The Northstowe development in Cambridgeshire is one of the eight sites being studied

The Building Research Establishment, University College London, Atkins and Faithful & Gould will collect and monitor data from 1,800 homes on eight building sites over the next six years.

The study into so-called modern methods of construction (MMC) follows a year off work by consultants Atkins and Faithful & Gould (both part of the Canadian company SNC-Lavalin) to shape the data and collection methodology.

The work has been commissioned by Homes England, the government’s housing agency, has published a preliminary report outlining the terms of the study.

It acknowledges there is no meaningful definition of MMC and that the term is generally used collectively for a wide range of building systems, including modular, panellised and prefabricated frames, all of which are to be studied in the new research project.

Data will be collected across eight of Homes England’s sites that using non-traditional building systems to provide “long-term, in-depth and verifiable data so that informed decisions about emerging construction technologies can be made”.

The research will explore cost and pace of build, safety performance, snagging and defect issues, construction wastage, logistics and energy efficiency performance.

The government’s hope is that the research will confirm the received wisdom that these technologies are great and so more companies will rush to adopt them.

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: “Our support for modern methods of construction will play a vital role in this and this research will help us further understand these new construction technologies, which could be revolutionary for the industry in terms of improved productivity, build speed, and economies of scale.”

Homes England technical director Robert Stone said: “We are committed to providing the industry with the body of evidence it is asking for in order to drive a greater understanding of modern house building technologies and increase the uptake of modern methods of construction.

“Now more than ever, we recognise that more needs to be done to share learning and build confidence in MMC. This large-scale, long-term and in-depth project will provide the sector with the valuable evidence it needs to make informed decisions about MMC and deliver better homes faster.”

The sites and the proposed technologies currently involved in the study are listed below (though this is subject to change, Homes Engand says).

Site Location Size Primary technology
Northstowe Phase 2 Cambridge 406 homes Modular
East Quayside Newcastle 292 homes Light Gauge Steel Frame
Swindon Gateway Swindon 159 homes Modular
Spencers Park Hemel Hempstead 600 homes Panellised
Grappenhall Heys Phase 2 Warrington 220 homes Modular & Panellised
York Road Birmingham 80 homes Panellised
Tattenhoe Phase 4 Milton Keynes 100 homes Panellised
Park Prewett – Hollies Phase Basingstoke 30 homes Modular
 

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