MMC is on the up, say NHBC

Most housebuilders have used or have considered using modern methods of construction (MMC) in the past three years, research from the NHBC Foundation has recently revealed.

For the new report – Modern methods of construction: views from the industry –  NHBC surveyed 135 large and medium sized housebuilders and housing associations to gauge attitudes towards MMC, and the extent to which different methods and systems had been adopted.

The research showed that one of the main attractions of MMC “is the perceived ability to build more quickly and there is some evidence that MMC can lead to a reduction in costs,” NHBC said.

The most commonly used methods were components and sub-assemblies which around three quarters of the surveyed housebuilders and just under half of the housing associations installed in 2015. Panelised systems – such as timber and steel frame – were the second most popular.

Few of the companies quizzed had used full volumetric construction or pods, NHBC said. But many were contemplating using them in the future.

And the majority considered themselves to be “late adopters” or “followers” of volumetric construction, pod and panelised forms of MMC rather than “market leaders”. There was “lower enthusiasm” within much of the industry for more radical versions of MMC, but NHBC said that housebuilders had still been taking advantage of a range of innovative approaches.

Neil Smith, NHBC’s head of research and innovation, said:

“This report shows the high hopes invested in MMC, as a means of delivering transformational change to the housebuilding industry, have not yet been realised on the scale anticipated by its champions. It also illustrates that although cautious about over-commitment, the industry is nevertheless embracing MMC in many guises, and stands ready to explore new options and innovations.”