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54

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concrete

OFF-SITE CONSTRUCTION

Publicmoney

The HCA has been reported as stating

that public money will be used to fund land

and factory construction for off-site and

modern methods of construction, in line

with the tenor of theWhite Paper analysis

and proposals. This, however, leads to a real

concern that Government policy is now

incentivising certain construction methods

and materials at taxpayers’expense,most of

which are likely to lead to increased imported

materials.

The current proposals to favour off-site

and modern methods of construction, fail to

recognise the long-term benefits of masonry

and potentially give rise to the dangers of

focusing on numbers and speed in place of

long-term quality, durability, long life and

whole-life carbon reduction.

Support for increased off-site construction

– and even the expenditure of public funds to

provide land and factories that may stimulate

greater use of imported materials rather

than indigenous materials – needs to be

questioned, particularly when local product

and labour is available, which avoids the need

to wait for new factories to be built and for

factory workers’skills to be developed before

production can commence.

Concentration

The Government’s concentration on new and

modern methods of construction to meet the

immediate requirement and challenge of one

million new homes within the term of this

Parliament ignores the sector that currently

already contributes over 80% of current

output and which has existing capacity for

expansion.

Both the Home Builders Federation and

the Federation of Master Builders see no

reason to change their support and use of

masonry construction that overwhelmingly is

the solution of choice.

The materials used for traditional

construction are locally and responsibly

sourced, plentiful in supply, low-cost, low-

carbon and long whole-life solution providers

for housing.

The forms of construction currently used

meet the highest ‘fabric first’standards for

energy conservation. In addition, the benefits

of thermal mass and other properties provide

protection and resilience to climate change

threats such as flooding, overheating and

extreme weather events.

One benchmark for quality should surely

be that homeowners and occupiers of the

future can be assured that their homes

provide high-quality, healthy, comfortable

and affordable accommodation in a quality

environment capable of adaptation.

The increase of blockwork manufacturing

is already in hand through investment in

new production lines and additional working

shifts and further measures to improve and

increase skilled trades/training are in place.

This will be aided further by the proposed

measures to encourage small and medium-

sized contractors back into house building,

where the size of projects undertaken is most

likely to favour flexible off-the-shelf masonry

solutions.

Off-site construction has hitherto been

limited in its application, needing high

throughputs and significant repetition

to be cost effective. It also requires long-

term certainty to attract investors for the

appropriate investment in time, essential

research, production facilities and trained

operatives.While it may have a role to play,

masonry was and will always remain the

main solution and is not the problem, being a

proven product that is available now.

Newcontributors to themagazine are always

welcome.Articles, case studies, papers and

comments for submission can be sent to the Editor.

There is NO charge for article contributions; material is published

onmerit.

Contact: James Luckey, Editor, Tel: 01276 607158

E-mail:

editorial@concrete.org.uk

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