The UK is decades behind the curve when it comes to Off-Site Manufacturing but what is more concerning is the financial stability and lack of scaleability of homegrown supply. The overseas is vastly bigger (& growing rapidly) than what is currently a Cottage Industry in the United Kingdom despite many promises and bravado in the trade press. Our housing crisis is not going away and the industry is not adopting modern methods as efficiently as possible, so how do we cure this problem?
See here with some tips for consideration;
Ask for 3 years trading accounts including details of Parent Guarantees, Accreditation’s, Payment Terms to understand the cashflow requirement, Quality Assurance, Vesting Certificates etc. The factories should have good credit and a performance bond should be taken out by the main contractor and the modular company together under a turnkey solution. Ask what are the manufacture fabrication numbers per annum? Plans for expansion? R&D strategy?
Past experience & proof of delivery including testimonials from clients for a variety of projects in different countries
Ask about production capacity - no point engaging unless they can accommodate your project. Countless OSM’s promoting themselves who don’t have capacity - pointless!
Visit the factory multiple times (get past the red carpet sales treatment & delve in to technical detail with the in-house engineers) & indeed projects they have completed & at various stages of the build ‘on’ & ‘offsite’. Engage with experienced engineers & local delivery partners who have actually delivered projects suited to your requirements. Plenty of consultants/QS’s/architects in the UK claiming to be modular experts - beware!
Delve in to the detail about delivery, turnkey? Who takes responsibility for what? Cover off the ‘what if’s’ - plan for success but be aware of the risks like any construction project
Panels, Volumetric or Hybrid? Which system suits best considering site access, size, end sales values, requirement for speed/completion? Does it make sense? Not always! Apart from better quality
Modular companies work to RIBA stages that have been converted to modular construction
Will your investors or lenders feel happy to work with the OSM’s payment terms? More costs to pay upfront, up to 70% before anything is delivered on site. Are they sufficiently educated about OSM?
Height - most OSM’s have limited experience in achieving significant height, certainly most over 8 storeys, considering the steel costs for multiple floors which can cancel out savings albeit a far more efficient way of working including speed
How can you include complimentary integrated technology such as HVAC? The factories as a rule don't have an MEP consultant as this may well be appointed by the developer or main contractor to issue a performance specifications so that the modular design can design in with the modules
Ignore the doubters! Lead the way, don’t follow. Half full not half empty mentality is required
Remember it’s all about production capacity where quality, customer service and accreditation is a given. With a requirement of 3m plus homes the UK homegrown OSM’s don’t have the capacity to cater so you have to look overseas for a potential solution with a team you trust indeed working with UK delivery partners.
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