Cross-laminated timber – a forward thinking solution to the housing crisis?
Cross laminated timber (CLT) is a structural, prefabricated panel used to form environmentally sustainable walls, roofs, and floors across a wide range of structures. The gluing of both longitudinal and transverse layers, which reduces the movement of the wood and allows it to span in two directions like concrete, means that CLT more than meets the standards required by modern building standards. There are numerous examples of CLT in everything from high rise buildings and large commercial office space to single storey dwellings.
Modular construction and build-to-rent – accelerating house building?
Build to Rent (BTR) refers to purpose-built housing designed for rent rather than sale. Schemes usually offer longer tenancy agreements and are often professionally managed by the owner or operator. With a lack of affordable housing and UK house prices and rent soaring, Build to Rent developments are an attractive option for investors seeking long-term returns. In the UK the failure to replace retiring workers, has led to a skills shortage. With the rising trend for long-term renting coinciding with the housing market increase, the younger generation have been outpriced. So, how can we accelerate house building? The answer – purpose built blocks.
Among other things, build to rent can:
Modular construction in housing and beyond.
Offsite construction has become a leading solution to the UK’s housing crisis – an efficient method of constructing residential accommodation to meet an ever-growing demand. Modular construction allows for quick builds in the least time possible, causing minimal disruption.
The key advantage is speed as well as health and safety with a lot of trades no longer required onsite. Unlike traditional construction, where constant deliveries would disrupt site activities, this is cut down to a very small number. Only what is needed is brought to site, so waste is also greatly reduced.
Timber frame – an environmentally and economically proven solution
Offsite timber frame construction is an established high-value manufacturing and building method that delivers guaranteed quality, precision-engineered components to meet a variety of standards. A mainstream and intelligent way to build, it presents cost-effectiveness, speed, and energy-efficiency advantages from inception to construction, while removing practices that could invite error. For residential surveyors, offsite construction offers significant onsite benefits, cost certainty, and outstanding durability and robustness.
In the UK, timber frame is the largest method of offsite construction; one in four homes are built this way. Made with natural and renewable building material, timber has excellent ecological attributes, acting as a carbon sink with low embodied energy. The energy needed to convert trees into wood and hence into structural timber is significantly lower than that required by other structural materials such as steel and concrete, giving timber framed houses a lower carbon footprint.
Offsite construction delivers high-performance housing that requires little to no ongoing maintenance in terms of energy efficiency technologies. Rising energy bills for consumers and impending carbon emissions reduction targets for builders are a serious concern. Today the goal is to futureproof the infrastructure and build houses that do not require additional extensive eco attributes and are guaranteed to remain energy-efficient.
Affordable housing – how offsite construction is helping first-time buyers afford their own home
With the financial crisis of 2008, the housing market took a plunge. Today affordable housing is seen as accessible to those with a median household income as rated by the government.
The term ‘Pocket Home’ came into play in 2016 when the government launched its Affordable Homes programme. These modular homes offer considerable environmental advantages, which act as another incentive to cost conscious, socially responsible young people. Benefits of offsite modular construction include 80% less construction waste (with 95% of that waste being recycled), up to 80% fewer vehicle movements to site, equating to less noise, dust, and transport-related emissions in the area, and 50% less CO2 produced during construction. Pocket is now present in over half of London’s boroughs and has been instrumental in helping first-time buyers own a home near to where they have built their lives.
DfMA – how manufacturing and construction combine to create 21st century efficiency
Design for Manufacture and Assembly – DfMA – focuses on ease of manufacture and efficiency of assembly. Used for many years in sectors such as the automotive and consumer-products industries, driven by the need for consistency and quality, it is an approach that is increasingly being used in the construction industry, which is facing similar demands in the face of a major housing shortage. Construction uses a mass of raw materials from multiple supply chains. The process is lengthy with an often unskilled workforce. Again, what we see with DfMA is speed and efficiency. This method may be the best solution to meet the demand for UK housing whilst creating high-quality, standardised, and efficient buildings in a timely and cost-effective way. It also aims for zero-accident and zero carbon emissions.
The environmental benefits:
Evidence suggests that construction waste and site CO2 emissions can be more than halved
As we know from previous research there has been decades of housing shortages. However, the solutions are there. We can see the trend of modular construction is on the rise, with housing associations – private, non-profit making organisations that provide low-cost ‘social housing’ for people in need of a home (and the UK’s major provider of new housing for rent) – now taking up this trend.
It seems the modern methods of construction are redefining what we know of construction. Not only is it cost effective, but there are huge health and safety benefits as well as environmental benefits. At L + Architects we want to ensure best practice in every aspect of our approach. Talk to us today about your next project – [email protected]