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What is Modular Construction?

Future Proofing the Construction Industry One Pod at a Time

Historically, some housebuilders have been sceptical of modular building. However, the need for more quality housing - and the speed at which we need to build it - coupled with a less skilled workforce and higher demand on specification, have all led to many across the industry looking for cheaper, quicker ways of building without compromising on safety or performance.

That’s why offsite production and modular construction have returned to the forefront of everyone’s minds.

But What is Modular Construction?

Modular construction is a method of building in which structures or buildings are constructed off-site in a factory setting, using prefabricated modules. These modules are then transported to the building site and assembled to form the finished structure.

This method can be used for a variety of building types, including single-family homes, multi-unit residential buildings, and commercial structures.

The Benefits of Modular Construction

Modular construction offers several benefits, such as

  • Faster Construction Times: Fully fitted kitchen and bathroom pods can be delivered to the site in a matter of days.
  • Better Quality Builds: Factory assembly provides greater quality control and less reliance on bands of subcontractors.
  • Increased Efficiency: Everything is built more thoughtfully, which means wastage is minimised.
  • Saves Time and Money: Less time building homes will no doubt improve the key metric of return on capital employed.

The Push for More Modular Construction

Last year, Savills predicted that the proportion of new housing developments built using MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) would need to increase from the current 6-10% to 20% of the market in the coming years if we are serious about meeting the Government’s ambitious target of building 300,000 homes each year by 2025. 

Building Momentum

Statistics1 show that nearly 50,000 new homes were built in the first three months of 2021, the highest figure in over 20 years. But since then, the construction industry has been hit by a variety of challenges that have caused projects to suffer from delays and unanticipated costs.

However, to meet industry targets, we would need to increase the number of homes being built by 24% per annum, which would be an impossible task using traditional methods of construction. This has led to us seeing more widespread adoption of modern methods of construction (MMC) and there are several reasons for this.

In a time where material and energy costs are soaring, cost-efficiency is a key benefit of manufacturing offsite. In fact, the Buildoffsite report estimates that the cost of remedying construction defects onsite adds around 2% to an onsite project’s overall cost, and onsite waste amounts to 3-5% of overall costs.

In contrast, the costs for offsite manufacturing are close to 0% for remedying defects, and 1-3% for waste costs during production, demonstrating that offsite construction could actually help the industry to make substantial savings.

On an environmental level, modular construction could also play a major role in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. This is because factory-controlled environments allow production methods to be streamlined, resulting in higher efficiencies and ensuring that any waste that is produced can be better controlled and recycled, with less risk of contamination.

On top of this, energy use can also be regulated more easily in a factory setting as fewer lorries and people are required to deliver fully fitted modules to the site. This helps to minimise the number of employees and suppliers travelling to and from the site on a day-to-day basis.

MLCP: An Energy-Efficient Choice

Advances in technology now mean that modern pipes such as Uponor Multi-layer Composite Pipe are the perfect choice for modular units that require domestic services and energy-efficient heating systems.

By using modern plumbing techniques such as manifold plumbing and smaller-sized pipes, fewer fittings are required which minimises the potential risk of leakage, and helps to provide faster hot water delivery. This in turn saves energy and reduces a home’s operational carbon emissions (whilst cutting residents’ energy bills, too!)

Many across the industry also used to argue that buildings constructed offsite would be of lower quality. However, this is far from the truth. In fact, installation quality is extremely high in systems installed offsite as those who carry out the work specialise in a specific area, such as plumbing, and can install the building’s services in a clean, controlled environment.

At Uponor, we work closely with our modular construction partners to provide continuous training and ongoing installation quality reviews. This ensures consistency in the use and installation of our products which enables better plumbing designs and quality control.

The Future Lies in Modular Construction

The chronic need for new homes combined with the growing pressure on the sector to cut carbon emissions and tackle sector-wide shortages means that modular construction must now be seriously considered by housebuilders, main contractors, and developers if we are serious about meeting government targets.

Sticking solely to traditional methods of construction simply won’t make the cut anymore. If we want to revolutionise the industry, meet targets, and create the high-quality, technologically advanced, energy-efficient homes of the future, it could be time to move away from wasteful building sites and consider the fact that housebuilding’s future may well be in the factory. 

Find out more about how Uponor can help with offsite manufacturing and modern methods of construction by calling us today at 01923 381212 or by emailing

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