Time to switch to off-site construction?

Time to switch to off-site construction?

Chris Holleron, Group Product Manager – Housing, at Hadley Group, explores the rise of off-site construction within the housing sector and the role that light-gauge steel frames can play.

Off-site and modular construction have long been viewed as an integral part of construction’s future and a potential solution to the UK’s housing crisis, with increased calls for the industry to change its approach. The Farmer Review: ‘Modernise or Die’ is but one example. In it, Mark Farmer recommended the Government should promote the use of pre-manufactured solutions, especially within the housing sector. Considering the current UK climate, where high-quality, affordable housing is so desperately required, it is more important than ever that housebuilders heed the recommendations and look to employ more modern construction methods.

Off-site construction carries with it many benefits. For example, it can save valuable time on site, with large portions of the structure pre-assembled in a controlled factory environment and less likelihood of delays caused by poor weather conditions. In fact, it is said that projects which implement off-site construction can be completed between 30% and 50% faster than traditional methods. This is especially pertinent for the housing sector, where criticism is commonly placed on the poor delivery figures and ever-increasing demand.

It is clear, therefore, that off-site construction should play a fundamental role in the future of the housing sector, providing housebuilders with the ability to build high-quality homes both quickly and efficiently. However, a successful off-site project relies on many factors – including the individual building components.

Steel frame
Light-gauge steel frames are a fundamental aspect of off-site construction, capable of being used on a wide-range of building types, including housing. The steel building envelope components can be fabricated to specific project requirements and pre-assembled in a controlled factory environment, where the appropriate quality checks are carried out, before then being delivered to site as and when required.

Hadley Steel Framing is one such manufacturer that offers a fabrication service, with its dedicated project design team able to provide housebuilders with design and technical support. Hadley supplies structural external and internal wall panels, all constructed from lightweight cold-rolled steel sections for high strength and low weight, providing housebuilders with an easier to erect alternative to steel or concrete primary frames. These panels are first assembled and bolted together off-site, before being delivered to site, lifted and simply fixed in place.

With the demand for new, high-quality, affordable housing in the UK at an all-time high, it is easy to see why there has been a visible rise in off-site construction within the housing sector. Such methods can allow housebuilders to produce the homes that the country so desperately needs, with integrated quality checks and at a far faster rate than the more traditional building methods allow, saving both valuable time and labour costs.

Housebuilders can further improve the efficiency of the build rate by using building materials, such as light-gauge steel frames, and liaising with reputable manufacturers who can provide a pre-fabrication service and technical support.

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