catax offer tax relief advice to start-ups and SMEs operating in the offsite sector. Tax relief is awarded to businesses that invest in a wide range of innovation including the reduction of CO2 emissions, as well as the use of pioneering materials, the development of sophisticated software and ground-breaking manufacturing techniques. As the offsite industry continues to drive advancements in the construction industry, the sector is still not utilising tax relief benefits to maximise product and process development opportunities. Hosted by Head of R&D for Catax, Nigel Holmes and Regional Business Manager, Chris Jones – the roundtable guests included Joanne Booth, Business Manager at Lucideon, Ben Towe, Group Managing Director at


Hadley Group, Professor Mohammed Arif, Head of the School of Architecture at the University of Wolverhampton, Matt Hallissey, Head of Strategy at Top Hat and facilitated by Darren Richards, Managing Director at Cogent Consulting. Under-Claimed Tax Relief Research and development programmes are seen as expensive because of the iterative processes involved. With first time success uncommon, the ongoing trials and testing can be financially straining. Therefore, it is vital that HMRC has a tax relief system in place to alleviate financial burdens. But the number of offsite manufacturers that are accessing the R&D tax relief scheme and support mechanisms is unusually low. Communications and marketing

campaigns around the benefits of R&D tax relief need to be improved so that construction companies know what it is, where it is and how to access it. HMRC conclude that out of 800,000 qualifying companies in the UK, only 52,000 submitted claims in 201617. That leaves around 750,000 companies that did not access the benefits of R&D tax relief across all sectors. Out of the 52,000 companies that applied for tax relief, construction and ancillary services only made up 2,260 of the claims – including SMEs and large companies. This generated £145million in tax savings. The result it seems, is that R&D tax relief is worthwhile yet vastly under-claimed in the offsite industry.


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CATAX ROUNDTABLE costs and offers an extra 130% of relief. This means that a loss-making company will give up a bigger loss for cash, while a profitable company will have a substantially reduced tax bill. Meanwhile, the RDEC scheme creates a taxable form of income that is deducted from a company’s tax bill. This provides approximately 10% extra relief. This should not change postBrexit.

Catax’s Head of R&D, Nigel Holmes, recommended that companies consider R&D as a form of finance instead of tax relief, because it is ultimately designed to improve cash flow for both profitable and lossmaking companies. This way, it is more likely to get offsite manufacturers talking about and claiming for the relief. Even the term ‘tax relief’ misleadingly suggests reduced tax bills – in reality the term refers to transferring real funding into bank accounts. The statistics show that the scheme is only effective for engaged companies who know it exists. But HMRC is not communicating the opportunities that are available. It is up to accountants and specialists – such as Catax – to raise awareness of the system and the benefits that can be gained. However, Nigel Holmes raised concerns that with many accountants not experts in R&D tax relief, they do not have the necessary information to pass on to their clients. Accountants appear to be unwilling to risk their professional indemnity in offering specialist advice that is not within their area of expertise. As Nigel Holmes says: “You don’t go to a GP for brain surgery, you go to a specialist. Just like you wouldn’t use your residential conveyancer for some complex employment law – offsite professionals need to understand that this is a specialist area and that they need to use a specialist.” Cogent Consulting’s Darren Richards noted that although the government


did run a marketing campaign to promote R&D tax incentives a few years ago, there is still little evidence that this had any impact. But there is an incentive for the government to demonstrate the scheme’s effectiveness and entice other territories around the world through R&D that the UK is an attractive nation to invest in. However, HMRC is too government-focused to be the right organisation to take on this marketing. There seems to be a clear need to improve awareness and advice for accountants. Nigel Holmes also suggested the possibility of an R&D checklist or simple template/guide for accountants to identify whether the tax relief is a viable option for offsite manufacturer clients. R&D Tax Relief Legislation Chris Jones, Catax’s Regional Business Manager, explained that R&D tax relief claims fall into one of four categories: • Increasing in the overall knowledge within a specific sector • Creating new products, processes, services, materials or devices • Improving existing products, processes, service materials or devices • Duplicating in a new and innovative way the effectiveness of products, processes, services, materials or devices. It is important to remember that there are slight differences between the SME R&D tax relief scheme and the Research And Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme for larger companies. The SME R&D scheme takes a company’s R&D

The legislative mechanics are solid – the problem is in the branding and positioning. R&D tax relief is intended to be an enabler, but as Darren Richards, Managing Director, of Cogent Consulting explained, all too often, companies don’t consider R&D tax relief until project completion. When R&D is evaluated post-event, it is difficult to track the entire product/ system journey.

Ben Towe, Hadley Group’s Managing Director said: “In the eyes of HMRC, a project needs a start and end date. Everything in between is potentially claimable. There is a huge amount of workflow that can be rewarded. This is why it is vital that we bring R&D tax relief to the front of dialogue – it requires advance planning and should not be an afterthought.” Manufacturers need to assume that all of their work around R&D is claimable, as only a small percentage is not. Ben Towe also raised an issue around the lesser R&D funding opportunities for larger offsite companies that are looking to grow. Perhaps, regardless of company size, the government should support the drive in innovation and construction to benefit all UK PLCs. In the offsite industry, this will improve solutions to the housing crisis and other large-scale issues that we will likely rely on larger players to overcome. Ben concluded that: “If we want to genuinely innovate and disrupt our existing traditional methods of construction, then the government needs to encourage that kind of behaviour at all levels.” Additionally, in order to show behaviours that the offsite industry needs, HMRC needs to adopt a project perspective.


CATAX ROUNDTABLE ATTENDEES Facilitator: Darren Richards – Managing Director, Cogent Consulting Professor Mohammed Arif – Head of the School of Architecture, University of Wolverhampton Joanne Booth – Business Manager, Lucideon Matt Hallissey – Head of Strategy, TopHat Nigel Holmes – Head of R&D, Catax Chris Jones – Regional Business Manager, Catax Ben Towe – Group Managing Director, Hadley Group

It is important to consider the whole supply chain, not just the manufacturer – as such HMRC needs to recognise and respect the project perspective, not just the set of accounts. Embracing Collaboration Lack of standardisation is at the core of many issues as competitors believe in different responses as the best solutions. As Ben Towe said: “It’s all about how we can align commercial interests using the same components to achieve a variety of end results. Innovative manufacturers are all producing different systems, which is why R&D tax relief is so well-placed in the offsite industry.” One example of this is the Seismic Initiative – comprising construction consultants blacc, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Bryden Wood and two of the UK’s leading offsite manufacturers, Elliott and the McAvoy Group. This was instigated by a government initiative that demanded standardisation of classrooms and funded the R&D. This meant that all framework manufacturers produced modules that fit together, using the same technology. Matt Hallissey, Head of Strategy at Top Hat highlighted the importance of BIM at this point saying: “If more suppliers ensure that their suites of products are BIM-compatible to support offsite construction, there will be more incentive to share R&D results in an open-source BIM platform, and technology will be shared more broadly.” The offsite industry tends to act when other innovators have pushed boundaries. This is where R&D

case studies and project profiles can really push change and disruption in the offsite sector, as well as embrace collaboration and resonate with manufacturers. In a similar way, webinars can also increase knowledge share between professionals, perhaps explaining the check sheet for R&D tax relief eligibility.

Head of the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Architecture, Mohammed Arif, highlighted the importance of neutral bodies to promote such content. “While competitors are unlikely to share project profiles, case studies and webinars, neutral organisations such as universities can promote this material and reach wide audiences in doing so. Information could also usefully be shared across construction innovation platforms that generate high levels of traffic, such as the Offsite Hub.” A criticism levelled at many offsite manufacturers – particularly volumetric modular providers – is that they tend to create modules/products that cannot easily fit with competitor modules/ products, which in itself lowers level of productivity, reliability and trust within the offsite sector. In some respects this can be seen as reflective of an immature industry. Other fields – such as the automotive industry – offer massive commonality of components. But things are changing. “Within

the last 12-18 months we have seen this kind of security enter the offsite industry,” says Darren Richards. “Companies are beginning to see that ‘the opportunity is so big and the pie is so massive’ we are getting a sense that we are starting to change our culture of construction and collaboration.” But what would be ideal is a stronger mechanism to encourage collaborative R&D with new methods to share knowledge and innovation between companies. Though there will always be competitive tension – which is what creates innovation – there is a big role for trade associations to play in R&D collaboration. These bodies can bring members together in joint solutions, underlining the real competitor as traditional construction. The Light Steel Frame Association (LSFA) stands as a strong example: if all the light steel frame manufacturers in the UK gravitate towards universal solutions in the steel framing industry, they could establish highly collaborative R&D and universal solutions. There is definitely an emerging sense that it is better to pool resources and share R&D, but this requires more trade body encouragement from groups with voice, authority and strong market penetration. Evolution of Testing Following the legislation and building regulation changes around material specification and combustibility after the Grenfell disaster, many companies have needed to innovatively upgrade or modify their building products. As a result, there is a need to demystify




accreditation bodies. In the offsite industry it is important to validate performance, though this can be challenging. Joanne Booth, Business Manager, Lucideon, reiterated the importance of test houses providing accurate, detailed information and guidance on this. However, there is an issue around test house capacity. Few UK facilities test to the scale required to prove full volumetric modules and unitised facades. Instead, overseas bodies are offering certification. While trying to encourage R&D in the UK offsite industry, the infrastructure to validate and underwrite it is limited. As Joanne Booth highlighted, this is again linked to the challenge of a lack of standardisation. As a result of the various communication issues surrounding R&D tax relief, the system needs to evolve to meet changing industry requirements, especially as there are so many challenges around growing the capacity of companies involved in assessment and certification. A boom in encouraging growth in capacity and throughput in validating accreditation processes is required. Currently, products are often outdated by the time they come to market because accreditation processes are so lengthy. The Future


Over the last 11 years, the construction industry has failed to secure a sector deal under the government’s industrial strategy. 2019 was the first year where the industry has been granted a sector deal, totalling £172million to enable more R&D. Though this is moderate, if a strong outcome from this funding can be proven, a higher deal can potentially be secured in the future. Looking to the future, the Midlands region could form a solid offsite base for knowledge sharing using this funding. As the region extends across the middle of the country, companies based there are in a prime position to supply in all four corners of the UK, alongside the huge skills base in the area. The offsite industry is worth £16billion annually, with a 30-35% year-on-year increase. It is a sector characterised by innovation and disruption but still not fully exploiting the huge financial incentives and opportunities available.

It is clear that the long-term solutions to wider take-up of R&D tax credits and the R&D platforms that exist is to communicate better – certainly HMRC can help in this respect – and look to educate and promote on a wider basis across the construction industry as a whole. Many thanks to Catax for hosting the Roundtable Event and thanks to all participants for their time and contributions to the discussion. For more information on Catax and specialist R&D tax relief advice services visit: For more information on offsite related activity visit: Interested in hosting an Offsite Roundtable event? Find out more at:

ABOUT CATAX Catax are experts in the specialist area of tax relief, including Capital Allowances and Research & Development. With over 10 years’ experience, the company has identified over £264million in tax benefit for clients to date. With a team of over 100 in-house experts which includes Surveyors, Tax Technicians, Accountants, Report Writers and Case Managers – Catax break down the claims process so clients just need to provide some details and they take care of the rest.





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Futurebuild 2020, which takes place from 3-5 March at ExCeL London, will inspire professionals working across the offsite sector to come together to deliver a more sustainable built environment. While discussions on the conference stage will focus on the biggest issues facing the built environment at a macro level, the six Keynote Stages will look at the specific challenges impacting Offsite, Energy, Building, Interiors, Resourceful Materials and Critical Infrastructure. This programme of solution-driven sessions will share the latest thinking and research, to educate, inform and inspire visitors to make a positive change. The six Keynote Stages will address the following challenges:

1 A clear message to come from recent climate change demonstrations and declarations of action from government and leading organisations is that we need to work together. Put simply, without collaboration we will fail. Futurebuild will empower visitors to be the catalyst for change that is needed across industry. Setting the Agenda Futurebuild is recognised for its agenda setting conference and this programme is evolving for 2020. Sessions will follow a three-day progression; the central theme will be on how to respond to the climate and ecological crisis facing us and commit to making a change. The Arena will be home to engaging sessions led by politicians, academics and industry shapers.


There is a wide array of sessions available for professionals both working in, and keen to learn more about, the offsite sector. ‘The future is regenerative’ chaired by Peter Murray, Chair of New London Architecture, will be of particular interest. Taking place on day one (3 March), the session will explore how design and construction needs a circular rethink, putting resiliency planning, placemaking, and net zero first to make our cities fit for purpose. Additionally, on the second day of the conference (4 March) Robin Nicholson, Partner at Cullinan Studio and Convenor of the Edge will chair a session on ‘How do we achieve ‘100% net zero carbon?’, exploring views from leading industry and academia on how we build a net-zero construction economy.

• • • • • •

Offsite: reliability and efficiency combined with creative placemaking Energy: accurate data for carbon accounting and reduced clean energy usage Buildings: retrofitted, re-used, net positive and built to perform Interiors: sustainable and health promoting Resourceful Materials: thinking circular to reduce, reuse and recycle Critical Infrastructure: delivering integrated green, grey, blue and social infrastructure

Each day, the stages will host a focused keynote presentation by a recognised expert in their field. This and other sessions will look at tangible solutions and approaches which will make a real difference to practice and performance. With growth in offsite construction showing no signs of slowing down, offsite returns to Futurebuild in 2020 to deliver the UK’s largest gathering of influencers and decision makers from across the sector. The Offsite Keynote Stage will look at all aspects of the sector and the pressure on the construction industry to deliver reliable



2 and efficient buildings while balancing demand with creative placemaking. On the first day (3 March), Neil Appleton, Construction Lead, National Composites Centre will be chairing a session on ‘Materials for offsite construction’. The session will take a look at the latest innovations in material, manufacturing and product solutions, focusing on how an efficient collaboration between the supply chain can offer improved solutions and deliver better projects. Other sessions which are sure to be of interest to offsite professionals include: ‘The role of the planning system in facilitating modern methods of construction’. The session on the second day (4 March) chaired by Arup’s Katie Kerr, who is an Associate in Town Planning, will explore how the role of planning can be improved to facilitate offsite construction. It will consider how existing planning tools can be better used to speed up the development management process and how digital innovation could be harnessed to facilitate and incentivise offsite construction.

Beyond the Stages Around each Keynote Stage there will be an exhibition of innovative brands, offering unique solutions to the challenges discussed in the companion knowledge programme. It will feature some of the largest headline brands in the sector, alongside SMEs and start-up organisations, creating a dedicated platform to connect these companies with forward-thinking specifiers and buyers.

Across the exhibition, brands and organisations that are leading the charge when it comes to innovation will be recognised through the Innovation Trail. A guided route will take visitors on a journey through the event and enable them to learn more about the latest thinking from Futurebuild’s Innovation Partners, which include Geberit, Steico and Hadley Group.

The Offsite section at Futurebuild 2020 will present solutions as pressure builds on the construction industry to deliver reliable and efficient buildings which balance demand with creative placemaking. This section will be home to the MPBA (Modular and Portable Building Association) pavilion and lounge, the Light Steel Frame Association and the Structural Timber Association Village, as well as demonstrations of new systems and advances from across the world. The exciting section will explore the latest thinking, solutions and technology in offsite. Key exhibitors include British Precast, Offsite Solutions and EOS. The Buildings section at Futurebuild 2020 will cover everything from retrofit to re-use, to making buildings net positive and built to perform. Visitors will be able to explore and discuss the latest building technology, innovations and legislation. Following on from last year’s success, this area has been expanded to include two new showcase areas; the Whole House Retrofit Zone and the Digital Impact Zone. These spaces will enable visitors to deep-dive into refurb and retrofit solutions and experience the latest developments in digital construction.




3 The Game Changers are Back Championing innovation is the central purpose of Futurebuild and the 2020 event will see the return of the Big Innovation Pitch. Hosted across the event, in conjunction with BRE as technical partner, the competition will be the industry’s largest call-out for innovation to date and will identify and celebrate novel new approaches to some of the biggest challenges facing us all. The shortlist includes Plant-e, Puustelli group Oy, Hope Resources, Biotecture Limited, Arc Consulting and Scotscape Group. On the first day of the event, SMEs will present their ground-breaking ideas on the six Keynote Stages. On day two, the winners on each stage will go head-to-head in the Arena with a panel of renowned judges determining the overall winner. The winner’s idea will be incorporated into BRE Academy Training, with the solution also being showcased in the landmark BRE Innovation Park. Previous years have seen innovative


solutions, such as a sustainable alternative to plywood produced from mixed waste plastics and energy and cost saving air-conditioning units, take the top spot.

Martin Hurn, Event Director of Futurebuild added: “The responsibility for tackling the climate emergency lies in all of our hands and we must collaborate in order to find solutions to secure our future. Futurebuild 2020 provides the perfect platform for forwardthinking decision makers across the built environment to come together and play a key part in driving positive change. “We understand that taking time out of work to attend events can be a challenge, which is why we will make sure that visitors can really get involved across a number of levels, from the

world class knowledge programme in the Arena and on the Keynote Stages, to the showcase of the latest innovations across the exhibition. Innovation to us is more than just futuristic ideas, it’s about sharing the latest thinking and ideas, processes and solutions, products and materials. All of these things coming together under one roof at Futurebuild 2020 will inspire people to do things differently and create real change.” For more information about Futurebuild 2020 the home of innovation and to register for your complimentary ticket visit: Images: 01- 03. Brands of all sizes from across the built environment attend Futurebuild to meet and share technical innovations and radical new approaches with over 27,000 industry influencers and shapers who visit the event.



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It is time for more offsite methodology and thinking to be introduced into architectural study, says Nigel Ostime, Delivery Director, Hawkins\Brown Architects, who is part of a new wave of industry specialists introducing educational change in the way we design buildings.

1 Over the last few months, alongside other architect members of Buildoffsite, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Oxford Brookes School of Architecture to help them develop a one-year module in Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and modern methods of construction (MMC) for their post graduate diploma course.


Along with developing an understanding of digital technology, we see this as mission-critical for both the construction industry and the profession. This sentiment is echoed in the title of the influential 2016 report by the government’s MMC champion Mark Farmer: ‘Modernise or Die’. The change in approach to design of the built environment

needs to be introduced at an early stage in architects’ development and integrated into the design process. Closely aligned to this manufacturingled approach is standardisation, which can both improve productivity and free up designers to focus on the areas they can bring greater value like placemaking, beauty and improved



2 functionality. There has been disquiet voiced by some members of the profession regarding the aesthetic challenges modular construction can bring, but this should not be a barrier to good design, providing it is considered at an early stage.

It is critical that architects get involved in the current conversation about offsite rather than protesting a perceived loss of design freedom. This requires a proper understanding of the process of designing for offsite and the opportunities it presents. If the use of MMC is to be sustained it must be introduced at an early stage in architects’ career and as such needs to be addressed during their education. Improving productivity In the two decades up to 2015 productivity in manufacturing nearly doubled, whilst in construction it virtually flatlined (McKinsey report ‘Reinventing Construction’, 2017) and there seems to have been no significant change in the five years since. This lack of productivity and the industry’s insistence on ‘race to the bottom’, cost-led procurement has kept margins low and inhibited the necessary inward investment required to improve.

Implementing a manufacturing ethos into construction could be transformative. Offsite is not suitable for all projects but most can adopt a percentage of the build using it. The term ‘pre-manufactured value’ (PMV) denotes the amount of offsite there is in a project. At the top end of the scale, a Category 1, fully volumetric project might achieve 75-80% PMV. It is however just one of the five categories of MMC the government defined in 2019. Designers need to understand all of them and bring them to bear on their projects to bring the benefits in cost, programme, quality, safety and productivity that can be accrued. There is no right amount of PMV but architects should keep an open mind and look for opportunities to optimise it. Architectural education today Architects’ training typically consists of a three-year degree (RIBA Part 1), followed by a year in practice and a further two years for a post graduate diploma (RIBA Part 2). To achieve professional qualification students then need to undertake a minimum of one further year in practice and pass their professional exams (RIBA Part 3). The five years in university are mainly focussed on design which is taught through a combination of theory and practice. Theory is in the form of lectures and practice through design projects.

Course content has changed to some extent to reflect current concerns such as climate emergency and technology but has remained substantially the same for decades. The focus is largely on design as a pure discipline; developing skills to enable the brief to be examined and a creative design solution generated. Creativity and the exploration of design ideas – the development of individual expression - is allowed to develop without being overly constrained by the realities of cost and design process. The result is that the UK produces some of the most creative architects in the world and a profession that exports successfully in the global market. But UK clients and (particularly) contractors complain that we lack the project management and technical competency required in the delivery stage of the project. And a concern voiced by many practitioners is that students emerge from academia lacking the practical skills required in the workplace. What do architects need to know? One way to address these issues is for architecture courses to teach the fundamentals of offsite design and manufacturing. At one end of the scale this could be a series of lectures on the DfMA approach as set out in the RIBA’s DfMA Plan of Work Overlay published in 2016, followed up with integration into the students’ design projects. This should be aligned with more detailed



OFFSITE EDUCATION construction. We need to make sure our architecture students are capable of meeting the requirements of these new technologies coming on board, so they are future-proofed. The government is asking for MMC to be included in architecture syllabuses. We think the genie is already out of the bottle.” Looking ahead Architects are key to initiating change through their involvement at the start of the design process and their education needs to address the transformation required to make this sustainable in the long term.

3 learning on the MMC categories and how to assess which would be appropriate for a particular site and project brief. This knowledge might include an understanding of market capabilities, enough to undertake a light-touch optioneering assessment at the start of the design process (equivalent to RIBA Stage 2 Concept Design). Such a light-touch approach could be implemented by all schools of architecture with little preparation and cost. It would ideally be accompanied by a closer relationship with industry, specifically with manufacturers, as well as consultants. It does however require a change in mindset for the design process, and this is fundamental. Designers need to integrate the method of construction at the start of the design process, not merely after planning approval. In the real world there are procurement barriers to this approach, but as a design philosophy it is an important starting point. Designers need to understand these procurement barriers – particularly with Design & Build – and be armed with the knowledge of how to persuade clients of the benefits of a DfMA


approach. This subject has been covered in the Housing Forum’s ‘MMC for affordable housing developers’ (2019). Oxford Brookes Proposal Oxford Brookes School of Architecture is a pioneer in this field. The school is developing a one-year module in MMC for the post graduate diploma course. It might also run as a standalone MSc. The school already runs a degree in Design using digital technologies and fabrication techniques. The aim is to create a syllabus that will equip students of architecture with the modular and offsite skills that practices will want in the changing market. Dr Shahab Resalati, Director of the Architectural Engineering Research Group at Oxford Brookes, is leading the initiative, alongside head of school Matt Gaskin. He says they are responding to the inevitable in a bid to future-proof their students: “We see that the change is coming and we need to have this course,” he said. “It will be the first dedicated architecture course in the UK to include modern methods of

It is essential that the construction industry improves productivity and achieves a step-change in procurement processes and approach to design. This will require collaboration between architects, engineers and manufacturers and better understanding of the manufacturing process by architects and their clients. It will also require recognition of the importance of design quality and placemaking by manufacturers. It is 100 years since the inception of the Bauhaus in Germany, which introduced radical teaching methods and significantly influenced architectural education, encompassing product design and modernism. It is time for another step-change which recognises the challenges we face today, to maintain our position as leaders of the design process. This must take on board the disruption of new technology and it needs to be addressed in our education, not just in practice. For more information visit: Images: 01-03. Hawkins\Brown’s build to rent project at East Village, Stratford for Qatari Diar Delancey and Get Living London. The project is being built by Mace using their High Rise Solutions method. The construction programme has been reduced by 18 weeks with 20% less workers onsite compared to a traditional building approach.


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Professor Robert Hairstans from the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures at Edinburgh Napier University, outlines a new strategic partnership to digitally enable a sustainable built environment.

1 From tall timber buildings to micromanufacture the products, systems and approaches necessary for the delivery of a sustainable built environment are available. Appropriate application to the context requires informed decision-making enabled by digital tools. Establishing a Trimble Technology lab at Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) presents a unique opportunity to create the right environment to furnish the sector with the next generation of individuals that have the necessary knowledge and skills to move this sustainable approach to the built environment forward. Construction productivity has stagnated: however, increasing construction output will only serve to exacerbate its current negative environmental impact. The construction and use of buildings in the EU accounts for about half of all extracted materials and energy consumption and about a third of water consumption. The whole-life


performance of built assets therefore needs to be fully considered. Embracing offsite approaches to construction delivery utilising renewable resources combined with digitisation offers a solution. Digital integration of the supply chain from forest floor to built asset is ambitious but can be made a reality with the correct ingredients and endeavour. The establishment of the Trimble Technology Lab at ENU is the culmination of an already 10 year-long research and teaching partnership. The objective is to shape the future delivery of the built environment through digital enablement. The partnership originated on this basis, with ENU embedding research findings into Trimble Tekla Tedds software as a route to impact. Tekla Tedds is the UK industry standard software for engineering design. Embedding research into Tedds, engineers throughout the UK had ready access to it facilitating the uptake of the European structural codes of practice

(which were superseding British Standards at the time) as well as the innovative solutions derived to resolve technical detailing issues associated with pre-manufactured approaches. The outputs of this partnership have been practically demonstrated on numerous projects working with industry partners including showcase examples such as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games athletes’ village in 2014 and more recently the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology student village completed in 2018. The CCG iQ closed panel timber frame system utilised standard details from the research, these panels were then capable of being fully enhanced in the factory environment for on-site efficiency. The Carbon Dynamic factory-fabricated cross laminated timber (CLT) volumetric modules also had technical connection challenges resolved utilising the derived software’s. The result was ambitious cantilevers being achieved in the final array of standardised units.


OFFSITE EDUCATION Prior to installation the maximum cantilever was structurally tested for deflection under service load conditions with a feedback loop for the purposes of validating the analytical models. Integral to this application of research into practice was the involvement of student talent via Edinburgh Napier’s award winning programme for industry engagement, the Built Environment Exchange. With academic supervisory support, industry engagement and access to the latest in software technologies students were able to provide additional value to the delivery process as well as accelerate their careers by ascertaining new knowledge and practical skills. The artwork on the walls of the Trimble Technology lab at Edinburgh Napier University depicts these two projects and therefore represents what is achievable via the triangulation of digital technologies, academic research and industry driven innovation. The partnership is building upon this success and moving on to the next level via access to Trimble’s broad portfolio of building construction solutions support and ready access to Trimble’s industryleading solutions such as the Trimble® XR10 HoloLens with hardhat, Trimble mechanical total stations, a Trimble unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and a handheld scanner. Advanced software solutions include RealWorks® scanning software, Trimble Business Center, Tekla® Structures, Tekla Structural Designer, Tekla Tedds, Trimble Connect and the company’s popular 3D modelling software, SketchUp Pro. The timing of this phase of the partnership converges with industry 4.0 and the necessity to accelerate digitisation of the built environment and the whole life cycle of built assets. This goes beyond Building Information Modelling (BIM) moving towards an ecosystem of digital twins where the digital model is connected to the physical asset allowing on-going information enrichment. This has the potential to unlock the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and correspondingly machine learning, where systems learn from data rather than through explicit programming. Future adoption of such an approach will start to take hold in the construction and off-site timber sectors.


3 Optimal performance utilising standardised systems and processes in order to meet client and context specific requirements necessitates a digitally enriched product family architecture that can be mass customised. The capabilities of the manufacturing process, ability of the supply chain to respond and requirements of the logistical processes require to be considered at the design stage. Automating the formation of these building components as part of a production flow process will further require enhanced utilisation of information and communication technology. ENU is exceptionally well-positioned to pioneer research, teaching and learning in this respect partnering with Trimble and industry with Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) support including access to the Innovation Factory whereby advanced manufacturing techniques can be trialled and tested prior to full production. This presents the opportunity to undertake data-driven manufacturing for product assessment with implementation into pilot project

applications including a feedback to the digital model for optimisation. Capturing this information and presenting it in an interactive and virtual environment has the capability to create an immersive learning experience with meaningful insight to the solutions being derived. The establishment of a Trimble Technology Lab at Edinburgh Napier University creates a focal point with access to the necessary tools and support to enable the digital transformation of the built environment by means of leveraging stakeholder engagement whilst mobilising the next generation of student talent. For more information visit: Images: 01-02. The Trimble Technology lab at ENU represents a triangulation of digital technologies, academic research and industry driven innovation. 03. The Carbon Dynamic factory-fabricated cross laminated timber (CLT) volumetric modules had technical connection challenges resolved utilising specialist software.





With a 42% increase in the last nine months in people seeking to access learning about offsite through the Supply Chain School there is clearly a demand, but as Ian Heptonstall, Director at the School explains – is this enough? adoption in the UK is being backed by HM Government, infrastructure clients and increasingly by housebuilders. This has created the conditions where we are seeing significant investments not just by the leading industry players such as Laing O’Rourke, McAvoy and Elliott, but also from outsiders such as Goldman Sachs, Sekisui and Legal & General. Investment in new manufacturing facilities is indeed important, but in the rush to expand capacity we must not forget that it’s the people and the processes they develop that will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether these investments, indeed the wider adoption of offsite, will be successful or not.

1 These pages contain much about the latest innovation in offsite systems and of inspiring examples of how these systems are building ever taller or large structures. We all get excited by these new solutions, but where we should be focusing our efforts is on the people. Whether you want to build 44 stories of residential in Croydon, a new airport terminal in Dublin, or indeed apply offsite systems to the stations and platforms of Crossrail there are systems suitable to do just this and much more.


These great projects do much to make the business case for offsite, add to this the ever growing list of articles and white papers that have set out the business case and advantages that offsite can bring and we should by now need no further convincing that we need to build better and to do this we need to build differently. Increased Investment in Construction Industrialisation Offsite, or perhaps a better term is Construction Industrialisation, provides an obvious answer to this need and it is indeed encouraging to see its

Skills Gap or Skills Shortage? It is common to hear about the struggle to get the right talent. The skills gap and skills shortage get regular mentions, but what do we mean by these terms? Dealing with the latter first: the threat to our industry of the ageing workforce and our ability to attract new and diverse talent was clearly laid out in ‘Modernise or Die’ by Mark Farmer. The skills shortage is one completely of our own making, our business models are project-led and this means we focus on the short term need for labour rather than investing in the long-term pipeline of talent. The offsite sector is in danger of making the same mistakes. Laing O’Rourke has led the development of the Construction Assembly and Installation Operative Apprenticeship. The Manufacturing Technology Centre are currently developing learning to upskill colleges in the principles of good offsite factories. But both organisations are struggling to persuade colleges to invest in developing their capability to deliver these new qualifications.



2 Rather than bemoan the lack of talent, employers and colleges need to collaborate to form a national network of regional colleges that can inspire the next generation. The other half of the problem is the skills gap. That is our current workforce are not being educated on how adopting an offsite solution will affect there day to day decision making. The Supply Chain School is currently developing new training materials to address this issue. If I am an architect – what do I need to do differently to embed an offsite approach through the RIBA Plan of Work stages? Equally if I am a cost consultant or procurement manager how will the forms of contract change, how do I value work in a factory and how do I assess the ability of the supply chain to deliver? Courses are also in the pipeline for Project Managers, Site Managers and Logistics Managers which will deal with the practicalities of setting up the sites for offsite. Developing Management Skills It is not just these practical skills that are required, research by the Supply Chain School has revealed that we also need to equip managers with an industrialisation mindset. These are the skills to innovate, collaborate, make the business case for, and

3 then lead, change. The construction industrialisation wheel depicts the interaction between these practical and management skills, but Volume 2 of Kier’s ‘The Choice Factory’, makes a great case for the need for behavioural change to drive the adoption of offsite. By looking at the investments being made by our industry we need to ensure that we also upskill our workforce and work with colleges to ensure that the next generation are equipped to meet our needs. Without this investment in our people the offsite revolution may once again stall.

For more information visit:

Images: 01. The industrialisation wheel depicts the interaction between practical construction and management skills 02-03. The Supply Chain School is pioneering a range of online learning tools dedicated to sustainability and offsite thinking





The growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the housing sector is changing the way tenants engage with housing associations. What can it bring to a flourishing rental market? Henry Jinman, Commercial Director of EBI.AI explains more. gets in the way of delivering great customer service. Up until recently, staff were required to talk to residents, liaise with engineers, update multiple systems, call, chase, email and continuously update everyone, which took a lot of work time. Today, staff rely on bots to ask what jobs need to be done that day, and what deliveries they should be expecting.


2 For ‘Generation Rent’ customer service is just as important as affordability. Statistics reveal that many more of us are now renting rather than buying our homes, putting increased pressures on landlords, property managers and housing associations to raise their game. Young people struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder expect value for money with competitive leases and attractive amenities. Students facing the prospect of years of debt demand much more than brilliant academic facilities. Social housing associations with squeezed budgets are focused on delivering both efficiencies and great service to the families in their care. 3C Consultants, a leading provider


of specialist IT consulting services to the social housing sector, tells us that technology is fast becoming an enabler of this new era of customer service. We share that sentiment as we have seen first-hand how the amazing world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the housing sector. Bots, chatbots and virtual assistants are revolutionising the way tenants and landlords interact with each other while satisfying the needs of today’s tech-savvy generation which expects immediate results. When it comes to property maintenance, AI works like a dream for tenants and landlords alike. Not long ago, you had to walk down to the concierge or phone your landlord to report a broken washing machine or boiler. Now, everyone can use AI chatbots to ask tenancy questions 24/7 from the comfort of their home. For property managers and housing associations, AI minimises the maintenance headache that frequently

Managers can even integrate the bot technology they offer tenants with the calendars of in-house maintenance engineers to offer time slots automatically to residents and then ensure the right engineers are available to fix the loose light switch in the communal lounge or the leaky tap in the top-floor apartment. That’s exactly what the chatbot at JLL’s property One Eighty Stratford in East London has done. Today, over 60% of maintenance issues are now reported through the bot (smashing the 25% target) and it takes less than a minute for tenants to report an issue and have an appointment booked in for a repair. The possibilities for AI are endless and start well before a property is even built. Do you need to check the spacing for the steel beams on the 3rd floor? Or, ensure night-shift workers know where their co-workers placed new pipes and wires earlier in the day? Exciting breakthroughs in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) allow onsite construction workers to see through walls using a special helmet. Want to know what the livingroom in a brand-new apartment will look like with blue walls? Innovative visualisation tools allow architects to drop in various furnishings into their design or pull in 2D drawings to build 3D models to provide an immersive design experience that accommodates important feedback early on in the design process.


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3 While people rent homes, they still want the human touch when it comes to customer service. AI presents opportunities to blend the best that technology have to offer. It’s good for building communities. With the ability to bring together, analyse and communicate data across the whole property eco-system including tenants, landlords, maintenance staff, white goods suppliers, utilities providers and gardening services – AI has the power to accelerate and simplify interactions to create connected neighbourhoods where residents, landlords and businesses flourish. It’s a great model for the future. The beauty of AI is the more it’s used the better it

4 gets. Simple steps such as adding feedback functionality to tenant bots yield quick wins, helping to better understand resident needs, enhance rental offerings and deliver a highly personalised customer experience. For more information visit: Images: 01-02. Digitally assisted assembly can improve productivity and monitor progress. Courtesy AMRC 03. Virtual reality brings a new dimension to the design of space. Courtesy McAvoy Group 04. Robots are set to play a huge part on future factory manufacture and site construction. Courtesy Saint Gobain

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND CONSTRUCTION CULTURE Professor Alan Penn delivered the JCT Povey Lecture 2019 at the Local Government Association, last November entitled: ‘Our digital future: space and place in a digital world.’ Considering the digital age, Alan Penn showed how we are now in another era of rapid development, and reflected that digital, rather than being something that is happening to us, is in fact a product of our own invention, which creates a number of opportunities and challenges. Specific to the construction industry, the more we can understand the impact of digital technology on our relationship to place and space, the better we make a real and positive difference to the actual development of our construction. One impact of technologies such as Internet of Things, biometric identity, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, AI, among others, could be to culturally engender more trust throughout the industry by making accountability and responsibility more transparent. “Digital is a human invention, part of us rather than something happening to us. We’re now in another period of rapid development with technology such as sensor nets Internet of Things, robotics, AI, biometric identity. Using digital technologies such biometric identity to gather real data and build trust could transform culture – both in construction and society”. Alan Penn is Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing, The Bartlett, UCL, and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. He has recently founded the Construction Blockchain Consortium, an industry academic collaboration which is investigating the application of distributed ledger technologies in built environment applications. Video highlights of Professor Alan Penn’s Povey Lecture are available at:



Getting your head around the latest digital technology can be a tough ask but AI/AR/VR platforms are making many aspects of the construction industry more efficient, saving money and revolutionising how the construction industry operates and importantly how it is perceived by a new generation of workers. •

AI can prevent cost overruns by comparing project costs and predicting where future cost overruns may occur. Predictive models can show where potential errors may happen so resources can ne planned more efficiently

BIM and 3D modelling need AI for better design of buildings and take into consideration architecture, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) and how they are sequenced

AI can reduce risk and automatically assign priority to project stages for core teams and sub-contractors

Robots and AI could stop late and over budget construction projects. An AI technique called ‘reinforcement learning’ allows algorithms to learn and assess endless combinations and alternatives based on similar projects

Construction companies are using AI to plan for distribution of labour and machinery across projects – construction firms could boost productivity by as much as 50% through real-time analysis of data

Construction is awash with data. AI systems can analyse endless amount of data to learn and improve project and process flow constantly. Big Data generated from mobile devices, drone videos, smart sensors, BIM) create a huge pool of information

Building managers can employ AI in post-construction and occupancy assessments. AI can be used to monitor developing problems and offer potential solutions to prevent problems.

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To help the construction industry interrogate the practical potential of evolving technologies, tools, processes and materials, the Emerging Realities conference and exhibition will answer some of the challenging questions about the breakthroughs revolutionising the construction arena.

Responding to the pressing need to ditch outmoded methods of construction and take a lead from more dynamic industrial sectors, the Emerging Realities Conference, taking place at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Coventry on 7 July 2020 – will bring together those with the insight to evaluate transformative innovations and explore how they can be used in a real-world context to radically advance how buildings are designed, developed and delivered. Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution The latest onsite advances and sophisticated interconnected offsite manufacturing approaches have the capability to improve profitability and efficiency to create a smarter and more diverse industry. Expert speakers will reveal how emerging technologies can be assessed and selected to


improve construction practices and the actions required to embrace the fourth industrial revolution. From ground-breaking onsite advances and offsite manufacturing approaches to the development of new materials and digital engineering, under the banners of Economic, Technological, Environmental and Productivity – expert speakers will reveal how emerging advancements can be assessed and selected to improve construction practices together with outlining the industry evolution required to implement and embrace change. Economic Predicted to bring economic change, Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution where transformative techniques are radically changing the face of

manufacturing and are set to impact massively on building technologies and construction methods. Powered by intelligent innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) – construction methods are being dramatically improved by using the internet as a systems integrator to collect, interrogate and transmit data. Technological Conference speakers will scrutinise the way onsite innovations such as robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, are set to radically change the construction arena. Featuring the latest inventions being used to augment and assist onsite operatives, from smart helmets and electric exoskeletons to robotic brick layers and the latest 3D printing devices that can digitally ‘pour’ concrete buildings, as well as the technical capabilities of drones.



Environmental Sustainability has been one of the main drivers behind innovation in construction. The pressing need to minimise the environmental impact and maximise output can be achieved with the aid of advanced techniques and technologies. From Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and the Internet of Things to new organic ‘super materials’ – expert speakers will add another dimension to emerging sustainable construction approaches. Productivity The Emerging Realities Conference will focus on new technologies and techniques that will augment human resources to establish more dynamic approaches and directly tackle the ongoing construction productivity conundrum. Those who are making radical efficiencies will demonstrate how productivity gains can be delivered through the implementation of new strategies and digital technologies. A Platform to Validate Innovation The Emerging Realities exhibition provides the ideal platform for pioneering construction companies and innovative supply chain partners to share knowledge and demonstrate how the latest discoveries and digital engineering can revolutionise the industry. The exhibition will encompass a variety of smart technologies from virtual and augmented reality to 3D printing and the use of drones to map and survey building works.

Get Involved Choose from our range of Emerging Realities exhibition and sponsorship packages to secure exposure for your latest innovation. Packages can also offer networking, thought leadership, speaker and lead generation opportunities. Choose from a wide range of flexible exhibition packages and sponsorship opportunities to: • Position your brand alongside those shaping the future of construction • Access targeted visitors to engage with new clients and business partners

• Take advantage of the event’s extensive digital marketing campaign • Benefit from the central location with excellent public transport links and within two hours’ drive of 75% of the population • Relax in the knowledge that the dedicated team will guide you through every step of the process starting pre-event, onsite and post-event to maximise your return on investment. For more information visit:


MTC, COVENTRY To book an Emerging Realities exhibition or sponsorship package and align your business with those who are inspiring the evolution of the construction industry, contact: Stuart Maunder - Email: or call: 01743 290050 Secure Your Delegate Place Emerging Realities will reveal how advancements can be assessed and selected to improve construction practices together with outlining the industry evolution required to implement change and embrace the fourth industrial revolution. To network with like-minded industry professionals and gain valuable intelligence from those who are instrumental in driving change – visit: Call for Papers If you believe that you can present leading-edge ideas and would like to share your experience and knowledge with an audience of over 200 interested delegates, then please visit: and submit a Call for Papers.





Growth opportunities in the global modular and prefabricated buildings market look robust over the next six years with technology set to play a significant role, says Prathmesh Limaye, Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan’s Visionary Science Practice.

1 Our recent analysis, ‘Global Modular and Prefabricated Buildings Market Forecast to 2025’ explores the industrial, technology, regulatory, and growth factors and trends that have shaped the global modular and prefabricated buildings market landscape, the challenges that lie ahead, and the opportunities that can be tapped. The research provides a detailed analysis of the growth opportunities for key players in this space. End industries analysed in this research include residential and non-residential construction with contractors, developers, and project owners classified as end users. At the subsegment level, the analysis focuses on the product types and materials these segments use in their products. Competitive structure and market share data have been provided at the top level. A global uptick in construction activities and significant cost, labour, and time savings in offsite construction are key factors driving


market revenues toward $215 billion by 2025. With a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, adopting more environmentally sustainable and regulatory-compliant construction practices will boost prospects and revenues in the more mature markets of Western Europe and North America. We expect the market to expand at a sturdy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3% from 2018-2025. Despite increased construction costs from an offsite construction, a net saving of up to 7% is possible because of shortened construction periods. In addition, prefabricated buildings are increasingly being perceived as sustainable solutions for construction projects due to a growing usage of materials, such as timber and aluminium composites, that are more energy efficient than concrete. From a regional perspective, the recovering economies of Latin America along with high-growth markets of Eastern Europe, India, and Southeast Asia are expected to provide lucrative market opportunities. Slower growth

is anticipated in North America and Europe due to increased construction activities in developing regions. From a competitor position, the market is highly fragmented with several regional and smaller suppliers with wide market coverage due to the relative ease of setting up a business in this space. The industry is, therefore, slated to experience consolidation with multiple merger and acquisition activities occurring in the foreseeable future. Many small and regional participants influence the overall pricing and distribution patterns in regional markets, especially in Latin America, the Middle-East, and Asia-Pacific. Additional growth opportunities participants should aim to secure include: • Manufacturers promoting more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solutions that are compliant with regulations mandated by international organisations. • Gaining wider coverage by improving their portfolios with products that can be customised to end-user specifications and also promote ease of installation. • Expanding operations into high growth regions such as Asia Pacific due to the region’s growing infrastructure and construction development. • Offering products that are comparative with those offered by regional and local manufacturers. Despite significant market expansion prospects, perceptions surrounding the high initial cost of construction and transportation, design rigidity, multiple stakeholder involvement, and lack of skilled labour are key factors slowing adoption rates and hindering market growth.



2 The construction industry is grappling with productivity and meeting project deadlines, and these issues magnified following the economic recession of 2008-2009, which witnessed lay-offs of personnel in the industry. With impending BREXIT in Europe, the industry faces a huge gap in terms of skillsets, and these trends hamper the growth of the construction industry as numerous timelines may get extended, leading to overall project delays. The adoption of modular and prefabricated buildings has also led to adoption of principles hitherto unutilised in the industry such as Design for Manufacture & Assembly (DfMA). The DfMA process is being adopted by offsite manufacturers, which enables them to have a longer design plan compared to traditional construction, but detailed design release in one go helps shorten the construction period. This approach has also led to adoption of Building Information Management (BIM), which typically is a system that generates a 3D design model for a building and also effectively computes the time involved in the construction, the materials used and the costs of the materials. Along with DfMA and BIM, other tools also are being adopted that aim to make the construction projects more effective in terms of cost and time parameters. On the front of adoption of automation tools in construction, the UK is one of the few countries to adopt BIM, with about 62% of big construction firms using BIM for their construction activities. Automation helps in better processing and installing a variety of construction materials, including timber, composites

3 and plastics. Manufacturing and automation in the construction industry are also pushing the industry toward sustainable building practices, which is a primary need of the industry. With the advent of new technologies such as 3D printing, which is rapidly being deployed in the manufacturing sector, one can witness use of 3D printing in building prototypes for homes by the construction industry as well, which will lead to better design understanding among stakeholders as well as better change management while executing the project. In fact, Swiss design firm Fuseproject and construction technology firm Icon have developed a joint venture, New Story, in Latin America to develop housing solutions for the homeless using 3D printing and developed a 350-sq. ft. concept model in May 2019. Thus, we will witness design companies becoming construction companies in the future as well. Recently, AutoDesk, a major design software company, acquired a US-based offsite company, FactoryOS. The prefabricated building market in the UK is nascent and is expected to pick up by 2030. Prefabricated buildings in the past have been

associated with low-quality construction in the post-war period. However, stakeholders are changing the mindset by introducing energyefficient homes made using the latest automation technologies and highquality materials. Going forward, the UK is expected to adopt increasing automation in construction to tackle the issues pertaining to low productivity and lack of skilled labour. While the industry is set to witness increasing adoption of project management tools, innovation is also expected, such as use of drones in monitoring construction on a regular basis. These factors make the UK an exciting market for adoption of automation in construction. For more information visit: Images: 01. The new Roy Hoult Centre at the Caulfield campus of Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia, has used offsite methods to create a learning hub designed to inspire and develop technological and scientific innovation 02. The offsite process provides space for many cost savings 03. FactoryOS are pioneering offsite construction to narrow the housing affordability gap in California. Courtesy FactoryOS





The government and the wider public sector are the biggest clients of the construction industry and have an important role in encouraging and facilitating the uptake of offsite technology.

1 Historically, manufacturing operations have been considered extensions to construction processes instead of an integral and important part. This perception is changing. As offsite has become an increasingly dominant force that utilises high levels of technology, the lines between manufacturing, engineering and construction have become blurred, creating a need for new skills and redefining existing ones. The more the offsite industry digitalises, the more the industry uses technology in end-to-end processes, attracting a new cohort of skilled operatives and technicians. Offsite technology offers benefits that have had a huge positive impact on the construction industry, bringing longstanding traditional practices up to date. The first key shift away from traditional methods is that build processes take place in controlled factory conditions – requiring a change of mind-set and approach.


Advanced Offsite Systems and Digital Technology: DfMA and BIM At the core of offsite manufacture, design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) protocols and building information modelling (BIM) enable optimal configuration of offsite solutions onsite by engaging with multi-discipline and multi-tier suppliers from the beginning of the design development process. DfMA facilitates early design detail and three-dimensional design information, while BIM minimises the risk of errors by eliminating the time-consuming process of translating engineers’ information into cutting lists and assembly drawings. BIM also facilitates the optimising and testing of designs in virtual and pre-production environments. Technology is ever-evolving, and the offsite industry is now exploring integrating BIM and digital design

specifications with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Material Requirement Planning (MRP) using ‘intelligent graphics’. This technology will permit manufacturing simulation and visualisation, clash detection and virtual onsite assembly modelling/ programming, which can be enhanced using augmented and virtual reality digital developments. Digital technology is as relevant to offsite manufacturing processes as it is to offsite design and architecture. The Optimum Technology: Modular Construction Offsite manufacture encompasses a variety of panelised and volumetric modular methods of construction. At the forefront of offsite techniques, modular building has had a remarkable impact on reducing costs while increasing quality and safety measures. Having gained considerable momentum over the past few years, modular construction makes up


MODULAR BUILDING 60-70% of offsite manufacture and reduces build times by an impressive 50-60%. Module selection is influenced by transportation dimensions and shipping distances. A number of other factors are also holistically considered to achieve optimal design efficiency: module connection details and quantities, installation and crane costing rates, specific site logistics, foundation/transfer deck, volumes of required materials and other service core requirements.


The demand for customisation has led the manufacturing industry to develop methods for adaptation during mass production while meeting individual customer needs. These methods identify design parameters that can be integrated into architectural CAD applications using Revit structures. Design parameters include: • Customer view that controls the modular design according to requirements • Engineering view that constrains the module design according to deflection, strength, wind loads, fire, acoustic and building regulations • Production view that identifies product dimensions and transportation constraints according to factory regulations and capacity • Site view for assembly constraints on site according to site layout plans. Benefits of Modular and Volumetric Technology Modular and volumetric practices augment the construction industry with a multitude of benefits that span from greener, healthier environments to maximised sustainability, heavily reduced costs and quick build times. Volumetric technology allows providers to customise any modular building to meet exacting needs and blend in with surroundings. Each individual material can be selected specifically for its performance characteristics, tailoring every inch of a modular build. Eco-friendly materials are often specified, and waste is recycled for future projects wherever possible. Not only this, but components are also available in a range of sizes for expansions whenever necessary.

3 As units are factory manufactured, stringent quality control processes can be undertaken within these well-managed environments. These in-house conditions also prevent weather from inhibiting the manufacturing process, guaranteeing efficiency. On top of this, modular construction enables site work and building processes to be completed simultaneously, reducing labour costs and build times. Transportation rarely poses issues, as pre-constructed, self-contained units can be transported to virtually any location, ideal when new premises

4 need to be constructed within limited timeframes. As modules are designed to withstand long-distance transportation and craning onto foundations, they are structurally stronger than most traditionally constructed building materials.

Images: 01. Module being craned into a retirement home development 02. Brampton Academy - Courtesy of Wernick Group 03. Candover Clinic - Private Healthcare in Basingstoke. 04. Courtesy of Premier Modular

ABOUT MPBA As the single recognised voice for promoting and marketing members’ products and services, the MPBA plays a key role in the connecting of sectors in the modular and portable building industry. The association collaborates with specialist technical advisors to enhance innovation in the design and manufacture of modular buildings. These can be designed and manufactured from timber, steel or concrete, in any size and shape to meet individual client needs while ensuring full compliance with building regulations. With the MPBA’s assistance, offsite construction companies remain ever competitive in the modular and portable building multi-billion-pound industry. The association is represented on committees for BSI, LPCB-Expert Group D and works with BRE, LABC, CLG, NHS, Cskills-CITB, NHS, LHC, CCS and Carbon Trust to represent the industry.

For more information visit:





Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems, take a look back on 2019 and show how modular construction is reaching new heights.

1 2019 was a monumental year for our industry, seeing several decisive steps taken by government, industry and finance to get British modular construction to reach new heights. As the year drew to a close, we saw the Housing Minister Esther McVey announce Mark Farmer as their MMC housebuilding champion, to help guide the development and direction of this growing sector. At Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems, 2019 was yet another busy year for our teams which saw us deliver 1,500 new homes, reach in excess of 6,000 student beds, complete the installation of modules for a new Premier Inn hotel, and move

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2 residents into one of the UK’s biggest Build-to-Rent schemes – Greenford Quay in Ealing. The crowning moment for our business, and perhaps the wider modular industry, was installing the final module at 101 George Street in Croydon, making the 44-storey and 38-storey development the world’s tallest modular building. This project is testimony to what modular construction can achieve within the UK, showcasing the very best of our engineering, manufacturing and design, and proudly stating to the rest of the world that the UK is a global leader in modular construction.




Having delivered three of the world’s tallest modular developments, which alongside 101 George Street includes our 90m high Apex House development in Wembley and our 89m high Mapleton Crescent project in Wandsworth, we’ve been championing this view at Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems for some time. The benefits of manufacturing offsite are now widely recognised. The majority of the build stage of Tide Construction and Vision Modular System’s projects are completed in a factory environment ensuring a much higher standard of quality, a much faster pace of delivery and certainty of programme. We ensure that all





VOLUMETRIC MODULAR schemes that run off our production lines are fundable, mortgageable and insurable by securing accreditation from the leading certification bodies. And our efficient construction logistics ensure significantly less disruption to the local communities and environments we operate in, which has been welcomed by our partners and local authorities. Furthermore, the benefits of modular construction and indeed our own system does not stop there. As the re-elected Conservative government gears up to tackle the UK’s housing crisis, pledging to deliver one million new homes within the next five years, ensuring newly-built homes are both energy efficient and sustainable will be crucial in reducing the built environment’s carbon footprint. Our modular system enables us to cut waste by 80% and recycle 97% of the waste produced. The fittedout finish of the modules results in 80% less traffic movements to site, and latest research shows a carbon emissions savings in our buildings of approximately 50% when compared to traditional construction. However, whilst offsite manufacturing has taken off in recent years, the success and energy of this welcomed momentum will rely on two things: planning reform and attracting a new pool of talent into the construction industry. What we need is more certainty from the planning system itself. 101 George Street and our close collaboration with the London Borough of Croydon demonstrates the huge efficiencies that can be derived from a forward-thinking local authority. Thanks to this dynamic we can deliver the world’s tallest modular building in record time; both from a planning and construction point of view. Secondly, but equally as important for the success of modular, is a joint effort from the government and industry to attract a new pool talent to the construction industry. More must be done to promote and emphasise the




3 fact that offsite manufacturing offers workers a far more settled work life. In our factories our Vision Modular teams go to work at the same place each day in a much cleaner, safer, temperaturecontrolled environment. The time for modular construction is now and offsite manufacturing has become mainstream in our view. Although 2019 was a milestone year for the industry, we must not rest on our laurels. We must continue to advance and innovate to ensure that the new decade is one in which our entire industry can continue to be proud of.




For more information visit: Images: 01. 101 George Street – Build to Rent 02. Bollo Lane – Residential (Private for Sale) 03. Holloway Road – Student Below. A sample of Tide Construction and Vision Modular schemes illustrating the storeys noted below





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2 Comprising 8.5km of Sigmat panels, 191 hot rolled steel members and 533m3 of concrete the project was completed two weeks ahead of programme.

1 Located just an eight-minute walk from both Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield University, the new Bailey Street development boasts a high-end 220-bedroom student accommodation block. A hub for student activity, the eightstorey Bailey Street development boasts seven different room types incorporating facilities including: ensuite bathrooms, gym, bike storage, laundry room and games room. Sigmat were appointed by Yorkshirebased developer and contractor Torsion to deliver the light gauge steel frame for the new student accommodation building. Managing the design, manufacture, assembly and installation, Sigmat delivered a complete source-to-site solution, preassembling the panels at their in-house Leeds manufacturing facility.


Sigmat’s Operations Manager John Ritchie commented: “This is a great example of how offsite processes can really benefit construction on a busy city centre site facing various logistical restrictions. The speed of erection and programme surely demonstrates why light gauge steel is the fast-emerging solution of choice – not just for student accommodation, but also hotel, residential apartment, retirement living/ care sectors too.” The £1.1million project also included the installation of steel staircases each comprising 12 flights and six half landings. In addition, Sigmat supported the installation of 315 bathroom pods and 367 plasterboard packs, aiding follow-on trades to commence their work early on in the project schedule. Other notable statistics from the project include the installation of 4,600m2 of decking, 32t of reinforcement and the roof structure which incorporated 598m2 and 2.7t of cold rolled steel. Early planning with Torsion enabled other trades to commence work sooner, facilitating early completion and increasing profitability for the client. Planning for and achieving these goals demonstrates the versatility of the Sigmat light gauge steel frame

system, and the important role offsite construction has to play. Dan Spencer, CEO of Torsion Group, commented on the success of the project, saying: “Engaging with Sigmat early on in the design process allowed us to take full advantage of the offsite manufacturing process, giving certainty in delivery of the frame and allowing us to accurately procure follow-on trades. Sigmat managed their works extremely diligently and handed sections of their works over early. By working in partnership, we were able to take advantage of this as we could plan for the follow-on trades to commence works earlier and take advantage of the great work carried out by Sigmat.” Bailey Street offers high-end, safe and homely accommodation for both local, national and international students, opening in September 2019 ready for the new intake of students. This was the first Sigmat project with Torsion and the success has strengthened the relationship, with more schemes planned for 2020 and beyond. For further information visit:

Images: 01-02. The project is a great example of how offsite construction in a tight, space restricted city centre location brings huge benefits


As the united voice representing the sector, the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) offers valuable industry insight, guidance and ongoing research to significantly improve the volumetric modular building process.

BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP Raising Industry Profile Through Strategic Marketing Quality Training and Knowledge Transfer Access to Learning Hub FREE Health & Safety Guidance and Support FREE Technical Advice FREE Employment and Law Services FREE Industry and Legislative Updates

For more information: Call: 0870 241 7687 Email: Visit:



The popularity of light steel framing continues to grow as does the uptake of offsite construction more generally. Andrew Way, Associate Director at SCI, provides an update on recent material developments. that appropriate procedures are followed with due consideration for all possible performance criteria. It is not possible to disclose in detail the technical developments of individual manufacturers; however, the process invariably involves a combination of physical testing, computer modelling and analysis.

1 Key benefits of light steel framing are quality, speed and cost which makes it ideal for many sectors of construction and especially growth markets such as build-to-rent. The Steel Construction Institute (SCI) has been has been a trusted, independent source of information and engineering expertise globally for over 30 years, and remains the leading, independent provider of technical expertise and disseminator of best practice to the steel construction sector. SCI support everyone involved in steel construction – from manufacturers, consulting engineers, architects, and manufacturers right through to industry groups and peers. Consulting and design engineers look to SCI for reliable and robust technical information and training on the effective use of steel in design, including the latest design standards and building regulations. Manufacturers utilise SCI’s engineering expertise for product development and certification of performance, particularly when bring new products and systems to market. Technical Developments SCI, in conjunction with industry partners, has been instrumental in bringing about many technical 62

developments to the light steel construction sector. Recently, the combined performance of light steel framing and other materials has been of interest. Materials commonly used in combination can lead to enhanced design efficiency. A number of projects would fall into the category of the development of improved design guidance to enable the use of light steel framing in a wider range of applications. Some of the technical development work carried out by SCI is generic and is undertaken through the Light Steel Forum for the benefit of the whole industry. A recent example is SCI publication P426 which provides guidance on using continuous masonry cladding with light steel framing. SCI will be disseminating the outputs from various ongoing industry projects when they have been agreed and finalised. SCI has seen an increasing demand from clients for proprietary technical product development which is understandable in a highly competitive commercial market. The involvement of an independent body, such as SCI, in this type of development is seen as highly advantageous by manufacturers and their customers. SCI’s participation provides reassurance

Light Steel Forum The SCI’s Light Steel Forum is a membership group whose primary objective is the technical development of light steel construction systems. Membership consists of the following proactive companies involved with light steel framing: Ayrshire Metals, BW Industries, Etex Building Performance, Fusion Building Systems, Hadley Steel Framing, Kingspan Steel Building Solutions, Metek plc, Saint-Gobain, Sigmat, Vision-Built Manufacturing and Voestalpine Metsec plc. Technical priorities and areas of work are agreed by the members. Projects vary in duration according to their scope and technical complexity. Results of projects are usually disseminated through SCI design guides, technical information sheets and/or seminars and presentations. To date the group has published over 20 technical information sheets which are available on the Light Steel Forum website. Quarterly meetings ensure the group are kept up-to-date with developments and are able to respond to any new challenges which arise. Certification and Assessment Certification has always been a vital part of the construction industry with customers and specifiers needing to have confidence in the products being offered. The complexity and unique nature of many offsite construction systems, and the growing regulatory demands, mean that independent


STEEL ongoing process and drafting of the next versions of many parts of the Eurocodes is well progressed, which includes EN 1993-1-3. However, formal acceptance and publication can be a lengthy process. Nevertheless, designers and manufactures should be aware that new versions, many with significant changes, are expected to be published in 2023. SCI has been involved at committee level with revisions to several different parts of the Eurocodes and will endeavour to keep members up-to-date with expected changes.



certification is increasingly important. SCI has provided Stage 1 System Certification for light steel framing in accordance with NHBC Chapter 6.10 for the last 15 years (and continues to do so). SCI also provides SCI Assessed certificates for a mixed and varied range of steel-based construction products. However, SCI are now offering a more comprehensive scheme called ‘SCI Product Certification’ which can cover all the basic work requirements of the Construction Products Regulation. SCI

are hoping to be able to announce the first companies and their products to successfully achieve SCI Product Certification within the next few months.

For more information visit:

Design Standards The primary design standard for light steel framing is Eurocode 3 – Design of Steel Structures, Part 1.3 - Supplementary rules for coldformed members and sheeting (also known as EN 1993-1-3). The evolution of the Structural Eurocodes is an

Images: 01. Compression testing of light steel wall panel in combination with board linings and end restraints 02. Six storeys of uninterrupted masonry cladding at Causewayend in Aberdeen. Courtesy Robertson Group and Fusion Building Systems 03. Finite element analysis of a sub-section of a multi-storey light steel frame structure

SCI Support for the Light Steel industry With over 30 years of expertise in the steel industry SCI are able to support the light steel industry in a number of ways. Assessment and Certification Enhance your market share with added assurance for specifiers that products and processes meet current standards and regulations. Light Steel Forum An SCI membership group whose objective is the technical development of light steel construction systems.

T: +44 (0)1344 636525 |

Industry Design Standards SCI supports the industry with many technical resources and are involved at Eurocode committee level to improve standards.



A landmark timber project and multi-award winner at the 2019 Offsite and Structural Timber Awards, the new Cambridge Mosque combines Islamic principles with European sensibilities to form an iconic engineered timber structure employing offsite principles.

1 The newly constructed Cambridge Mosque’s main features are its goldclad dome and the vast timber structure, which was designed and manufactured by Blumer-Lehmann AG in Gossau, Switzerland. The mosque also incorporates many sustainable features with zero on-site carbon emissions, all public areas are naturally lit and ventilated during daylight hours, the building fabric has ultralow U-vales and airtight construction to minimise energy need, rainwater harvesting feeds the WCs and garden, rooftop PVs and air source heat pumps supply a portion of the power and heating. The structure itself is a masterpiece of timber construction engineering. The use of timber complements the mosque’s sustainable construction concept. In addition, the use of a


natural material lends the building’s interior spaces a special atmosphere and vibrancy. The use of doublecurved laminated timber for a building of this kind is unique. The definition of the building geometry came from the 3D development of an Islamic pattern that fused English fan vaulting with sacred Islamic principles. The main structure consists of 30 ‘free form’ timber columns. In addition to those, the ceilings, the external and internal walls and three of the huge building’s staircases are constructed entirely from wood. The roof consists of a ribbed construction, while the internal and external walls are made from a timber frame structure. Cross laminated timber (CLT) is used for the external walls, part of the roof and ceilings. Every individual element of the timber structure was produced at

2 Blumer-Lehmann AG in Switzerland, using state-of-the-art CNC-machinery and CAD-technology. The architects created a detailed 3D parametric model. Blumer Lehmann then commissioned the digitalisation experts from Design-to-Production (D2P) to develop the CAD model of the timber construction. They then worked closely with D2P and the engineers from SJB Kempter Fitze to create the complete digitalised prefabrication and assembly concept. Through this process, the total of 2,746 segments were reduced to just 145 different component types, which in turn are based on just 23 different types of laminated timber blanks. These blanks, some of which are straight and some with single- and double-curved source elements, were all processed with 5-axis milling.


TIMBER This diversity of elements required absolutely precise co-ordination of production, assembly and logistics. The construction process is dependent on very precise planning. The timber elements had to travel almost 1,500 km (over 900 miles) on their seven-day journey from Gossau in the Eastern part of Switzerland to Cambridge. When the team from Blumer-Lehmann completed its construction work in late 2018, a total of 80 truckloads with almost 3,800 individual structural elements had made the trip by road and sea via Rotterdam and Hull.


The project consists of 3000 free form components, 2000m2 outer walls, 1200m2 inner walls, 4000m2 roof surface, 2000m2 plywood boards, 63 skylights and three timber stairs, all made of European timber. The mosque thus comprises approximately 1,239m3 of wood, equating to a saving of 1,136 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The offsite factory-produced components were key to the fact that the structural timber was complete, on time and on budget. This also ensured that every element was engineered in the factory to extremely tight tolerances of the highest quality.


One of the biggest challenges was brought on by significant restrictions in available space on the construction site. There was no possibility to store any of the components as the site is in central Cambridge. Getting the logistics and the workflow right was the key to the team’s successful installation of all the timber elements. In some cases, up to ten production facilities were active simultaneously for the production of the components. Another significant advantage of prefabrication is the reduced time spent on the construction site, which directly reduces the overall risk on site. All timber components were prefabricated in Switzerland and arrived at the construction site in the UK like a giant puzzle. In an auxiliary pre-assembly tent, the free form components were mounted together to form the trunk and tree crown elements of the main support structure. The subsequent assembly of one crown per four trunks was then carried out on site with the

help of cranes and other machinery. Tolerances of less than one millimetre were achieved, which is truly unique and a real testament to the perfect teamwork across teams and countries, from start to finish. The assembly of the prefabricated dome onto the delicate free form structure is also unique in its kind. The quality of this wooden construction surpasses that of any building in form and precision. By prefabricating the free form parts and assembling them with the help of a template in a pre-assembly tent, we found a way to work safely, quickly and with a high level of comfort for the team. The connections could be screwed at perfect working height in a weather protected environment. In addition, a fire protection concept was drawn up and implemented in order to reduce the fire risk, both in the tent and on the construction site during installation. The free form structure was like a puzzle, making quality control relatively straight-forward. If the pieces

fit, the whole building will fit. We had tolerances in the lap-joint of less than one millimetre and the visual CLT boards in the hall had to fit on a length of 32m without an airgap. The key to perfection were our 3D production drawings. The scale and significance of this civic building is already resonating beyond Cambridge and the UK and the combination of offsite construction and contemporary design with vernacular materials and Islamic geometry is unique. This, together with its sensitive massing design, enables the building to fit in and stand out at the same time. For more information visit: Images: 01-04. Cambridge Mosque is a perfect blend of timber engineering, offsite manufacture and inspirational design





According to former US President Bill Clinton, ‘the price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the cost of change.’ Andrew Orriss, STA Assure Director for the Structural Timber Association (STA), discusses the organisations transformational journey and why adapting to change is crucial for those in the construction sector.

1 Competency and compliance are not often considered the most scintillating of subjects and at a time when the construction industry is going through a period of unprecedented change, some are shaking their heads in disbelief at what is coming down the track. But can improvements be made without adapting to change? In my opinion absolutely not, it is the only thing that has brought progress.

The pace of technological advancements will not let up, so it needs to be supported. Whilst other industries have made great strides to update and modernise, the construction industry has been a bit slower out of the ‘starting blocks’ but now change is happening at pace and it cannot be ignored.


Over the last four years the STA has been going through a period of intense transformation. A few might say this was a risky strategy, as we made some bold decisions which could have polarised some of our members. However, our sector by its very nature is innovative and when at our Annual Conference we outlined our plans surrounding quality, competency and compliance, although some raised concerns – the majority understood the benefits and quickly got on board. Since 2018 all structural timber building system supplier members must annually go through our independently assessed STA Assure Quality Management Scheme. Audits are sometimes met with trepidation but we’re not there to catch people out. The process is supportive and informative. Once members gain an understanding of the procedures and

ultimately the benefits, we receive plaudits on how the assessments are conducted and how this has enhanced business processes and streamlined building control and warranty submissions. But it is equally important for the standards that are achieved in controlled factory conditions, to be carried through to the construction site. This is why we have embedded our Site Safe Policy and Installer Competency Scheme within our STA Assure programme. This makes certain that compliance and quality is an end to end process. Our award-winning Site Safe Policy further ensures that the build process complies with strict Health & Safety Standards and CDM regulations. We believe that no matter what building systems and materials are used, the quality and safety processes which are mandatory for


TIMBER all STA manufacturing and installer members, should be adopted by all contractors. We are proud that our Site Safe Policy has now been mandated by the HSE and NFCC and is seen as an example for other material groups to follow. Although we’ve had some challenging times, there is now real positivity around our sector. We fully endorse the findings of Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report, ‘Building a Safer Future’. Competency and compliance are crucial in achieving excellent standards across all construction projects. Staying ahead of the curve with the sustainable building regulations updates to Part L has played to the strengths of the timber sector and has been an important part of our strategy. Timber systems are now acknowledged as the optimum construction solution in the battle to reduce carbon emissions.


Trees are at the heart of the climate change debate – from the destruction of the Amazon rainforests to the use of timber as a replenishable and sustainable construction solution. Once carbon sequestration was a natural phenomenon only understood by scientists but now that’s all changed and terms such as ‘carbon sink’ are commonly used. There are two ways to decrease CO2 in the atmosphere – either by reducing emissions, or by removing CO2 and storing it. Wood has the unique ability to do both. Something as simple as planting a tree can sequester carbon – hence this formed a major part of the pledges during the recent election. Trees extract CO2 from the atmosphere and hold it captive during its entire lifetime, even when it is reprocessed to form buildings. Commercially managed woodland locks down one third more CO2 than wild forests – so the growing of commercial timber and use in construction is vital in the battle to combat climate change. We have gone through this transformational process and as we come out the other side, we are prepared, and our members are well placed to meet the predicted revisions to building regulations.

3 We are now building on the UK’s outstanding heritage – timber architecture is having its moment: however, it is going to be far greater than that. It is a trend that has major potential for the future of building design and development. Continuous technical developments and the need for sustainable management of our resources are further reasons why timber systems are proving to be the material of choice for the decade. We have been on quite a journey but are not complacently sitting on our success, the STA has a strong continuous improvement culture and ongoing developments are planned for our STA Assure programme.

Embracing and adapting to change has been a positive step for our Association and our members. As a result, we have gone through a period of substantial growth in our membership and we now represent 75% of the structural timber industry and associated supply chain. For more information visit: Images: 01. Three Rivers Academy Courtesy of Innovare Systems 02-03. Timber systems are now acknowledged as the optimum construction solution in the battle to reduce carbon emissions





Andy Goodwin, Managing Director for B&K Structures, shares some thought-provoking ideas on wider sustainability issues including having the right talent to secure the future of the engineered timber industry.

1 Discussions surrounding sustainability generally focus on the reduction of carbon emissions, the responsible sourcing of materials alongside recycling and elimination of waste. But with construction experiencing consistent levels of growth, one of the major issues facing the industry today is an ageing workforce and the looming impact of Brexit. The offsite industry has been hailed as a solution but to remain at the forefront of innovation in structural timber technology, we need to attract the brightest and best to sustain our national heritage in timber construction. Great timber engineers are well regarded and highly valued but in the main, applications for these posts come from overseas. Clearly outside the UK timber engineering is a profession of choice – so why does this role not broadly appeal to homegrown talent, particularly as this is an area


where the UK leads the world? Is it simply, that this career option is not widely promoted by colleges and universities? Or could it be that education providers are struggling to recruit offsite industry experts to teach the next generation of structural engineers. I suspect it is a bit of both. So, there’s the dilemma – what’s the solution? We in the industry need to take responsibility, after all it is in our own interest – greater collaboration is needed with education providers to explore ways to engage directly with students. B&K Structures has formed partnerships with Nottingham Trent University and Derby College. Our Pre-Construction Manager, Jules Peyré recently took part in a guest lecture at Nottingham Trent University, it was a beneficial experience for all, and the feedback was rewarding with Jason Bierton, Senior Lecturer

in Architectural Technology and Chartered Architectural Technologist saying: “We are extremely grateful to industry partners who are prepared to share their time, knowledge and expertise in assisting our students with their professional development and employability skills. Our architectural technology students appreciated the optimised offsite construction guidance and case studies presented by Jules Peyré from B&K Structures. This will help inform our students' final-year project and ultimately assist Nottingham Trent University in continuing to provide significant learning opportunities.” It is not just guest lectures that we are involved in, we are very proud to report that 25% of the B&K Structures’ team are currently taking part in or have completed apprenticeship schemes and part time degree programmes. Our Degree Apprenticeships are delivered in


TIMBER collaboration with Derby College and Nottingham Trent University in Quantity Surveying together with Level 3 Apprenticeships in Digital Engineering, Construction and the Built Environment. But personally, I think the time is right for a more radical approach. We are familiar with 106 Agreements, for those who are not – these are often referred to as ‘developer contributions’ – putting back something into the community where the project is being delivered. So why could guest lectures and contractor-led training programmes not form part of 106 Agreements for education builds?


This could be part of a company’s recruitment strategy and offer support for construction-led courses from industry professionals who wish to inspire the next generation of engineers and architects together with helping to develop the specialist skills that the offsite industry requires. By sharing our expertise, we will get the best opportunity to engage directly with students to promote the diverse

Fire Stopping in External Cavities

range of career options available within the structural timber sector.

the very broad and rewarding career opportunities in construction.

Maybe the perceptions held by students are predicated on outdated construction practices and conditions. We have some fantastic examples of how we are creating the built environment of tomorrow, new techniques such as drone surveys and the use of virtual reality. It is down to those involved in the industry to show

For more information visit:

Fire Stopping for Air Valves

Fire Stopping for Pipes

Fire Stopping for Wall / Floor / Ceiling Joints

Fire Stopping for Ventilation Ductwork

Images: 01. Pre-Construction Manager for B&K Structures, Jules Peyré with Jason Bierton, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Technology for Nottingham Trent University. 02. B&K’s Degree Apprenticeships are delivered in collaboration with Derby College and Nottingham Trent University

Fire Stopping for Electrical Services

Fire Stopping for Ceiling Fans

Contact TENMAT for further information

+44 (0)161 872 2181



When Performance Technology Group was formed at the beginning of 2018, it was envisioned as a means of bringing together a varied and industry-leading product portfolio, interdisciplinary expertise and nationwide fabrication and distribution capabilities into a single-point-of-access, customer-focused offering.



The emphasis was on offering economies of scale and reducing complexity for the customer. Why spread personnel across multiple meetings and multiple locations to discuss the fire, thermal and acoustic requirements of a project when PTG can address all those requirements over the course of a single engagement, with all the right people brought to the table?

but more impressive was the sheer breadth of technology and machinery available.

Whilst offsite construction was very much on the PTG radar, it was only in the sense that the entire construction industry was on the PTG radar: commercial, residential, industrial, health, education hospitality, retail; from site protection, right at the outset of a project, through foundation work, from building envelope development to final fit-out. Nationwide Fabrication Facilities As PTG began to catalogue its business assets, it soon became apparent it possessed phenomenal fabrication facilities penetrating all areas of the UK, from Scotland, down through the North of England, through the Midlands to London, the South East and the South West. All of these facilities were positioned in prime locations to serve their regions,


This is just a selection of what PTG have to offer: band saws, beams saws, CNC machines, cold-wire saws, guillotines, horizontal saws, hot-wire cutters, lamella cutters, multisaws, panel saws, pillar drills, profilers, routers, slitting machines, slotting machines and spindle moulders. This comprehensive suite of equipment enables PTG to cut materials to any size and thickness, provide intricate edge and joint detailing, face grooving, pre-drilled holes, duct cutouts and a wide range of bonding and laminating solutions. And it’s all operated and lovingly maintained by a crew of skilled and experienced personnel and augmented by a raft of hand-finishing tools and techniques. Materials and Supply The fabrication facilities are set up to work with almost any material the modular construction industry can throw at it, from cement particle board to stone wool, from high-performance cladding panels to glass-fibre board, to produce bespoke flooring, ceiling and internal and external wall solutions.

3 PTG have supplied to some of the largest, logistically demanding construction projects in the UK, priding themselves on their reputation for uninterrupted supply, via strategically designated regional and local hubs and depots, and by creating and maintaining effective long-term relationships with a carefully selected group of manufacturers and suppliers. Plug and Play Mark Fyfe, Group Sales and Business Development Director for Performance Technology Group, said, “PTG can ‘plug-in’ to any modular contractor’s manufacturing and fabricating processes, effectively becoming a seamless part of their production line. Not only can we supply madeto-measure materials, we can supply a sequenced kit of parts or preassembled system components, potentially allowing a modular builder to rationalise their own asset base and reduce capital expenditure.” For more information visit: Images: 01-03. The fabrication facilities are set up to work with almost any material the modular construction industry requires




Elite Precast Concrete has teamed up with flatbed haulage specialists Shropshire Express Deliveries to ensure its nationwide delivery operation runs like clockwork. lean business model enables it to drive down costs and pass savings directly on to customers.

1 The exclusive relationship will create a transport solution tailor-made for the precast concrete industry and underline Elite’s ethos of providing the highest levels of customer service. Owen Batham, Sales and Marketing Director of Elite Precast, said: “Our logistics operation is very important to us, so it was vital to find the right partners. We wanted to build a longterm relationship with a company we can fully rely on and, in Shropshire Express Deliveries, I’m confident we’ve found just that. They’ll provide a really cost-effective service carried out by experienced drivers in the highest standard of delivery vehicles. But they

2 also place great value on top-quality customer care and that’s something we’re absolutely passionate about.” Elite also works in partnership with logistics specialists Hallett Silbermann, based in Hertfordshire. The relationship enables the company to provide deliveries that are FORS Gold, Silver and Bronze compliant and that are approved for HS2, Crossrail, CLOCS and Tideway projects in London and the South East. The business, which operates from two factories in Telford, focuses on providing the best possible value within the precast industry. A uniquely

LOOKING TO LEGATO Elite Precast Concrete was contacted by Glyn Ellis, Field Team Leader, South Ferriby Depot of the Environment Agency (EA) with an urgent request for a large number of Legato blocks. The EA needed over 500 blocks to be supplied within a matter of days which would be used to protect the properties in North Lincolnshire from flooding. As Elite keep over 800 blocks in stock and are experienced in delivering large amounts of blocks over short periods of time, they were the ideal choice. The whole off-loading process is made safe and simple by the fact that each block has its own cast in lifting pin anchor – so for off-loading all that’s required is a suitable machine with a chain and hook. As Elite’s blocks are so durable – they will be ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice for any other EA requirements in North Lincolnshire and Elite are on permanent standby for any other requirements anywhere else in the UK.


The company manufactures a vast range of semi-dry and wet-cast products for every sector of UK industry and a portfolio that includes interlocking blocks, ballast blocks, safety/security barriers, service protection and drainage products. The deal will also have significant implications for Shropshire Express Deliveries, according to Owner/ Director Neil Bennett. The company, also based in Telford, has taken on a string of new drivers as well as office staff as a direct result of the new partnership. The company, also based in Telford, has taken on a string of new drivers as well as office staff as a direct result of the new partnership. It has brought in five new 44-tonne tractor units, together with trailers featuring side protection, to supplement its fleet of fully Euro 6 compliant vehicles. And it has installed a state-of-the-art booking and tracking system that enables the company to pick up Elite orders automatically. Neil Bennett added: “It’s the biggest contract we’ve won since we launched the business six years ago and it’s a real vindication of how we operate. We’re very much focused on quality of service and that was crucial to Elite, which insists on putting customers first.” For more information visit:

Images: 01. Owen Batham, Sales and Marketing Director of Elite Precast 02. The Legato blocks each has its own cast in lifting pin anchor


Offsite Concrete Solutions Concrete systems and elements are a proven construction method that can contribute to the pre-manufactured value (PMV) of any building and infrastructure project. Concrete is the Modern Method of Construction (MMC) with a UK supply chain, proven structural performance and versatile aesthetic. Choosing offsite concrete solutions provides the inherent performance benefits of concrete: it does not burn; it provides energy-saving thermal mass and resilience to climate change risks such as overheating and flooding; it is 100% recyclable at end of life.

The Concrete Centre has published a new guide on the benefits and solutions of offsite concrete construction. Download at publications @concretecentre Arena Central, Aston Place Development, Birmingham is 22 storeys high and houses 324 apartments. Image courtesy of Creagh Concrete Products Limited.



FP McCann have recently undertaken a series of real-life fire tests to accurately assess the performance of its products and illustrate what they are doing to make buildings safer. Marketing Manager Kieran Fields, explains more about preventing further fires. involved in the construction decision making process need to know just how well these materials performed so when they decide to use precast, they know that it not only passed the test set out be the standard, but they know this was the best performing material with the best fire resilience.


2 Fires are becoming a regular occurrence in both hotels and student accommodation and its time the policy writers took an interest in the construction method of each material used rather than simply taking the easy option and issuing a blanket ban on combustibles. Why are we conducting these tests? There is a variety of reasons why we wanted to do this research. Certainly having the research and evidence illustrating what we already know (precast concrete does not burn) is very important, but we see the issues surrounding fire resilience as being much bigger than this. Real-life fire scenario testing prevents misleading results – and in some cases lies. Almost all of fire tests are currently 74

3 being conducted in a lab environment where everything is controlled. However, in many cases these test results can be very misleading to show the material has actually perform better than it actually has. I recognise that some lab tests may be required but would encourage manufacturers to take the time and invest in a similar strategy to the journey we have embarked on. We wanted to replicate how a real-life fire would behave, so we can accurately assess a materials performance. I believe these tests should be conducted side-by-side so that the performance of each could be properly assessed and more importantly graded. To simply state a construction material has passed a fire test shouldn’t be enough. Those

Major Health Risk to the Public Student accommodation and private apartments – parents are now really concerned about the safety of their children when they send them off to university and where they stay. How long will it be before these families are asking the university what materials have been used to construct this student accommodation or apartment complex? The same can be said for hotels and hostels. People need to know that the buildings they stay in is as safe as possible and all potential risks have been minimised. To simply state that the material used passed the two hour threshold is not enough. What happens after the two hour window? How is Precast Different? During our initial tests, we have discovered that even after multiple fire tests of the same compartment, its structural integrity of the structure hadn’t been compromised. With some very light remedial work, the structure could be restored to full functionality. Not to mention any water used to extinguish a fire wouldn’t affect the structure either due to its high flood resilience. You can watch our fire test video at: For more information visit: Images: 01-03. Real-life fire testing is providing real-world solutions








Spantherm thermally efficient flooring from Creagh Concrete has being utilised at a new housing development in Stapleford, Nottingham with the developer delighted with the results. Stapleford Oaks opted for the work to be completed by Creagh’s expert fitting team, requiring no labour from them. Once in place and grouted, the floor achieves its full structural capability within 72 hours but building activity can commence on perimeter walls within 24 hours.


2 By producing high performance insulated structural concrete units via a quality-controlled factory offsite process, Creagh have redefined the speed of installing a fully-insulated ground-floor. Spantherm is an insulated, precast concrete flooring system designed specifically for residential and commercial groundfloors and is being adopted by a growing number of housebuilders and developers. This is the next generation of structural flooring systems designed as the efficient alternative to labour intensive beam and block installation. Spantherm was recently used to great effect at a new housing development in Stapleford, Nottingham. Malcolm Flinn, Director of Stapleford Oaks Ltd, said: “I chose Spantherm because it’s labour saving, has made life easier for me, its quick, efficient and clean.” 76

3 Housebuilders are increasingly exploring the opportunities for new ideas to reduce labour onsite and boost efficiency in the build and it makes sense that they start with the ground-floor. Spantherm is installed in just minutes – not days. The composite slab combines structural grade reinforced concrete and high performance expanded polystyrene insulation to provide a thermally efficient structural floor. The initial appeal of Spantherm is clear, as a typical floor on a detached house or a pair of semi-detached homes is fitted onsite in less than two hours. Using Spantherm increases productivity and enhances health and safety onsite, minimises waste and vehicle movements are reduced, all contributing to overall environmental benefits.

A Spantherm ground-floor can be installed in just 90 minutes and provides level base without camber for timber frame or block construction. Installation is not affected by adverse weather conditions and secondary screeds with extended drying times are not required. Spantherm is designed to reduce cold bridging at wall/ floor junctions making an important contribution to Part L performance. Spantherm is available in three performance options designed to boost building performance and an achieve U-value as low as 0.12W/m2K. It is also a fabric first solution, integrating structural concrete with expanded polystyrene insulation. The tightly butted units lock in the thermal performance efficiently across the slab. “I would use Spantherm again because the block and beam method takes so many more men and machines on-site and takes a lot longer to lay. It also leaves a lot of work for the bricklayers to do at floor level. With Spantherm we are off and building almost straight away.” For more information visit: or email: Watch the Stapleford Oaks video testimonial at www.creaghconcrete. com/products/spantherm Images: 01-03. Spantherm is an insulated, precast concrete flooring system designed specifically for residential and commercial ground-floors


BENEFITS • Efficient alternative to beam and block • 90m² floor installed in 90 minutes • Labour radically reduced • Zero waste & storage on-site • Efficient & cost effective • Use with a membrane for effective ground gas protection

HASSLE-FREE INSULATED PRECAST CONCRETE FLOORING Spantherm is an insulated, precast concrete flooring system designed specifically for residential and commercial ground floors. By producing high performance insulated structural concrete units off-site we have redefined the speed of installing a fully insulated ground floor. This is the next generation of fully compliant flooring systems designed as the efficient alternative to the labour intensive beam and block installations. With exceptional Psi and U values, Spantherm reduces cold-bridging at the wall/floor junctions providing a cost effective route for all build types including timber frame.

• Install in any weather • Reduces CO2 emissions, requiring less energy to heat the building

England & Wales: PART L 2010 Scotland: Section 6 2004 Northern Ireland: PART F1 & F2 2012 Republic of Ireland: PART L 2007 NZEB Compliant 2019

13/4974 products/spantherm

ENGLAND Hoveringham Nottinghamshire

IRELAND Toomebridge Co. Antrim

SCOTLAND Newbridge Edinburgh

Tel: 01636 552 212

Tel: 028 7965 0500

Tel: 0131 333 5405



Providing unique insight into the engineering feats that are shaping the UK’s city skylines, and recognising excellence in the sector, the Tall Buildings Conference and Tall Buildings Award Ceremony will be taking place at 99 City Road, London on 13 May 2020.

Tall Buildings Awards Tall buildings present unique challenges. Innovation is happening at pace and through detailed case studies and pioneering speakers who are at the cutting-edge of the high-rise sector, construction professionals will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the unprecedented demands of developing mega-structures. Unique design and engineering solutions are being developed to maximise space in city centres where demand is high, requiring elevated solutions to provide more homes and commercial space.


The Tall Buildings Conference offers invaluable insight surrounding the challenges associated with transferring engineering principles from low and medium-rise to the super-structures that are making headlines across the UK. The conference will provide sector intelligence and expertise together with a discussion forum for all those

Tall Buildings involved in designing, engineering Magazine and developing of tall buildings across the UK and beyond.

Last year’s specialist conference speakers included representatives from AKT II, Cogent Consulting, New London Architecture, Mace, Design 2e and SOM, amongst others. At the 2020 Conference, industry experts will tackle trending topics such as innovations in concrete, designing for high-rise living and the plans to move towards zerocarbon tall buildings together with the UK's first wind microclimate guidelines. The conference will be supported by a high-level exhibition featuring the latest technology advances.

GET INVOLVED The Tall Buildings Conference is aimed at attracting major city developers, investors, local authorities, and architects together with engineers and contractors who are focusing on the delivery of tall buildings. The dedicated specialist event will provide an opportunity to align your products and services with those at the cutting-edge of the high-rise industry. For details on sponsorship and exhibition opportunities contact: To secure your delegate place, which includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day, go to:



Following on from the conference and exhibition, on the evening of 13 May, the inaugural Tall Buildings Awards Ceremony will take place to celebrate innovative technologies, projects and people.

CALL FOR ENTERIES With fourteen categories, the Tall Buildings Awards will celebrate the best commercial, residential, mixed-use, sustainable and retrofit projects, as well as the best tall building interior fit-out, MEP services, facade engineering and building technology innovation. On top of this, industry pioneers will be celebrated with awards recognising the best project manager, client, contractor, architect and engineer. These awards offer the opportunity for ground-breaking construction project and inspirational pioneers to take centre stage and gain recognition for excellence in the high-rise sector. The submission deadline is Friday 28 February 2020. Entering the awards is completely free and finalists will be showcased in the forth coming Tall Buildings Magazine.

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY AND BOOK YOUR PLACE To book your place or to gain information on the Tall Buildings Awards and categories go to: www. Or call Rhian Hassall on 01743 290 001 or email


Leading the way in

Structural Insulated Panel Technology

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IN N O VAT I O N IN L IF T IN G Britlift are a designer and manufacturer of lifting equipment, specialising in the lifting of modular homes, bathroom pods, commercial modules, containerised structures and pre-cast components. With a wealth of experience in the design and manufacture of lifting frames and lifting systems to the Offsite Construction sector, Britlift are the Offsite sector partner of choice.




2019 WINNER Sponsors: 23

offsite module lifting equipment

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FACTORY FITTING MADE EASIER BY NEW 3M WIDE AIRTIGHTNESS MEMBRANE Protect Membranes, UK producer of construction and roofing membranes, has introduced a new 3m wide variant of its popular Protect BarriAir membrane, designed for ease of installation within a factory environment and to support the rapid rise in offsite construction. Protect BarriAir is a high performance air barrier with vapour control qualities, suitable for use internally on walls, floors and ceilings in multiple construction types such as timber frame, precast concrete and traditional, brick and block construction. Tough, durable and with high tear resistance, the membrane provides an airtight system when installed with sealed laps, helping to dramatically reduce heat loss through the building fabric and ensuring strict airtightness levels can be met.

John Mellor, Product Manager of Protect Membranes says: “Following the continued success of our existing BarriAir product, our instantly recognisable yellow membrane is well known to deliver added value to many new build projects, including the more challenging Passivhaus developments. The availability of the 3m wide BarriAir option will now mean that factory produced structures which are delivered to site as closed panels can achieve overall time saving benefits when the membrane is installed.”

Protect BarriAir is CE-marked, produced in the UK and available ex-stock in 3m or 1.5m widths and 50m lengths, the latter being supplied with integral tape. For more details visit: email: info@protectmembranes. com or call 0161 905 5700, quoting Protect BarriAir 3m. Images: 01. Protect BarriAir air barrier with vapour control properties is now available in 3m wide rolls

Coordinate your build at every stage using MWF Pro today. The built in intelligence and automation of MWF Pro elevates your Revit® workflow, creating accurate framing documentation and CNC code without ever leaving your BIM model.

Visit us on stand F29 in the Offsite Construction Section at Futurebuild, March 3 - 5 2020 Contact our Liverpool Team today to see how MWF can transform your next project.

+44 151 433 3007



Offsite manufacturers are continually looking to refine and improve their build process in order to supply better quality product into the market, all the while reducing production time, waste and cost. On The Level (OTL) manufactures and supplies bespoke wet room flooring systems in readiness for either vinyl sheet flooring or tile finishes. OTL’s made to measure shower floors are manufactured to suit any bathroom design, offering complete flexibility on size, shape and gully locations making it easy for design teams working in offsite manufacturing. Early engagement and collaboration with volumetric, bathroom pod and other offsite building manufacturers allows OTL to overcome design challenges in advance of factory production. The company use sustainable Birch Ply materials and keeps the installation process simple for factory-based operatives to install their floors, speeding up workflow.

Made to exacting measurements, complete bathroom floors can be produced with integrated falls in shower areas. Upstands can be added for internal walls boards to be constructed upon ready for floor and wall finishes. For tiled applications – decorative grilles and channels are available in many designs and finishes providing lots of choice for architects and designers.

Established for over 30 years, OTL has a wealth of experience and continues to work with well-known offsite manufacturers, delivering projects in multiple sectors, including hotel, residential, healthcare, student accommodation and MoD projects. For more information phone: 0843 7787 308 or email:

22-23 SEPTEMBER 2020


Rarely does an event get such overwhelmingly positive feedback in its launch year but Offsite Expo certainly exceeded expectations. The commendations for this event were universal – visitors, sponsors, speakers and exhibitors all agreed this was the most focused, informative and progressive construction event of the year.

Plans are now well underway for the next Offsite Expo taking place on 22-23 September at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. The event will once again feature informative speaker content but new for 2020 will be ‘live’ feature builds, machinery demonstrations and by considerable demand – technical guided tours hosted by Cogent Consulting.

The inaugural Offsite Expo attracted 2,874 unique visitors, the exhibition was a total sell-out, with over 100 companies promoting offsite systems, technologies and services but this of course, was only part of the equation. Offsite Expo was developed as a platform to share knowledge and with over 40 hours of CPD accredited presentations, the event was hailed as having the most informative and inspirational content.


Steve Thompson, from leading sponsor EOS, specialists in the design and offsite manufacture of groundbreaking steel framing systems (SFS) said: “Our investment in building the Offsite Expo masterclass theatre in 2019 paid dividends, the event presented phenomenal business opportunities for EOS. The launch of our Thrubuild® loadbearing system attracted much attention from those looking for robust and reliable fasttrack construction solutions. EOS will once again be taking centre stage at Offsite Expo with a high-profile presence at the 2020 event.”

Leading offsite expert from Cogent Consulting, Darren Richards, the main curator of the 2020 event said: “Our strategy for the next Offsite Expo will be simple but effective – we will focus our efforts on compiling the most compelling content. From technical tours and feature builds to pioneering speakers presenting ground-breaking project case studies underpinned by showcasing emerging technologies that are set to revolutionise the construction arena. Demand is ramping up for innovative offsite solutions and our industry intelligence demonstrates that construction professionals are looking for cuttingedge content.”

It is not only the exhibition that has exciting development plans, for the first time Offsite Expo 2020 will host the dynamic and innovative Offsite Construction Awards. After the high


22-23 SEPTEMBER 2020 demand for tickets last year, this move will give the team behind the Awards room to expand and build the event. The Offsite Awards (now in its sixth year) will see the introduction of four new categories for 2020. Following the phenomenal interest into the Housing Category for 2019, the category has been split into Private Housing Project of the Year and Social Housing Project of the Year. The Offsite Awards is expanding its reach and reflecting the wider adoption of offsite technology, with an additional two new categories these new categories include Building Performance Pioneer Award which focuses on the importance of energy efficiency post build and International Offsite Project of the Year – opening the Awards to international entries. The deadline for submissions is the 15 May 2020, with the finalists being announced ahead of the Awards ceremony which will take place at Offsite Expo on the 22 September 2020.


The greatest success of the 2019 event for many, were the business development opportunities secured in the Offsite Connect Buyers and Specifiers Forum, which was a hive of activity and open exclusively to exhibitors. With over 100 buyers and specifiers participating in the initial Offsite Connect business forum from high profile construction companies such as Mace, Willmott Dixon, Kier, Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try – nearly 400 business meetings took place and feedback from both the buyers and exhibitors has been tremendous. Participating buyer, Simon Stone, Supply Chain Manager for Galliford Try said: “The format worked really well and enabled me to get the most out of the event. I look forward to participating in further events.” Exhibitor, Tom Fairlie from Walker Timber Group was equally impressed adding: “Offsite Connect provided a fantastic opportunity for exhibitors to hold focused business meetings and discussions regarding the benefits of specifying timber frame technology and sustainable modern methods of construction.”

GET INVOLVED With over 75% of the inaugural exhibitors and sponsors rebooking for the 2020 event, offsite manufacturers and component suppliers are advised not to leave it too late to book promotional packages to ensure they maximise this highly targeted business opportunity. Julie Williams, Event Director said: “The response to Offsite Expo has been truly astounding, as we enter a new year the exhibition is close to selling out. It is really inspiring to see the world of offsite gathering to showcase the latest technology options and innovations within the sector. The event’s positioning, content and timing reflects the mood within the construction sector and the buzz around this show is exceptional.” For more information on getting involved in Offsite Expo 2020 as an Exhibitor or Sponsor contact the Event Director, Julie Williams: 01743 290 001 or email:





At a time when the need for fast-track construction solutions has never been greater, the award-winning team at EOS are facing unprecedented demand for their innovative steel framing systems (SFS), including the company’s revolutionary integrated floor and walling solutions – Thrubuild®.

To meet this growth, the EOS management team have further plans to extend the leading offsite innovators advanced manufacturing facility as the construction industry looks to robust steel framing solutions to meet stringent fire and building regulations. With experience across all construction sectors – the EOS team will be taking to the road in 2020 to showcase their expertise in the design, manufacture and supply of a wide range of bespoke steel systems for the offsite markets. By combining strength, durability and precision engineering, the EOS portfolio offers broad parameters to explore innovative solutions and optimise value engineering. Managing Director Steve Thompson said: ‘With the launch of our innovative new systems in 2019 and our specialist partnering services, I’m delighted to report that we are gearing up to meet this upsurge and exhibiting at some of the UK’s largest offsite events, so we can meet in person more potential clients. Following the success of our attendance at Offsite Expo last year, we will be there in force again in 2020 as


Gold Sponsors, with a major presence showcasing our Thrubuild® systems in the construction of our custom-built stand and the Masterclass Seminar Theatre.’ The EOS Thrubuild® loadbearing and non-loadbearing systems have been developed as an integrated solution, using a range of light steel framing, Siniat Weather Defence external sheathing board, and Siniat Frameboard - an internal plasterboard exclusively developed for the EOS loadbearing systems by Siniat – a world leader in plasterboard materials. These complete floor and walling systems carry a 30-year warranty and have been tested and assessed for compliance with the latest regulations and standards to ensure robust and reliable performance. Design performance is achieved using combinations of boarding and insulation. Almost all building arrangements can be achieved, and non-loadbearing drywall systems can also be used to sub-divide space following initial construction of the building system.

Steve Thompson said of the product development: ‘The combination of expertise within Etex in drylining, external sheathing and steel framing systems, as well as passive fire protection, means that we are uniquely positioned to bring together these elements to create a range of tested and warrantied Thrubuild® systems. Meeting building performance requirements for fire, thermal, weathering, acoustics and airtightness – the range of Thrubuild® systems deliver an ‘all in one’ solution providing crucial time and cost benefits.’ Not only do the specialists at EOS push the boundaries by investing in advanced manufacturing facilities and product development but where the firm excels, is building excellent working relationships based on customer needs. Through collaborative working and by forming strategic alliances, EOS provide specialist services to businesses, large and small, including some of the most prominent companies in construction.


OFFSITE EXPO GOLD EXHIBITOR MEET THE TEAM From Manchester to London and the West Midlands – the EOS team will be exhibiting and presenting at the following construction events:



29 January 2020 Building Centre, London Light Steel Frame Association (LSFA) event bringing together manufacturers and professionals within the industry, the Focus on Framing seminar is the first steel focused event of the year.

03 - 05 March 2020 ExCeL, London An opportunity to gain unrivalled insight and hands-on experience around the latest innovations, products and materials in order to address the challenges being faced by the built environment.

13 May 2020 99 City Road, London Tall Buildings Conference will highlight design and building technology innovation in the UK high-rise sector – facilitating learning and knowledge transfer together with providing a platform for discussion and debate.



04 June 2020 Birmingham Light Steel Frame Association (LSFA) event shining a spotlight on pioneering projects using innovative light steel framing solutions.


29 - 30 April 2020 National Conference Centre, Birmingham The combined conference and exhibition will showcase groundbreaking offsite construction solutions and focus on the latest developments, innovations and investments in the offsite sector across a range of vertical markets.

20 October 2020 National Conference Centre, Birmingham Modular Matters will focus on the latest developments, innovations and investments in the volumetric modular offsite sector and aims to engage with industry pioneers from within the offsite supply-chain, leading designers, specifiers, engineers and groundbreaking clients.


22 - 23 September 2020 RICOH ARENA - COVENTRY Ricoh Arena, Coventry CONSTRUCTION



Bringing together those who are driving change in the construction sector – the event will play host to the leading UK and international offsite manufacturers and component suppliers showcasing a broad spectrum of panelised, volumetric modular, pod and prefabricated solutions. STAND NO: G17 & G21



09 November 2020 Manchester Light Steel Frame Association (LSFA) event created to demonstrate industry innovation through high-profile speakers and pioneering case study presentations.

To pre-schedule a meeting at any of these events: Email: Call: +44 (0) 1325 303030

2020 Site Study Tour To register your interest in the 2020 site study tour: Email:

VISIT THE EOS VIDEO VAULT If you cannot make it to one of these events, you can gain an in-depth insight into how the award-winning team at EOS are shaping the future of steel framing systems and experience a site study tour around one of the company’s high profile developments, as well as view a series of testimonials from renowned construction clients by visiting:

EOS PRODUCTS AND SERVICES With a comprehensive spectrum of products and services, including the groundbreaking Thrubuild® systems, a fully tested load-bearing light steel solution, underpinned by a substantial investment in state-of the-art technology. EOS has the capability and capacity to meet the exacting demands of the construction industry. For more details on products and services visit:





With over 40 years’ experience, Smart Architectural Aluminium has grown to become the UK’s leading supplier of window and door systems, with the company earning an enviable reputation not only for the quality, breadth and depth of our product range, but also for our innovation, design and technical expertise and our customer-focused support services.

Based in the south west of England, we operate from a modern, purpose-built 60,000m² manufacturing plant, which is home to our three extrusion presses and three state-of-the-art paint lines, as well as our logistics and distribution hub. Across all our operations, from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of finished goods, we are fully committed to reducing our impact on the environment and are working hard to become both carbon-neutral and energy self-sufficient. Our product portfolio is as wide as it is deep, with a comprehensive range of high-performance, highquality window, door, curtain wall and

framing solutions. Working closely with architects, contractors, fabricators and installers, our systems have been specified on a broad range of both new build and refurbishment projects of varying scale, scope and complexity – spanning both commercial and residential schemes across the public and private sectors. For more information visit:




ModPods is the brainchild of Andy Cornaby and Pete Farrelly of the Just Solutions Group. Andy was approached three years ago by Birmingham City Council (BCC) to look at ways of tackling their housing shortage – one that is shared across the UK.

From setting out the primary USPs and objectives to maximise impact, a set of initial draft designs were created and the journey with BCC and Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) began. ModPods International was born and specific detail was paid to creating desirable living space, quickly and effectively that can be easily maintained by any asset team long term, but with affordability at the heart of the project. It was vital that the pods had to exceed NDSS minimum living standards in order to offer the customer a temporary or permanent

housing option, and equally as important that all services be live once the pod is sited allowing immediate occupation. Completed offsite and factory-built in a controlled precision environment, the ModPod range is a modern, innovative housing solution that can transform brownfield sites that have been an eye-sore and nuisance for so long and offer a secure and long term housing option. For more information visit:


ARV Solutions are recruitment specialists in engineering, construction and manufacturing. With over 15 years’ experience as market leaders our team have an undisputable passion and love of the industry.


From setting out the primary USPs and We place permanent and contract candidates from Graduates and Designers to Directors and Executives across the UK and internationally. We are leaders in recruiting for timber frame, modular building and the wider offsite and construction, and sustainability sectors.

As the UK's leading recruiter in offsite construction we have an enviable reputation for our recruitment solutions across modular building, pods, timber frame and roof truss, timber engineering, timber supply, curtain walling, cladding, SIPS, light steel frame and wider ranging offsite / MMC and sustainability areas.

We provide tailored and personal recruitment services, with professionalism, innovation, and good communication all intelligently combined. This is backed up by our clients, the majority of whom bring repeat business and/or are referred to us.

If you are an employer looking for a new talent partner or a candidate looking for the next perfect with you no one is better placed to help move your career, your business and the industry forward. For more information visit: 0117 959 2008




Tekla is market leading software from Trimble serving the construction and engineering industries. Tekla model based software consists of programs for analysis and design, detailing and project communication. Tekla software lies at the heart of the design and construction workflow, building on the free flow of information, constructible models and collaboration so projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Tekla software lies at the heart of the design and construction workflow, building on the free flow of information, constructible models and collaboration so projects are delivered on time and within budget. Tekla’s most acclaimed software products: Tekla Structures 3D BIM software, allows you to create highly detailed constructible models letting information flow from design and detailing to the construction site. Tekla Structural Designer, a fully automated structural design software helping engineering businesses progress from the quick comparison of alternative design schemes through to cost-effective change management and seamless BIM collaborations.

Tekla Tedds, a powerful software to automate repetitive structural calculations. Tekla Tedds allows you to choose from one or more of our regularly updated calculation libraries or write your own and combine your structural calculations. Trimble Connect, an open collaboration tool that provides instant construction ready project information such as viewing, reviewing and referencing Tekla models and drawings. Trimble Connect connects the right people to the right data and the right time enhancing project efficiency. For more information visit:


Stocked and serviced in the UK for more than 25 years, Aptus Fastener Systems have developed the most comprehensive range of innovative fastening solutions for offsite construction.

We stock and distribute a broad range of industrial fasteners and associated components to meet the structural design parameters for timber buildings under Eurocode 5. Whether you are constructing within panelised methods – timber frame and structural insulated panels (SIPS), volumetric construction techniques, cross laminated timber (CLT), glulam technology or hybrid applications – together with long-term German manufacturing partners Heco Schrauben and Pitzl, Aptus Fastener Systems will have a solution that suits your needs. Our comprehensive range of products and services has been developed with modern sustainable building technologies in mind. We have

recognised that as new construction methods emerge, our range of fasteners must keep pace, so we have developed a specialist range of ETAapproved innovative fasteners from market-leading manufacturers across Europe and beyond. In partnership with your engineers, our technical support extends to installation guidelines, thread geometry, fastener surface finishes and design guidance. Working with our supply partners, Heco Schrauben and Pitzl we can support both the offsite manufacturer and the onsite professional. For more information visit:





Rotho Blaas is an Italian multinational with origins in the Alpine region, trusted by British customers since 2010. Pioneer when it comes to the development and distribution of highly technological solutions in the timber construction sector, Rotho Blaas’s strengths lie in its technical skills and professionalism, supported by its many years of experience.

Developing most of its very own products, from the concept to the solution up until their market launch, technicians and product experts work on the design of all fastenings, waterproofing, airtightness and fall protection systems to be able to offer comprehensive solutions in the broad spectrum of building materials. Rotho Blaas’ role is to develop and offer solutions to improve timber structures, by researching and developing technical products aimed to quality of life improvement and environmental sustainability. Rotho Blaas’ offer includes personalized support to find solutions which are perfectly suited to the customer’s requirements.

Rothoblaas is a frontline ambassador for timber: for over 8 years it has been organizing courses on the most current topics of design and implementation of timber buildings. After great success of last year, Rothoschool will be touring in London again, with stops in Reykjavik and Dublin. Rothoblaas today counts 11 distribution centres worldwide and is currently represented in 28 countries. The company employs over 300 timber enthusiasts worldwide and counts on 6 technicians in the UK and Ireland. For more information visit:


In an ever more responsible world, the importance of wood keeps growing. Metsä Wood provides premium-quality timber products for construction, industrial and distribution customers. Our aim is to be the best partner for these customers, opening up the almost endless possibilities of wood.


We use 100% traceable wood from northern forests, a sustainable raw material of the finest quality. These forests surround our facilities – this ensures a never-ending, reliable supply. Our primary products are Kerto® LVL (laminated veneer lumber), birch and spruce plywood and Nordic premium timber. Our key strength is industrial efficiency delivered through true commitment, reliability and quality. We continuously demand more from both our partners and ourselves. Our focus is on industrial-scale production and sales of premium-quality engineered wood

products. We support our customers, allowing them to focus on their core business and their growth. We are a frontrunner in creating value with premium-quality sustainable Nordic wood. Our values are responsible profitability, reliability, co-operation and renewal. Metsä Wood is part of Metsä Group, which covers the whole wood value chain from sapling to product. Make the most of wood. For more information visit:




ROCKWOOL Limited is part of the ROCKWOOL Group. With one factory and over 400 employees, we offer advanced insulation systems for buildings.

At the ROCKWOOL Group, we are committed to enriching the lives of everyone who experiences our product solutions. Our expertise is perfectly suited to tackle many of today’s biggest sustainability and development challenges, from energy consumption and noise pollution to fire resilience. Our product range reflects the diversity of the world’s needs, while supporting our stakeholders in reducing their own carbon footprint. Your Offsite Partner Changes in the market in relation to both an increase in demand and enhanced manufacturing capabilities,

have led to some significant changes in the building supply chain and the growth of the offsite sector. By recognising the unique requirements of offsite construction, ROCKWOOL are the natural choice for the offsite market. By partnering with ROCKWOOL, offsite manufacturers can benefit from access to robust comprehensive solutions that are suitable for a range of applications, objective design assistance to produce precise calculations and specialist support. For more information visit:


MWF Pro is the ultimate Revit® add-on for wood and light gauge steel builders. Capable of framing virtually any project from single family homes to large scale multifamily structures, MWF Pro allows its users to create custom framing to define all aspects of wall, floor and roof framing.

Precise framing data for all layers of a wall can be implemented to automate everything from structural framing, furring, clapboard and sheathing. The software can then automatically apply the framing throughout the Revit® model, while differentiating wall types, openings and penetrations throughout your Revit® project. With 3D framing complete, the project’s 2D panel drawings, cut lists, bill of materials and optional CNC output are a click away.

provided by MWF. Users can then organize, coordinate and report their panel manufacturing process as bundles are stacked according to the construction model and how they will be handled onsite. MWF allows for a quick and seamless design to manufacturing solution. For more information visit:

Using your roll former, automated wood saw or panelising machine, panels are then produced and cut to exact measurements as reported by the construction documentation



OFFSITE EXPO EXHIBITORS Offsite Expo will play host to the leading UK and international offsite manufacturers and component suppliers showcasing a broad spectrum of panelised, volumetric modular solutions, pod and prefabricated MEP solutions. Here is a sample of companies that will be at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 22 & 23 September 2020...

The Ayrshire Group can trace its roots back to 1819, when it was a builder of ships on the Ayrshire coast. The group’s company is the UK's leading supplier of cold rolled products to a diverse range of markets and industries. The Ayrshire group operates from 3 different sites in the UK, with its headquarters based in Daventry, Northamptonshire and two other sites in St.Helens, Merseyside and Warley in the West Midlands as well as a subsidiary in Germany. For more information visit: STAND NO: E17

Britmet are the only British manufacturer of lightweight roofing systems in the UK, offering roofing solutions for all building types from residential housing to education facilities. As well as being the only UK manufacturer of lightweight roofing systems, they also have the widest range of products on the market place including roofing accessories, rainwater goods, soffit and facia goods, and breathable membranes. For more information visit: STAND NO: E01

CFRC is a research Centre based at the University of Wolverhampton and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The ultimate aim of CFRC is to improve the efficiency of the construction centre by using smart productivity improvements for offsite design, manufacture and construction. Advanced tools and techniques mean that CFRC can simulate the entire process right through from design to the operation of built assets. CFRC’s strive to develop ground-breaking methodologies for process simulations leading to significant productivity and gains for the region. For more information visit: STAND NO: Z08

Dulux and Dulux Trade are two of the brands owned by AkzoNobel, which creates paints and performance coatings for trade and retail customers worldwide. Akzo also own the Armstead, Sikkens, Hammerite, Polycell and Cuprinol brands. Sustainability is one of our key drivers and we offer a number of paint, specification, colour and delivery services to ensure that we can truly partner with our customers. If you need any help with anything paint related, please come and speak to us. For more information visit: STAND NO: C20

Ellis is a 200-strong team of creative, passionate and skilled people, providing design-led interior solutions for kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and loose furniture projects. Based in West Yorkshire, we have teams in place to manage every part of your project from design consultation through to installation and after-care, including everything in-between, and we cover the entire UK. For more information visit: STAND NO: C19

Flight Timber Structures have been supplying truly bespoke, self-build timber frame structures, roof trusses and joist since 1992. We are experts offering a comprehensive and professional design and manufacturing service within the timber frame selfbuild and commercial industry. We are small enough to offer you a highly personal and bespoke service where your order really matters, but large enough to be able to invest in our people, up to date systems, software, plant and equipment to deliver the highest quality timber frame for your dream home. For more information visit: STAND NO: Z32




HEAT³ is custom-made shrink wrap transportation bags manufacturer, delivering packaging solutions around the world. HEAT³ shrink wrap bags minimise significantly time used for packaging modular units offsite and unpacking onsite. Perfectly fitting bags minimise modules manufacturers factory packaging waste up to zero. Bags themselves are also recyclable. HEAT³ shrink wrap bags helps to standardise your packaging procedures, so minimising all risks concerning protecting modules during transportation and storage. Size doesn’t matter – the bigger the better! Location doesn’t matter – bags can be shipped to your sites everywhere!

Howick manufactures high-technology roll-forming machines for steel framing automation, and distributes globally to 75 countries. Howick combines software with hardware that makes building possible in less time, with more precision and efficiency. Driven by accurate computer control our machines turn metal sheets into steel profiles ready for assembly into frames, trusses, floor cassettes, walls. We are proud to be a part of the “modern methods of construction” groundswell where technology driven construction brings solutions of efficiency, speed, increased quality, time and cost savings.

For more information visit:

For more information visit:


Kerkstoel 2000+ is one of the most innovative concrete companies in Europe. It is part of the Kerkstoel Group and is based in Grobbendonk (Belgium). It specialises in the production of precast concrete walls and floors. Every precast element is made to measure in a highly automated factory. Based on the architect's design (general arrangements and cross-sections), structural calculations, formwork and installation plans, Kerkstoel 2000+ develops an installation plan, with all the necessary details, so that everything runs smoothly and according to plan on site. For more information visit:

Intelligent Steel Solutions Ltd is a design, manufacture and installation company offering high quality cold-formed structural steel to the construction industry. LSF is an innovative solution that is now a growing trend within the UK construction industry. It is being used for everything from small bespoke renovation projects to large-scale new build developments of up to nine storeys in height. For more information visit: STAND NO: E18


Kiwa supports companies and organisations to go forward as an independent, impartial and innovative partner. Kiwa’s core business lies in activities in testing, inspection and certification with related training, technology and data services. The specialists from Kiwa aim for a long-term relationship with you that is based on equality in order to help you improve your organisation, products, services, processes, management systems and employees. For more information visit: STAND NO: G05

LABC brings together all the building control expertise, skills and resources from over 3,500 professionals working across every local authority in England and Wales. LABC works with homeowners, designers, professionals in construction and manufacturers to ensure building projects achieve the standards defined in the building regulations. They also have a network of over 3,500 professional surveyors that provides clients with fast, impartial and expert advice. Whatever your position whether it be a homeowner, architect, contractor or any other professional, LABC will work with you to ensure your buildings are safe, healthy, inclusive and efficient. For more information visit:





Lucideon’s knowledge and experience of the construction industry is backed up by multifaceted testing, consultancy and R&D capabilities. We work throughout the lifecycle of clients’ products, systems and buildings, from developing new materials and laboratory testing, to factory production control and on-site investigations. For offsite and modular buildings, we can help at all stages of the design and construction process, from materials selection and manufacturing, to installation and verification. Our integrated solutions combine multiple disciplines to create a comprehensive and unified solution. For more information visit:

Marmox is a leading manufacturer of high-performance waterproofing and insulation solutions for walls and floors. At Offsite Expo Marmox will be featuring their innovative solutions for waterproofing, insulation and sound reduction. Marmox will feature Slicedstone Mosaics their latest new product introduction for residential and commercial applications. Slicedstone can be used in conjunction with our shower formers to create stylish, inspirational, high-performance walk-in shower, bathrooms and kitchens. Come and visit us to find out more and discuss your next project. For more information visit: STAND NO: A14


At Simpson Strong-Tie® we’re proud to be one of the world’s largest suppliers of structural building products. Our extensive range of connectors for timber construction includes everything from hangers to hold downs, angle brackets and nail plates, and is complemented by our comprehensive collection of CE marked structural timber screws and anchoring systems. All of our products are engineered and quality tested to help you design and build safer, stronger structures, whether you’re working with timber joists or trusses, CLT and glulam or modular and SIP builds.

For more information visit:

For more information visit:


For more information visit: STAND NO: Z25

Connecting with the industry to provide a flagship Structural Warranty & Building Control service to support the quality of building for Residential & Commercial projects throughout the UK. Premier Guarantee recognise the unique challenges through which different requirements may affect your development. As part of your team, we have the capability to deliver solutions to every project we are involved in through our consistent and professional approach to the interpretation of Warranty and Building Control regulation. Our Product Approval process is one of the most robust in the market.


Peter Dann are an award-winning engineering consultancy who specialise in structural and civil design. They offer a broad range of services within the construction industry, covering all sectors including commercial, education, industrial, hotel and leisure, medical, residential, restoration, civil and retail. Peter Dann is a sustainable design practice, working toward green initiatives on all of their projects where viable. With over 50 years’ experience, the company aims to always exceed their client’s requirements through dynamic, efficient and economical civil and structural solutions for the built environment.

SIPCO offer a complete Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) design, manufacture, supply and installation project management service, which can be tailored to suit your specific requirements. Since the birth of the company in 2010, SIPCO has become one of the leading SIP companies in the UK, and have completed several high profile projects, working with both major developers such as BAM, Morgan Sindall and Shepherd Construction, plus over 250 self-build projects.

For more information visit:





Stakapal are leading UK manufacturers of a comprehensive range of storage equipment and have supplied the industry with storage solutions for over 50 years. From our purpose built factory in Cannock, Staffordshire we manufacture Pallet Racking, Cantilever Racking, Vertical Storage and Trade Display equipment plus a range of ancillary products. Working alongside each client we address their specific requirements and design optimum rack solutions, our in-house design and project teams provide a concept to completion service. For more information visit:

Tilcor Pressed Metal Roofing Systems offer exceptional strength and durability, standing up to the harshest environments. Watertight and fire resistant, our pressed steel roofing tiles can withstand hurricane-force winds. They can provide protection to high impact and can adapt to roof pitches lower than conventional materials with aesthetics to match traditional roof coverings. Weighing 85% less than traditional pitched roof systems, its ideal for modular and offsite construction. Tilcor tiles are suited to applications for residential, public sector and commercial pitched roofs and all products are covered by a 50-year warranty. For more information visit:


Through design, innovation and customer focus, Veka have continued to be the UK’s number one window systems company servicing the commercial, education, private and social housing sectors, as well as providing packages for trade users. Originally founded in Germany, Veka now have factories, offices, mixing plants, extrusion and lamination lines worldwide with more than 35 manufacturing and sales sites around the globe, including facilities across Europe, Asia, the Americas and Russia. For more information visit: STAND NO: Z07


Vertex Systems provide professional BIM software for wood and steel framing that automates design and manufacturing processes. Vertex BD automates the process of generating architectural drawings sets, panel fabrication drawings, structural layouts, cut lists, material reports and manufacturing data, all from the BIM model. For more information visit: STAND NO: E10

National reach with a local knowledge. Walker Timber is a market leader in timber engineering and construction. Our reputation is built on the quality of our products and the standard of work that we offer. We offer our customers a single point of contact and can provide everything for the build without needing to outsource from elsewhere – from the timber frame, floor and roof to MDF finishings. Our team can take care of estimates, contracts and design – right through to arranging the erection of the project. For more information visit: STAND NO: Z34

Wetherby Building Systems are the UK’s market leader in the design and supply of a wide range of solid wall insulation (SWI) systems, decorative render and brick slip finishes for the modular and offsite construction market. Wetherby’s innovative systems are compatible with a wide range of modern methods of construction, offering attractive, yet environmentally sympathetic façade solutions that have been successfully installed on many new build schemes, including domestic homes, commercial buildings and educational establishments for over 20 years. For more information visit: STAND NO: E19

For full details of exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at Offsite Expo contact: Julie Williams - or call 01743 290042 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 | WWW.OFFSITEMAGAZINE.CO.UK




There is nothing to lose and everything to gain, so if you are proud of your talented team, pioneering project or product innovation, there are just five questions to answer to seize the opportunity and take centre stage at the 2020 Offsite Construction Awards.

Since inception in 2015 the Offsite Construction Awards have been on an upward trajectory presenting professionals operating in the sector with outstanding opportunities to showcase excellence. Following this unprecedented success, the stakes will be raised in 2020 as the Offsite Construction Awards will be back at a new high-profile location, taking place at the UK's largest offsite technology event in the construction calendar – Offsite Expo. This move will offer entrants unparalleled opportunities to gain increased publicity from the heightened media interest surrounding the event, together with gaining the attention of prospective clients attending the preceding expo. With the levels of excellence and innovation in the sector, and the deadline approaching, now is the time for those at the cutting-edge of offsite


design, engineering, manufacturing and construction to start planning their award submissions. Why the Offsite Construction Awards is good for business The event is the ideal opportunity for construction professionals to maximise industry exposure by demonstrating what separates them from their competitors. Here are just five compelling reasons why entering the Offsite Construction Awards is good for business development; Gain Competitive Advantage There are many ways to get a competitive advantage in the sector. Offsite Construction Awards finalists will be promoted to a national audience, giving entrants the opportunity to make their mark on this economically important market.

Validation and Credibility With the calibre of the expert judging panel, an Offsite Construction Award win, short-listing or nomination can act as an endorsement for your business. A win can give a seal of approval to your activities and is a sign of quality for potential customers. It’s a great way of differentiating your company from competitors. Motivation and Reward Awards recognise hard work and achievements, so reaching the final or ultimately winning can boost morale, create better working relationships and improve motivation. Shining a spotlight on success, generates feelings of satisfaction and pride to be associated with a talented team and successful business.



PR and Marketing Business awards are one of the most effective marketing tactics. Just being shortlisted can improve brand awareness and promote expertise and innovation to new customers. Maximising media coverage surrounding the awards will drive traffic to websites and engagement on social media platforms. Awards celebrate hard work and success and generate great PR opportunities. Attracting Talent Competition is fierce when attracting the brightest and best to become part of your business and help generate further success. Awards evidence company stature and credentials among new recruits. By pitching your company as the ‘best’ will attract the right talent to push your business forward. Increased employee morale will also help attract and retain new recruits. Why Get involved? Entering the Offsite Construction Awards allows the most innovative achievements in offsite to be championed by the industry alongside those considered the nation’s best. Earning ‘highly commended’ or winning an award will earn entrant’s recognition within the offsite community, leading to an abundance of fresh prospects for each company.

The list of previous winners reads like the who’s who of building technology – but it’s not only the major players and the iconic buildings that pick up trophies – the Awards are renowned for unearthing those projects that may be small in stature but are awe inspiring in terms of innovation. It’s not only projects that receive great acclaim – people are at the forefront of the Offsite Construction Awards – architects, engineers, installers and clients are all recognised for their outstanding achievements.

Entries into the 2019 Offsite Construction Awards were phenomenal and the profile and coverage gained by all finalists and winners has helped to propel the offsite sector to another level. Reaching the finals of the Awards will earn recognition within the offsite community and the wider construction industry – opening doors to securing new business development opportunities.

ENTER TODAY Returning for 2020 at a new high-profile location, the Offsite Construction Awards promises to be the greatest yet with a high calibre of industry leading companies and inspiring projects expected to enter the 25 different categories. Do you have a project that you think is worthy of winning an Offsite Construction Award? If yes, start your entry today! The closing date for award submissions is the 15 May 2020 – enter any of the 25 categories free of charge by visiting: For more information about entering, sponsoring or attending the Offsite Construction Awards, contact Yvonne Beach on or 01743 290001



DATES FOR YOUR DIARY IN 2020 If you are interested in learning more about offsite construction and the associated manufacturing processes then the following industry events may be of interest: 03-05 March


ExCeL, London

Over 27,000 industry influencers and shapers visit this event with world class knowledge programme alongside an immersive exhibition of 450 innovative and inspiring brands and a host of networking events. 29-30 April

2020 Offsite Housing

NCC, Birmingham

Taking place on 29 & 30 April 2020 at the NCC Birmingham - the two-day event will demonstrate how migrating construction from the building site to a quality-controlled factory environment will accelerate the building process, increase productivity and create a new generation of high quality housing stock. 13 May

Tall Buildings Conference

99 City Road, London

Back by popular demand, Tall Buildings Conference is returning on 13 May 2020 in London and will assist engineers in understanding the common challenges associated with transferring standard engineering principles and knowledge from low-rise structures to tall buildings. 13 May

Tall Buildings Awards

Tall Buildings Awards

16 June

2020 Tall Buildings Awards

Tall Buildings Awards 2020

072020 July

99 City Road, London

Tall buildings present unique challenges in terms of both design and construction. Their sheer scale demands that particular attention is paid simultaneously to strategic and detailed issues. NEW FOR 2020 - Tall Buildings Awards is taking place on 13 May 2020 in London and will highlight design and building technology innovation in the UK high-rise sector. ENTRY DEADLINE: 28.02.20 Climate Emergency Conference


NEW for 2020 Climate Emergency Conference is designed to debate and share the work and ideas the construction sector is undertaking/ implementing to decrease the sector’s carbon emissions - to ensure the construction industry helps to tackle climate change and meet Government targets by 2050. Emerging Realities Conference

MTC, Coventry

Tall Buildings Awards

Tall Buildings Awards 2020

Tall Buildings Awards 2020

22-23 Sept

Offsite Expo


Offsite Expo brings together those who are driving change in the construction sector – the event will play host to the leading UK and international offsite manufacturers and component suppliers showcasing a broad spectrum of panelised, volumetric modular solutions, pod and prefabricated MEP solutions, as well as the latest in Digital and BIM technology.


By Boldesign for Radar Communications

This combined conference and exhibition is responding to the construction industry’s need to support and encourage digital innovation and digital engineering (AR/VR), innovative processes (robotics/automation) and new materials. The event will address FOUR main subject areas and challenges; Economic, Technology, Environmental and Productivity. Ricoh Arena, Coventry




22 Sept

Offsite Construction Awards

Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Relocated as part of Offsite Expo, the Offsite Construction Awards will take place on 22 September 2020 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry and will reward outstanding examples of prefabrication and factory-based methods, products, systems and disciplines that increasingly strive to develop a sustainable, streamlined and cost-effective way to deliver a better built environment. ENTRY DEADLINE: 15.05.20 07 October

Structural Timber Awards

NCC, Birmingham

Returning for its sixth year on 07 October 2020 in Birmingham, there has already been a large amount of attention focused on the 2020 Structural Timber Awards. The Awards once again will reward excellence, celebrate expertise in timber technology and the ways it contributes to an attractive, energy efficient and sustainable built environment. ENTRY DEADLINE: 29.05.20 20 October

Modular Matters

NCC, Birmingham

Returning to Birmingham on 20 October 2020, Modular Matters – in partnership with Modular & Portable Building Association (MPBA) - will focus on the latest developments, innovations and investments in the volumetric modular offsite sector and aims to engage with industry pioneers from within the offsite supply-chain, leading designers, specifiers, engineers and ground-breaking clients. 24-25 Nov

Construction Productivity


Taking place on 24 & 25 November 2020 in London - this event will gather together those who have the skills to define a roadmap to create a climate for change. With statistics finding only 64% of the hours worked deemed to be productive - the event will focus on new technologies, logistics, supply chains and materials management together with developing human resources to establish a workforce that is fit for the future.



Make the Light Steel Frame Association Part of Your 2020 Business Strategy! Established to influence legislation, regulation and to support the overall objectives and growth of the sector, the LIGHT STEEL FRAME ASSOCIATION (LSFA) is raising awareness of the performance and productivity benefits of steel framing systems. The Light Steel Frame Association works with our members to provide access to industry contacts, technical expertise and market intelligence to support growth and increase market share. Aimed at Manufacturers, Supply Chain, Consultants, Installers, Affiliates and Clients, LSFA members benefit from: Direct representation within the wider construction industry Positive influence and engagement to increase market share Dedicated marketing and PR campaign Industry collaboration and knowledge transfer Speaker, exhibitor and sponsor opportunities at key networking events, trade shows and conferences Strategic partnerships with other trade bodies Code of conduct - a standard of operating Highest quality technical standards, driven by our Technical Partners SCI Relevant and best-in-class training and education


JOIN TODAY! The collective power of the Light Steel Frame Association will drive growth and promote specification of innovative light steel frame systems across all construction sectors – to be part of something bigger, contact the team today:

T: 01743 290 030 E:

INTRODUCING THRUBUILD® A Faster Way of Specifying and Constructing Your Building Integrated floor and walling systems for loadbearing and non-loadbearing applications. Meeting building performance requirements for fire, thermal, weathering, acoustics and airtightness – our range of Thrubuild® systems deliver a fast-track ‘all in one’ solution providing crucial time and cost benefits.



Min. 100mm x 1.2mm (SS10012) EOS Stud* 2


2x 12.5mm Weather Defence externally. 3

Internal Boarding:

2x 12.5mm Siniat Frameboard internally. 4


100mm 45kg/m3 Rock Mineral Wool.

THRUBUILD® • Fully Tested Systems • 30-Year Warranty • Meets Building Performance Requirements • Achieves a Rapid Installation Process • Delivers Cost and Programme Certainty Part of Etex, EOS offers an unparalleled level of support from our design team. To learn more about our Thrubuild® systems contact the team today

Call: 01325 303 030 Email:

SMARTER, FASTER, GREENER CONSTRUCTION Market leaders in Modular Residential, Hotel and Student developments

Bollo Lane, Ealing - Residential

The Novotel and Olympic Way, Wembley - Hotel and Residential @tideconstruct Tide Construction is a leading property development and contracting company utilising both traditional and modular construction. Key benefits of our system include reduced construction programmes, less onsite disruption, an earlier return on investment and enhanced sustainability.

Savoy Circus, East Acton - Student Accommodation @visionmodular Vision Modular Systems embraces offsite construction by manufacturing turnkey modules for the construction industry using lean processes and techniques. The use of these innovative methods results in superior standards in quality, sustainability, regulatory compliance, health and safety.