Modern Methods of Construction Work

MMC - Our new factor in Cornwall on the cusp of a revolution

Modern methods of construction (MMC) offer the opportunity to rethink how we conceptualise, design and build much-needed housing, the industry promises up to 265,000 additional homes in the next ten years if a third of new homes used MMC. They can speed up the process, make challenging sites viable, and provide varied and adaptable homes that respond to local character and needs.

Over the past decade, modular construction has grown substantially. A recent report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has estimated the total value of the offsite construction industry at £1.5 billion, with the potential to grow to £6 billion.

Attitudinal changes towards offsite building techniques, as well as their increased sustainability and capabilities as seen on many high-profile jobs, have all contributed to this growth.

Why MMC?
  • Modular buildings are manufactured in controlled environments.
  • It is widely recognised that modular has the potential to reduce overall construction programmes and the impact on rural communities.
  • In most cases, while onsite ground works are being completed, building modules are being manufactured in a controlled, factory environment. This means a large portion of works are completed simultaneously, reducing the building programme from the outset.
  • Once modules are delivered to site – pre-fitted with electrics, plumbing, heating, doors, windows and internal finishes – they are carefully craned into position on prepared foundations.
  • Offsite construction is up to 50% quicker than traditional – buildings can be created onsite in timeframes as short as just four weeks.

Modular buildings are often recyclable

Offsite construction can reduce up to 90% of waste generated when compared with traditional construction methods. Some modular buildings are now manufactured using recyclable material from other projects.

Being adaptable and flexible to changing needs, modular buildings are easy to move without disturbing surrounding landscapes.

Offsite construction uses less energy

Compared to an equivalent, traditionally-built project, up to 67% less energy is required to produce a modular building.

Not only is the actual construction of the building ‘greener’, but the building is also energy- efficient for life. Modular buildings are now being installed with energy-efficient systems such as energy-efficient glass, geothermal systems and solar panels.

Offsite construction also impacts on the carbon footprint of a building, as it allows for a reduction of the total number of deliveries to sites by 90%.

Modular can be built to the exact same standards as traditional

The key benefit of modular construction is the essential quality benefits which come with working in a controlled factory environment. Buildings are designed and built to the same, higher sustainability standards as traditional construction such as BREEAM, PassivHaus and AECB.

Unlike traditional construction, there are many cost savings associated with modular buildings, stemming from a reduction in project timeframes and leading to reductions in overall costs.

Although changing views of offsite construction methods are continuing to increase its popularity, traditional methods still account for the largest market share in the building industry. As the construction sector develops and adapts to meet changing Government strategies, MMC will be increasingly employed by A different Approach alongside our supply chain partners Carbon neutral homes and Coppercoast.

Efficiency and qualitycontrol benefits

With modular construction, the bulk of fabrication and assembly of building components takes place in a controlled setting optimised for manufacturing, and the processes of design, manufacturing, and construction are more tightly integrated, capturing efficiencies not achievable through conventional methods, and allowing for more effective quality assurance.

Reduction in material waste

Modular construction could cut net waste in half compared to conventional construction. The optimised conditions of the fabrication facility result in a reduction in the incidence of errors, and accidental damage. Factory based modular construction processes are also better able to implement lean production principles and other strategies to better control inventory.

Reduction in life-cycle embodied energy and carbon

Although the total amount of materials used for a modular project will be greater than for an equivalent, conventionally constructed project (as each module requires a substantial, independent structural frame), from a life-cycle perspective, the amount of material waste saved by the modular construction process more than offsets the increased structural material used. The robust structure of modular buildings supports a longer life cycle, so the energy and carbon cost of its construction can be amortised over a longer period of time.

Reduction in energy use for construction

Construction energy use can be reduced during the fabrication phase of a modular project because factories are better able to control energy use and emissions than conventional construction sites. Modular projects require fewer workers onsite, for a much shorter period of time, so onsite energy use for such things as transport and accommodation of workers, as well as for power tools, plant, and site wide lighting will be much reduced.

Reduction in transportation·related impacts

Modular construction can reduce transport emissions and other transportation related impacts - like noise and air by pollution at the project site. Modular construction can reduce the total number of deliveries to sites by 90%, and decreased the overage travel distance of workers to the site by 75%.

Reduction in operational impact

Factory based production of building components allows for much tighter tolerance of joints and seams, and supports improvements in the precision and quality of the application of the air barrier, the sealing of penetrations and joints, the installation of thermal insulation, the minimisation of thermal bridging, and allows for a greater degree of testing, commissioning, and verification. This all contributes to increased and more reliable thermal performance, and potentially reducing operational costs by 15% to 20%.

Support of adaptation, reuse, and recycling

Modular construction allows for a kind of ‘plug and play’ flexibility that allows buildings to be easily and more affordable adapted, modified, or disassembled into components that can be reused or deconstructed for recycling. Modularity at the systems level can contribute towards making a building more flexible and adoptable, and therefore more future-proof.

Support of resilience

Modular buildings can be constructed to be as wind and earthquake resistant as conventionally constructed buildings, and the mass-customisation aspect of the modular approach provides the flexibility to make it easier and less expensive to integrate additional resilient and adaptable design features.

Reduction of indoor environmental quality issues

The factory-based production of modular building components allow for a longer period of off-gassing of VOCs from adhesives, sealants, and finishes before occupancy. The potential for high levels of moisture to collect in materials is much less likely when the building’s components are produced in a factory.