Driven by demographic trends and a projected increase in single occupancy, estimates are that the UK will require about three million new homes by the year 2020. Yet in 2001 construction of new houses in the UK fell to its lowest level since the Second World War. The Barker Review of Housing Supply has suggested that to bring house price inflation down to the European average (1.1%) an additional 120,000 private house will have to be built every year. The Review also suggests that social and affordable housing needs to be increased by 17,000 units a year. The housing shortfall – and how to resolve it – has been the subject of much debate, which has led the government to promote Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) as a means of both improving build quality and reducing build costs.
What are Modern Methods of Construction?
The term Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is used to describe specific, identifiable ‘products’ developed to manufacture homes, both off-site in specifically designed factories and on-site with innovative methods, which offer potential benefits such as faster construction, fewer defects and reductions in energy use and wastage. Although primarily building systems, MMC also include the back-up and support systems to make them work, such as training and technical assistance throughout the planning and construction process.
H+H Celcon and MMC
Celcon’s systems reflect the enhanced building efficiencies required in Scandinavian countries pioneered by Celcon’s sister companies. With a shorter building season due to longer and harder winters, their techniques have to be both robust and quick to construct.
Classified as MMC by The Housing Corporation, the social housing regulator for England and Wales, Celcon solution speed the build process and result in a better insulated, more environmentally friendly home.
- Celcon’s Thin-Joint System is a Non- OSM MMC, a traditional form of construction that has been adapted using an innovative method to enhance the build process.
- Celcon’s Jämerä Concept (available Summer 2005) will be a OSM MMC – Sub-Assemblies and Components, which involves some off-site manufacture, details of both systems follow.
Quality and Accreditation
Major investment in research and development in the UK has been essential in bringing these building systems to the UK market. Although proven within Scandinavian countries the products have had to be tested and certified in the UK. Both systems have gained approval from the British Board of Agrément (BBA). The National House Builders Council (NHBC) also recognises them as accepted forms of construction for their insurance schemes.
Celcon’s MMC products are manufactured to the most exacting standards at the company’s newest plant at Pollington in Yorkshire and distributed nationwide.
Training of operatives is also key to ensuring the build goes to plan. Celcon offers both on-site, and other training options for their building systems. Training for Thin-Joint Systems has been added as a module to the Bricklaying NVQ and demonstrations are also given on sites and at builders’ merchants’ yards.
The Housing Corporation and MMC
For 2004-2006 the Housing Corporation set a target of a quarter of the new housing it funds (circa 5,000 homes per year or 3% of new UK construction) to be built using MMC.
The Housing Corporation’s Objectives for MMC are:
Better Quality – meets or improves on the Building Regulation requirements with a reduction in the number of defects
Safer – with more construction taking place in a controlled environment and less time on site
Environmentally Friendly – reduced transportation and wastage levels, an improvement in the efficiency of the homes combined with less impact on the local residents during construction.
Economic – fewer defects and a quicker build time resulting in a reduction in cost.
The Housing Corporation has Divided MMC into Five Categories:
- Off-site manufactured (OSM) –Volumetric
- OSM – Panellised
- OSM – Hybrid
- OSM – Sub-Assemblies and Components
- Non-off-site manufactured (Non-OSM) Modern Methods of Construction