Why Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) could shift thinking in the home-build sector
Most new houses today are constructed through traditional building techniques. While bricks and mortar continue to stand up to the test of time, there’s long been an unspoken acceptance of the potential limitations of this method of construction. We know, for example, that
- the house may shrink due to the drying out process, potentially causing cracking in the plaster and paint work;
- there is the risk of mould if the consequential air is not allowed to escape, and
- the prevailing material used to create the structure – bricks and mortar – has minimal insulation qualities, requiring homebuilders to develop energy efficiencies elsewhere
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) have the capacity to tackle these concerns by taking a manufacturing approach to the build. As is fairly typical with MMC, housing components such as walls are constructed in a factory where environmentally controlled conditions can benefit quality and consistency. A wall component might include several built-in elements, such as:
- Structure and high levels of integrated insulation
- Wiring conduits
- Internal plasterboarding and exterior cladding
- Integrated, energy-efficient windows and doors
Opportunities to improve the build process
Another area where MMC has huge potential to improve on traditional build methods is in the build process itself. Block and brick assembly on site is tried and trusted, yet we know that the length of the build process can lead to challenges such as increased on site costs, exposure to poor weather, greater risk of health and safety-related issues, and potential quality issues arising from independent activities and parties working on the development.
One of the accepted major benefits of MMC is control of the process. Thanks to the speed of build, MMC elements can be easily protected from the weather during installation and a house can be brought to a water-tight status typically within five days.
Parallels from other industries and other countries can be very useful in recognising what can be achieved when organisations have higher standards and goals intrinsically embedded within their culture and aspirations.
It’s time to raise expectations
By adopting MMC build methods, the UK construction industry and homeowners should now be expecting:
- No increase in cost compared with traditional methods
- Energy efficiency at or approaching Passive House standards
- Rapid construction – days not weeks or months
- Industrial levels of control on quality and health and safety
- Flexible designs
- Low energy homes for all
It’s now up to the UK building community to require such standards and accept nothing less.
About the Author
Anthony Greer has a PhD from the University of Cambridge and approaching 20 years’ global experience in various industries including corporate leadership within oil and gas. Anthony and the Talo Element team are passionate about playing a material part in the raising of standards within the UK housing industry and the transition to modern methods of construction. Its entire process is ISO certified, from the tree seedling for the timber to the onsite installation, with full system approval from LABC Warranty.
Learn more about MMC warranty requirements
Looking to use MMC in your developments? Our Technical Manual contains useful information on MMC builds and requirements needed for a structural warranty.
Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.