The future of construction is offsite

Mark Lowry, CEO of The McAvoy Group discusses how Covid-19 has accelerated a shift toward MMC with offsite capabilities...

Northumbria’s Ambulatory Care Unit, delivered by The McAvoy Group, won the title of Healthcare Project of the Year at Offsite Construction Awards 2020.

While the benefits of offsite were never disputed, the pandemic has accelerated the shift away from traditional construction and toward more innovative ways of developing new buildings that are more environmentally friendly and allow for more intuitive design. The ability to deliver offsite buildings at a lower cost, to a much faster construction programme, and with significantly less disruption on site, have historically been the key attributes of offsite construction. While that remains true (those attributes have never been more valuable as we target recovery) there is growing appreciation for the quality of offsite buildings and the capital and expertise being poured into innovation.

As the UK construction industry builds on the growth seen in the last quarter, productivity and efficiency ARE more important than ever. The pandemic placed the importance of modern methods of construction (MMC) in sharp relief – it may be the shock the industry needs to transform the way buildings are designed and delivered instead of relying on traditional construction methods simply because that is what has always been done before.

The fact is, while traditional construction will no doubt prove to be the right method for some buildings, the majority of projects could be delivered more efficiently, more quickly and at less cost – but to the same standard of design and build – using offsite techniques. 

Mark Lowry, CEO, The McAvoy Group.

There’s a huge amount of innovation and R&D taking place within the offsite sector – the industry is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. We’re proud to be at the centre of that work, collaborating with other offsite experts to create new techniques, supported by cutting-edge digital tools and technology. The Seismic Consortium is a great example of what can be achieved via collaboration and sharing expertise. The first project transformed the way education projects are delivered, while the second now focuses on healthcare, with insights and learnings that can be applied to commercial projects. 

MMC will also play an important role in achieving the UK’s Zero Carbon commitment by 2050 – the construction industry is a major contributor. Offsite is key to reducing carbon emissions – not only in cutting the transport of materials to and from sites, but in the way buildings are designed and built and how they are managed and operated throughout their life cycle.

While the pandemic has created an extremely challenging period for the construction industry – as it has for most sectors – the recovery process is likely to favour MMC, with an increased uptake in offsite construction and a growing appreciation for the innovation and ingenuity being invested in MMC.

The McAvoy Group is an offsite construction specialist.
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