Introduction The term MMCis one that has, for more than half a century, caused debate and conflictedopinions amongst those involved within the building industry (NHBC Foundation,2016). In the aftermath of World War Two, there was a need for the rapidrenovation and restoration of the UK’s major cities. The industry looked toinnovative new ideas to help with the demand for housing. However, these newsystems and technologies were based around the idea of quantity and not qualitywhich led to high profile failures and a distrust from the British public inMMC.
With theChancellor’s recent plans to build 300,000 new homes a year by the middle ofthe next decade, there is an ever-growing pressure on private developers andlocal authorities to increase their output of house building. As of 2015,private developers built over 77% of newly constructed houses in the UK, apercentage that is set to increase (The Building Societies Association, 2016).The last time private developers in the UK built more than 200,000 homes was in1968. It is vital that the industry starts to understand the increasinglydiverse requirements of the UK housing market if it is to meet these dauntingfigures set by the Chancellor. Large developers have already expressed theirconcerns that they do not have the capacity to meet such a large increase involume, which leaves an unrealistic gap to be bridged by smaller developers andself-employed builders (The Building Societies Association, 2016).
However, therecould be a solution that is already waiting to be correctly utilised, MMC.Since the turn of the Millenia there has been a shift in opinion from that ofthe 1960s and 1970s. One of the key turning points was a paper written in byEgan in 1998. Egan (1998) outlined the potential benefits of MMC and thebarriers that were affecting their implementation.
He expressed that the mainconcerns for clients were inefficiency, waste, lack of training and low levelsof client satisfaction. Egan suggested that addressing these concerns wouldhave a dramatic effect on the housing market and set out clear potentialadvantages for MMC and their path to market. It should benoted that there has been an effort from various parts of the UK constructionindustry to push MMC to market, including the National Audit Office’s 2005 report ‘Using Modern Methods ofConstruction to Build Homes More Quickly and Efficiently’. The report was commissioned by the Office of theDeputy Prime Minister and the Housing Corporation, suggesting a keen shifttowards MMC from the government. It outlined the best ways to maximise thepotential of MMC, and defined MMC as ‘a process to produce more, better qualityhomes in less time’ (Allison, Fawcett 2005). The report also stated that avolumetric approach to MMC can reduce the average time spent on site on a3-bedroom house from 39 weeks, to just 16 weeks.
The NAO report also stated thefollowing…· It should be possible to build up to four times asmany homes with the same on-site labour. · On-site construction time could be reduced by morethan half. · Building performance could be at least as good asTBM · Cost rangeswould be comparable depending on specific project circumstances, although theywould be higher on average. · Riskswould be increased at the early stages of the development process, sogood risk management would become even moreimportant. · Tight liaison with planning authorities would be vital. · Benefits would be wasted if projects were notproperly planned.
Despite allof the potential benefits, the initial uptake on MMC was low. A 2006 report byBarker 33 Cross-Industry Group suggested the slow uptake was down to the needfor a complete change of approach from housebuilders. Naturally developers werereluctant to adopt these new methods, as in their opinion, things were fine asthey were.
But withthe need for so many new houses and the wealth of evidence suggesting MMC canrealistically replace a large proportion of traditional methods ofconstruction; is the UK fully utilising MMC? If it is not, then which areasneed improving, which areas are utilising it fully and where does the futurelead for MMC? (Figure 1) –Adapted from The Building Societies Association (2016). Dissertation Aims The aims ofthis dissertation are to:Firstly,establish what, if any, barriers are stopping the implementation of MMC intothe UK building industry. Secondly, areMMC being pushed as a replacement for traditional building methods, or is theindustry happy with the current climate? Thirdly, explorewhether there are restrictions on MMC being correctly utilised from within theconstruction industry, reflect on differing opinions major developers, anddetermine what affect this will have on MMC and whether it could truly replaceTBM in the future.
Finally,analyse current and historical literature and reports from the last 15 years tosee whether government and privately funded construction expert’s statisticsand projections for potential benefits of MMC have been realised. Dissertation Objectives In order toanswer my central research question, I have identified some key objectives thatwill have to be met… · Establish whether there has been anincrease in use of MMC since the last major report by the Government · Identify areas within the constructionindustry where MMC are making a notable difference in construction, forinstance efficiency and waste · Find out whether there are any areaswithin construction that are already utilising MMC efficiently and whatpotential this has for a larger scale of operation · Establish whether MMC can have apositive impact on the housing market and bridge the gap of new houses thatneed to be built · Explore the effects of MMC onsustainability and the potential benefits they may bringResearch Methodology Thisdissertation will be based around analysing existing literature. As mentioned,MMC is not a new concept, so there is a wealth of literature already out thereto compare and contrast. In addition to existing literature, up to date reportsput forward by private companies and government led schemes will also serve asa backbone to this dissertation as these reports are often more up to date.
Defining MMC It is widelyaccepted that there is no strict definition of MMC. The NHBC Foundation (2006)states that MMC is a collective term used to describe a number of constructionmethods which differ significantly from so-called conventional methods such asbrick and block. The Building Societies Association (2016) agree with thatdefinition and reference that within the industry MMC is referred to as beingabout better products and processes, which aim to improve business efficiency,quality, customer satisfaction, environmental performance and thepredictability of timescales. RICS (2017) says that MMC once had a veryspecific meaning within the social housing sector when the government wasattempting to increase the take-up of non-conventional forms during the earlyyears of this century. It has since been adopted as a convenient if misleadingshorthand for all forms of non-conventional construction.
A loose definition of MMC is not overly helpful in regards to lending andassessing risk. It is extremely difficult to approach a lender and ask them toloan money to finance a project made primarily through MMC, when the term I notfully defined and encompasses many technologies, techniques and materials(Building Societies Association, 2016). To complicate matters even further,other terms are frequently used to describe MMC such as Innovativeconstruction, offsite assembly, smart construction, pre-fabrication and modularconstruction to name a few. In addition to this vague definition, Oliveira (2017)says that business models for MMC delivery are largely ill considered in the UKand traditional procurement routes are reported not to be sufficiently well setup to deliver MMC in housing yet. It is however,