According to the CITB, offsite construction accounts for less than 10% of all builds. This is a surprisingly low figure when you consider the numerous benefits the systemised approach seems to provide. But what exactly does ‘offsite construction’ mean and why should you consider it?
Offsite construction can also be referred to as ‘modern methods of construction’ (MMC) or ‘modular construction’ and is a system that has been in use since the 1900s. It means that components of a build are preassembled in a factory and will require minimal adjustment or handling onsite.
In many cases, offsite construction works much like simple, flat-pack furniture but on a much larger scale.
Steel-faced insulated (sometimes referred to as ‘sandwich’) panel systems are one example of products used frequently for offsite builds. They are typically factory engineered as a single component and delivered to site ready for installation. EPIC member panels also guarantee a durable and energy efficient building envelope.
Originally, these systems were primarily used on industrial projects, but have since been used to great effect for many other building types, including:
- Health care
- Multi-unit housing (MUH) accommodation
If processes, skills and project management are all fit for purpose, benefits for using offsite construction as part of a build programme can include:
- Predictable build programme
- Reduced costs
- Addressing the skills shortage
Simplify with systems
Using composite insulated panel systems can allow the building envelope to be installed extremely quickly, with some contractors reporting fit out was completed in a matter of weeks. This is because there is very little time spent onsite cutting or adding layers and the large panels are typically delivered with all the fixings needed to complete the installation.
With little extra handling required, and deliveries of materials being reliably pre-scheduled, it is possible to streamline the build programme with a better understanding of timescales and required staffing levels. This can further increase productivity and manage expectations for time needed to carry out the installation.
An EPIC-member fully-integrated insulated wall and roof panel system was used to create a 152,400 m2 retail distribution centre in Liverpool, which aimed to achieve a long-lasting and energy efficient design.
The building envelope was designed to achieve an air permeability of 5mᶟ/m²/hr @50Pa and a BREEAM rating of ‘A+’. In addition, the use of insulated panels in this development enabled the project to be constructed in just 34 weeks.
The next blog in this series will detail how steel-faced insulated panel systems can be used to help reduce both construction and operational costs.