The productivity of modular housebuilding has been reduced during the pandemic, with reductions in contractor output much like those seen in conventional construction, according to a new report from analysts at AMA Research.
The firm has forecast that overall output among panelised modular building contractors will have fallen 20 per cent below 2019 levels by the end of this year. It added that the total market for this type of offsite construction was worth £753m in 2019, but that the impact of the virus meant the overall market value will drop 15 per cent to £636m in 2020.
However, the report also forecast that all types of offsite construction are likely to return to full output more quickly than conventional sites, arguing that factory settings are better suited to safety measures such as social distancing. It forecast that the panelised modular market would return to growth in 2021 and surpass £700m in value again in 2022.
“The adaptation of the working environment has been an easier transition than a traditional construction setting, due to it being less labour intensive and requiring fewer personnel on site,” the research firm said in a statement. “With all construction work carried out on a production line, activity can be planned and monitored to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.”
Similar projections about the resilience of offsite approaches were made in September, at the launch of a report into the future of modular housing called Build Homes, Build Jobs, Build Innovation, jointly prepared by consulting firm Cast Consultancy and architecture practice HTA Design. The paper also cited research that found modular methods cut carbon emissions on a residential project in London by 40% compared to a traditional build process.
AMA Research also emphasised potential sustainability benefits. It said timber-based modular houses employ “a natural, renewable, low-carbon material” and that they “can be built, on average, eight weeks faster when compared with traditional construction methods”.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Showhome Magazine
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922