The pro - COVID period
At the beginning of 2020 nobody could have imagined the ensuing chaos caused by Covid-19. In the UK, the initial lockdown meant the closure of all non-essential construction works. Sites up and down the country downed tools, staff were furloughed. People were scratching their heads as to the next steps in working within the ever-changing Government guidelines. While most construction was halted, it was not plain sailing for those firms left working on critical sites. The disruption caused to the supply chain meant material shortages. It was difficult to appoint support services as many subcontractors closed their doors to protect staff.
The shift in the construction industry
Has Covid-19 taught us anything? What have we learnt about how we chose to build and how we could meet future demand in the wake of delays to build schedules and material shortages?
In the UK the construction method of choice is the traditional brick by brick. It is the way the industry has worked for centuries. If time is not an issue and support services are available then it works fine. But when time is of the essence then traditional methods are found wanting. The current crisis highlighted the impact of being on site for any length of time. The scarcity of materials and support services also adversely impacted the build time. Sites ground to a halt or were way behind schedule. So what you ask. Well it matters. These delays impact the completion time and the price of the build. It impacts on cashflow, it bites hard into the supply chain. Construction company leaders, developers and designers should be thinking about how they can adapt. Is modular construction the solution?
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The modular method
The modular method allows construction time to be significantly reduced as the nearly complete base units are constructed off site in manufacturing facilities that have controlled environments. This means that the weather does not affect the progress of the base unit construction. An interesting point to note is that these manufacturing sites managed to stay operational even throughout the worse of the crisis. As a result, modular systems were used to deliver the new Nightingale Hospitals and ward extensions. The end result you will have seen on the TV, a resounding success.
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In light of the benefits of modular and the uncertainty of when coronavirus will end, we think that the demand for modular builds will increase. Modular, with its ability to deliver a rapid build, to very high specification, with a 60-year life is gaining traction rapidly. It minimises the disruption risk and ensures that build costs are reduced.