Offsite construction and pre-manufacture: TRADA examines the offsite construction landscape and asks if the right drivers and economic conditions are in place for a step-change in its adoption’ in PBC Today, you can access the full article here: 

This feature provides a useful overview of the UK offsite and modular construction industry. It starts by explaining the key principles – or the Why –  of offsite for the uninitiated, these are, efficiency and consistently high quality.  

In its simplest form, offsite construction involves the manufacture and preassembly of components or modules in a facility – like the Horizon Offsite facility in Cahir, County Tipperary – prior to transport and successful installation on the site. According to the feature, “the construction value-added on site is less than 40% of the final construction value at completion”.

The above feature breaks this emerging sector into a number of specific categories comprising: modular or volumetric, hybrid and subassemblies/components (of which there are several subcategories). 

The consistency of quality, build efficiencies and programme certainty are achieved through the use of advanced manufacturing equipment, in a clean, controlled environment, unaffected by climatic conditions. All of these factors serve to increase productivity and improve the working conditions of people employed in the industry.

“Ideally, as many parts of the building will be finished to as high a level of completion as possible to minimise work on site.” 

The above feature also includes a useful list of other offsite terminologies with a brief explanation of each. 

Interestingly, the feature also explores the current UK context for offsite construction and asks some important questions, for example – Are the right drivers and economic conditions in place for a shift to offsite construction? 

According to the piece, construction is a $10 trillion market globally. The UK is ranked fifth out of the eight countries that make up the top 70 percent of that global market (based on 2015 figures, we do not have the Irish ranking).  Given that there are 1.5 million people on housing lists across the UK, there is significant pressure on the industry to deliver in the areas of housing, healthcare, education etc. 

Ireland is in a similar position, albeit on a different scale (it’s all relative), with a demonstrable lack of housing and an industry consistently failing to meet the target set under Rebuilding Ireland for both public and private housing. And to be clear, this is not a criticism of the industry; rather, it is a frustration at the lack of long-term, joined-up thinking of policy-makers. Housing has been allowed to remain something of a political football to be kicked around in recent years, with the government focus on ‘managing’ rather than ‘solving’ the problem.

The productivity losses for the Irish construction industry as a direct result of Covid-19, the period of shutdown and ongoing safety measures and supply chain issues are forecast to be between 35 and 40 percent. Frankly, the only way many build programmes will be able to remain even slightly on track and viable will be to explore offsite and other modern methods of construction. In that way, the pandemic will likely accelerate the trend towards digitalisation of the traditional construction industry and this has to be seen as a good thing. 

While the above-mentioned feature is obviously focused on the UK market, there is much for Ireland-based developers, contractors and policy-makers to learn from the insights shared. 

Above: Horizon Offsite MD, Ger Fahey, speaking about the importance of collaboration across the offsite construction sector in Ireland and the UK.

About Horizon Offsite

Horizon Offsite Ltd is one of Europe’s leading players in Offsite Construction (MMC/Modern Methods of Construction) providing a full accredited structural light gauge steel system to the domestic, Industrial, Commercial, Health and Educational market.