Why off-site construction holds key to quality

An influential roundtable discussing how off-site manufacturing can improve build standards has called for industry and government collaboration to agree tougher building regulations for off-site construction to differentiate it from traditional build methods.

The idea was one of five recommendations to come from the event, held at the House of Commons and organised by the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum with support from the British Board of Agrément (BBA).

Speaking at the roundtable, BBA Technical Excellence Director Paul Valentine said off-site construction represented an ‘important opportunity’ to drive up standards, improve the sustainability of buildings and make it easier to meet quality assurance standards. The BBA now intends to consider how its certification process can work with the Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) framework to better designate systems.

The meeting debated how off-site construction requires early engagement across the build board, but current procurement practices inhibit engagement with the supply chain and fabricators at critical early stages. Procuring for value rather than lowest cost, particularly on public projects, would allow for the whole life cost and durability of an asset to be considered, rather than just the initial capital cost, leading to higher quality and lower running costs.

Roundtable recommendations also included:

  • Government should support providers of MMC through investment in early product innovation and development.
  • Government and industry should collaborate on harmonising current digital models and formats of buildings, so they are fundamentally interchangeable, or by creating non-proprietary central digital building model.
  • Government and industry should collaborate on driving better performance labelling of housing, including components like light, space, ventilation and energy performance, empowering consumers to ask more of house-builders and drive building performance.

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