Offsite construction is key to affordable housing shortage, says Stewart Milne Timber Systems

Published:  09 July, 2014

According to a government report, offsite construction and other forms of ‘construction innovation’ are key to adding value for providers through increasing speed of build and reducing waste and cost.

The government’s Affordable Homes Programme 2015-2018 encourages increased partnership working between local authorities, housing associations and private contractors to provide more affordable housing and maximise cost efficiencies in the construction of new homes.

According to Alex Goodfellow, group managing director at Stewart Milne Timber Systems, housing associations and local authorities could build new affordable housing faster by prioritising offsite construction.

Mr Goodfellow said: "Getting quality, affordable new homes out of the ground more quickly is a key priority for government and in particular the social housing sector, and that can be a difficult balance to strike.

"Items such as timber systems and bathroom pods can be manufactured offsite – which means more efficient builds with lower ongoing costs. This would allow affordable housing providers to develop future-proof, sustainable housing stock quickly and cost effectively.

“Homes which are intrinsically energy efficient – because they’ve been built with efficiency in mind – result in fewer repair bills and lower energy costs. Offsite construction also means the build process is a great deal quicker, so getting tenants in and rent payments established happens faster.

“Energy efficient homes are also unlikely to need expensive retrofits or alterations as they age, which is a significant benefit for affordable housing providers.”

The UK is currently facing a significant shortfall in housing supply, with research from Savills recently suggesting that 160,000 new homes are needed in the south of England alone, in the next five years.

Charity and industry bodies are calling for the government to increase house building substantially to address this.

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