The Building Society Association have released an interesting report entitled “Laying the  Foundations for MMC”  – I attach a link to that document below. This is a very thorough analysis of both the need for, and the challenges facing, implementation of widespread modern methods of construction (including modular, offsite assembly, system building and other generally non-traditional forms of construction) in order to bridge the enormous gap between our present levels of housing delivery (roughly 120,000 new homes a year) and our need (250,000++).

There are some interesting comparisons with more established markets where this form of construction delivers a very significant amount of housing, in particular Japan and Germany, although the report notes that the German take-up of this form of construction, exemplified by the famous Huf-Haus was not without its own problems in that market.  There are lessons to be learned from the German experience in terms of the need for agreed quality and design standards across a very diverse and innovative sector.

The report concludes with ten recommendations but those that to my mind that are the core issues that will require resolution before this market can properly develop in the way that we all hope include:

The need for a more developed and standardised  RICS  approach to valuation of these properties;

  • The standardisation of construction information and quality standards and the widespread ease of access to, and availability of, that information for lenders, valuers, developers and buyers;
  • As the market matures, the sharing of information around durability of the various forms of MMC product (which at the moment, because this market is fledgling, is unknown and therefore problematic); and
  • With that wider acceptance amongst the home insurance market for this type of product.

It is evident from this report that there is a great deal of thought being given by many key stakeholders into how MMC can provide at least part of the answer to our housing needs.  However, it is also concerning to see that this fast developing sector is somewhat fragmented and even the best efforts of organisations such as the BSA, CML and the RICS with initiatives such as the Build Offsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) is not yet enjoying the widespread recognition and take-up that will be needed for this part of the sector to flourish.