This combination of requirements plays to the strengths of timber frame and structural insulated panels (SIPS), which deliver the sustainable solution. The industry has invested heavily in getting fabric solutions that deliver high performance without the future maintenance costs that non-fabric solutions entail. Offsite construction technology delivers a predictable performance level, with fewer construction defects or wasted materials. We are able to provide a marked decrease in the build time with a marked increase in the standard of build. This combination of requirements plays to the strengths of timber technology which offers a low-energy design as standard.
The construction of a house maximising offsite technology typically takes four to six weeks, which is nearly a quarter of the time taken by traditional methods with an average timescale of around twenty weeks, providing weather conditions permit. Offsite methods reduce the potential impact of bad weather on build-times and swift weather-proofing of the structures diminishes delays for follow on trades.
It is not just the housing sector that is looking to exploit the benefits of offsite construction to meet current demands. The education sector is also facing a shortage of almost 900,000 school places and the government has pledged an investment of circa £2 billion to refurbish and rebuild 277 schools. The speed and ease that offsite construction provides is crucial to fitting in with the timeline demands that are unique to schools and the academic year. That is why offsite is becoming the choice method of building in the education sector, matching similar requirements to the housing industry.
The market is definitely showing higher levels of optimism amongst the timber offsite solution suppliers, with more positive signs of investment and an increase in activity levels. The transition to a low-carbon economy presents our industry with great opportunities for growth. Environmental considerations will transform how our buildings are constructed, what materials are used and the methods employed. I believe that we are now on the cusp of the predicted ‘sea-change’ and that the time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative timber technology and offsite techniques to develop better buildings at a rapid rate to enhance lives, minimise the environmental impact and reduce energy costs for occupants for many years to come.