RICS supports the recommendations in the Modern Methods of Construction report released by the Commons HCLG Committee, with many of them reflecting those published by RICS in our Policy Position Paper detailed below.
Ultimately, greater use and roll out of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) will make a significant contribution to much needed housing starts and completions across all tenures, providing additional approaches and avenues to build the homes we need. It should complement, and be in addition to, more traditional methods, thereby expanding the number of participants and development options.
We are exceptionally glad to see the recommendations and focus on the need for a full review of building regulations, including the need to address concerns around MMC, and the recognition of MMC as potentially a significant supplier to the social housing sector in particular.
RICS would also welcome the adoption of a database of new build processes and materials to ensure a property, its condition and its elements can be tracked throughout its life from new. This would help the public when purchasing homes and RICS is currently developing a Home Survey Standard which supports the creation of property log book.
We encourage the government to implement the recommendations in this report to help stimulate the construction industry, increase housing affordability, and meet housing demand, especially in the social housing tenure.
Our policy position
The UK construction sector is a strategically significant part of the UK economy. Representing around 6% of GDP and 10% of employment, every year an estimated £150bn is invested through the public and private sectors. It is not only important in terms of its contribution to the economy, it is also an enabler of wider economic growth and development, providing the homes, infrastructure and environment that allows the nation to function and prosper.
The sector has been struggling to meet growing demand for its services in residential, with the Government’s target of 300,000 new homes per year unlikely to be met. Supply and demand imbalances contribute to unaffordability and in extremis, homelessness.
Market-led solutions alone have not met the needs of large segments of the population, as housing affordability has moved beyond the reach of many. The construction sector for residential is part of the challenge. It is characterised by low productivity, variable quality, output lagging behind target, and slim margins for builders. This is partly due to the cyclical nature of the residential sales led trader model, creating unstable foundations for the construction sector to operate and invest in.
Offsite manufacture and Modern Methods of Construction represents an opportunity to address many of these issues in addition to increasing capacity and investment in the industry. Its properties and characteristics can supplement our existing capacities, supporting alternative models for delivery and allowing for more options to be considered when tackling the complicated process of housebuilding. While MMC is not a panacea that will resolve all the problems in the sector, once fully embedded, will go some way to improving our capacity to meet need.
Government must support MMC both, directly through investment and indirectly through planning, education and construction and design quality standards and programmes, including encouraging and incentivising construction of MMC factories in areas of high unemployment as part of the Industrial Strategy.
RICS research paper, ‘Forward Thinking Solution to the Housing Crisis’ looks at several different technologies as constructed on site. The locations and design standards of the projects were impressive with the mortgage-ability demonstrated by sale into the owner-occupied market