The UK has failed to keep up with the housing demand for decades, and now because of this, is facing a massive housing crisis. How can modular housing be one of the key solutions to addressing our current housing crisis?
Modular housing plays a crucial role in tackling many of the housing sector’s challenges. It offers a departure from traditional building, is driving up standards and is investing in research, development, and innovation.
Encouraging Modular Housing Is Needed To Reach Our Net Zero Targets
Housing Industry Leaders spoke to Steve Cole, Director of Make Modular at Make UK, about the importance of seeing more modular housing. Make Modular is working to bring together Britain’s leading modular housing manufacturers to solve the country’s housing crisis by delivering 75,000 affordable, high-quality homes before the end of the decade.
Steve began by explaining that modular housing is the big idea on the table for dealing with the issues that the housing industry is currently facing: “It will deal with a number of the issues that we’re facing in terms of employment, net zero, the quality of the homes we’re producing and the speeds we can produce.”
Reaching our net zero targets is crucial, and the housing sector has an important part to play in this as the UK housing is not building in the highest EPC band, with 80 per cent of new homes currently being in band B and only 2 per cent are in band A. These band B homes will need to be retrofitted over the coming years to increase performance. This could push up prices, constrain supply and increase issues over labour supply.
Steve revealed that to see the housing sector reach its net zero targets, modular is key. Still, people need to have their confidence boosted about modular housing but said that he believes that net zero houses are becoming more popular.
He said: “Customers, housing associations, and social landlords want net zero houses and are becoming increasingly aware of the long-term risk that traditional buildings can present to their properties.”
The Government Must Quickly Bridge The Capacity Gap
As outlined in the ‘Greener, Better, Faster: Modular’s Role in Solving the Housing Crisis’ report by Make UK Modular, modular has doubled its output in the last five years and is on track to increase by 400 per cent by 2025.
It is said to be delivering 1 in every 60 homes in the UK, and Make UK Modular members will be building over 10,000 homes a year by 2025. In addition, capacity is in place today to deliver more than 20,000 new modular homes per annum by 2025.
Steve revealed that the UK Government needs to continue to focus on implementing modular housing, but it needs to recognise the work it has done so far: “Modular is a government success story, and it is one they’re not taking credit for, they have done some good stuff in this space.”
They have attributed a string to the Affordable Homes Programme that goes into modern methods of construction.
This has helped create an environment where private institutions are willing to invest in the sector because they have that confidence. He explained that this confidence means that the capacity to build around 20,000 homes a year by 2025 has been put in place; however, there is a challenge to this: “It is about filling that gap, and that’s the big challenge, the government needs to make sure we do that.
“They need to understand that they have a success story and that we’re at a tipping point. We’ve got demanding net zero targets, and with the cost-of-living crisis, the government must make sure that it bridges that capacity gap as quickly as possible.”
We need modular to succeed in this country because we are going to lose a lot of the construction labour force in the next decade.
Modular Is Providing Secure Green Jobs
Encouraging people to work in the sector is crucial, as it is outlined in the report by Make UK Modular that the construction sector has an ageing and shrinking workforce. It reveals that 55 per cent of construction workers are over 40, and the industry will lose over 500,000 workers (around 25 per cent of the workforce) in the next 10-15 years through retirement alone. Additionally, employment in the sector has already fallen by over 120,000 between Q4 2019 and Q1 2022.
Steve expressed that he believes that modular housing will help to do this because modular building solves this problem because it does not rely on traditional construction skills but on manufacturing labour: “It is much easier, for example, to come into manufacturing than it is to go into construction when you’re over 50 because conditions are different.”
People are being encouraged to come into manufacturing as well, there is a lot of support.
Modular is creating highly skilled engineering, design and technical roles through R&D programmes, therefore, it is making it easier for people in low-employment areas to gain entry into secure work that supports the green economy.