The research will monitor the construction of around 1,500 homes at sites across the country over several years.
Its aim will be to test the performance of different types of MMC to provide long-term verifiable data, so informed decisions about emerging construction technologies can be made.
The sites confirmed as being part of the study, so far, include:
- Northstowe phase 2a, a 406-home 100% MMC neighbourhood in Cambridgeshire being brought forward by House by Urban Splash; the modular homes will be manufactured at the House factory in Alfreton, East Midlands
- Spencer’s Park in Hemel Hempstead, a 600-home development by Countryside, where all the homes will be closed panel timber frame units
- the 87-home York Road development being delivered by Vistry Partnerships in Birmingham; the homes will be built using a timber frame closed panel system, delivered to site for assembly
- the study will also monitor sites in Swindon, Warrington, Newcastle and Milton Keynes, with details to be announced in the coming months
The study will explore the cost and pace of build, compared with traditional building methods, skills required, safety performance, snagging and defect issues, construction wastage, energy efficiency and post-occupation performance.
Another goal will be to learn lessons on how these technologies might be improved to encourage the widespread use of MMC.
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Atkins and Faithful+Gould have been appointed as the agency’s research and development partner for the project.
Working with the Building Research Establishment and University College London, they will collect and monitor data from the developers and produce annual updates on the research findings, before a final report is published at the end of the build programme.
Housing minister, Christopher Pincher, said: “Building the homes the country needs, is a priority for the government and [MMC] has enormous potential to not only accelerate this work but to deliver better quality homes too.
“Such an extensive and practical study will no doubt inform housebuilding for years to come.”
Nick Walkley, chief executive at Homes England, commented: “This large-scale, long-term and in-depth research project will provide the sector with the critical evidence it needs to make informed decisions about MMC and deliver better homes faster.”
Jon Swan, client director at Homes England and Atkins, added that its team will gather comparable and verifiable data to evaluate how MMC could be used to solve the construction industry’s flatlining productivity, and other key challenges within the UK’s residential sector.
Andrew Prickett, head of residential at Faithful+Gould, stated: “The UK is currently tasked with the target of delivering 300,000 new homes every year.
“Through this landmark initiative, we will collect and analyse a substantial body of data to quantify the performance of [MMC] and bring clarity to the housing industry on the benefits of choosing this technology.”