Can MMC finally move from innovative to mainstream?

In a recent Inside Housing article Richard Petty, head of UK Living with JLL and Charlotte D’Avola, partner at Penningtons Manches Cooper posed an interesting question: Can MMC finally move from innovative to mainstream?

It is a fair question to ask in 2022, particularly now that the benefits of offsite and other modern methods of construction have been well-established. MMC is a broad term used to describe several manufacturing and construction processes, including volumetric manufacturing and panellised systems. The project benefits of MMC delivery include – but are not limited to – speed, safety, reduced consumption and waste, reduced labour requirements, consistently high quality, improved energy efficiencies, greater certainty of costs and programme, and they are generally better for the environment.

So, why is MMC perceived as a risk by some? Similar to Ireland, so much of the progress around the use of modern methods of construction, or MMC, in the UK has been what Petty and D’Avola describe as “tentative”. Lack of clarity around funding and the acceptance of properties delivered through MMC as loan security has been a key concern. The authors recognise questions around fire safety and the long-term performance, including repairability, of buildings incorporating modern methods of construction arise “simply because we don’t yet have long-term data for recently introduced technology… But that doesn’t stop us adopting new technology in many other aspects of housing”. 

In terms of repairability unknowns:

  “…there is no reason why MMC homes should cost any more to repair and maintain in the long term, nor in terms of the replacement of major components, and therefore deductions from gross income to assess the net income to be valued should not penalise MMC properties….” 

Also, valuers such as JLL and Savills maintain that homes built using any form of MMC ought not be valued differently to those delivered through traditional construction. 

Accreditation

In the UK, the National House Building Council has now launched NHBC Accepts, an accreditation scheme considering the quality, performance and durability of MMC products under the NHBC’s Buildmark warranty. 

Critically, attitudes are evolving. We need more housing, and quicker. Also, Petty and D’Avola point out that investors and funders are actively looking to improve their ESG (environmental, social and governance) credentials and MMC is fast emerging as the route to deliver on these. 

The authors conclude that while some funders may need education and “convincing” about the viability of MMC, some important recent developments provide reason for optimism.

You can read this Inside Housing article in full here:  https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/comment/comment/can-mmc-finally-move-from-innovative-to-mainstream-75701 

About Horizon Offsite

Horizon Offsite Ltd is one of Europe’s leading players in Offsite Construction and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), providing a fully accredited structural light gauge steel system to the residential, industrial, commercial, healthcare and educational sectors. Contact the Horizon Offsite team at https://www.horizonoffsite.ie