A Modular Approach to Meeting Future Housing Needs

Modular building is assisting builders and developers to satisfy the higher degrees of this Code for Sustainable Homes, whilst achieving performance, cost and schedule demands.

The residential home industry is embracing offsite construction for a way of achieving the ever more stringent building regulations, combined with a need to decrease unit costs and meet tighter construct schedules. Innovation in the industry means that now’s modular structures can be as unique and individual as are houses built with conventional building methods. The increasingly strict performance requirements of this Code for Sustainable Homes also means that many within the new build sector are seeing offsite as a process of guaranteeing they are able to satisfy these improved performance levels. Architects and offsite companies are working together more closely than ever before to tackle the way future housing requirements can be met.

House builders are under increasing pressure to deliver homes which incorporate sustainable building methods. The new generation of ‘Hybrid’ offsite buildings means also allow for green technology to be incorporated, for instance, rainwater harvesting, solar photovoltaics or even a green roof, in addition to mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) systems, all which greatly improve the sustainability of a building.

With a modular structure, panels are prefabricated within a factory quality controlled environment, meaning that performance levels are assured. It also guarantees that maintenance costs are lower over the duration of the construction, because of the construction being made to satisfy stringent construction standards. Visit Reid’s Heritage Homes here.

For all these reasons, offsite construction is supplying a solution, which enables shorter build times, fewer stoppages due to adverse weather, less waste and a lower environmental impact. The modular building also has the advantages of maximizing transport, which means fewer deliveries to the website, therefore improving a building’s green credentials and additionally providing less disruption to occupants.

In addition to meeting exceptional performance demands, the latest offsite solutions also allow for more design flexibility. This may include the integration of non-rectangular modules along with the introduction of corner-to-corner glazed walls, which add to the diversity and interest on progress with multiple units. This layout flexibility is helping alter the perception of off-site construction held by a lot of people who incorrectly see it as being rather formulaic.

In actual fact, building offsite can allow for greater flexibility than with conventional builds as well as the programmer can benefit from a much lower carbon footprint. Many housing associations are looking to specify low embodied carbon building products for new houses that contain a high degree of recycled substances and these can easily be specified within an offsite build.

Modular building is now currently being adopted for building whole apartment blocks, as single living accommodation units could be made quickly and effectively and piled, with all the performance and aesthetic benefits.

Another factor that’s attractive to the housing sector is the standardization and economies of scale offered by modular construction methods. By way of example, the Hybrid concept was recently built to make numerous Code 4 bungalows. Because of a large number of comparable units created as part of the project, the customer was able to gain from new houses delivered within a less expensive budget, which makes this an attractive choice. And this notion could be applied to five-story buildings as a single story apartment, demonstrating the flexibility of the machine. It might also be adapted to match Code Levels 5 and 6, as an effective way of creating the most sustainable buildings. As over 85 percent of a construction can be constructed from the factory, this minimizes the amount of time spent on the website.

With a modular structure, even the roof is completed offsite, so the entire building could be watertight within only 1 day. The final result is a building that meets the performance demands of the greater Code amounts, backed up with of the benefits of offsite construction.

Designs for these modular buildings are based on meeting and exceeding current requirements, including the brand new space standards according to the Mayor of London and HCA (Homes and Communities Agency), as well as the Code for Sustainable Homes level 4 or above, Lifetime Homes, Building for Life and Housing Quality Indicators (HQIs).

Where modular building can enable the housing industry to make huge gains is when it comes to replication of units to a common layout, using standard components. Units can be made for a range of sizes from micro-flats and 1-4 bedroom units, which are ideal for first-time buyers, in addition to students and the older. Larger units are capable of being configured as two-story maisonettes, or side by side on a single floor. The chances are huge – ranging from little 10-15 unit improvements configured as apartment blocks or terraces, through to 50+ unit strategies, which combine houses and apartments, through to larger 100+ unit regeneration projects. All of these can be given to meet an assortment of configurations to match their preferences and neighborhood atmosphere.

Exciting work is being performed in the housing industry where architects are working closely with offsite businesses to integrate the latest technology to ensure the nation’s future houses can be sent to fulfill performance and sustainability needs, whilst still delivered between tight budgetary parameters. This approach looks set to grow as the industry recognizes how it is an effective way to satisfy the UK’s future housing requirements.