This year, rumblings and reports have informed us in the construction and interior fit-out industries that in 2019, the UK government will favour those construction contrasts that bid with off-site manufacturing as part of the package. A recent article penned by Gavin White and Andrew Mather of Ramboll explores what civil engineers can do to make projects off-site ready and tick the boxes that will be critical for business growth and stabilised revenues in the next 12-18 months.
Due to our longstanding experience, customer relationships and even the work we undertake ourselves, here at Architectural Wallsz we entirely agree with the author’s note that off-site construction has a huge range of disciplines and systems under its umbrella. From factory made components, façade units and modular rooms, the construction industry has never been more flexible and innovative. However, this has led to a diverse marketplace that can at times seem fragmented. This makes it that more challenging to understand off-site project benefits and made the requirement for coordination and detail absolutely key.
White and Mather state that “realising the benefits of off-site manufacturing for a particular project requires a project-specific, holistic review based on important lessons learned over the past decade”. They continue by saying that “off-site construction will only deliver value if its constraints are fully understood and lead the design approach”.
Having in the last year teamed up with DIRTT as their UK distributor, this way of thinking has become even more engrained in our approach and we couldn’t agree with White and Mather’s message more. Whether we’re talking manufacture, handling, transportation or installation, every element should be considered so that functionality, aesthetics, energy credentials and of course, cost, perform to the highest standard and remove the need for expensive recoveries.
Something that we keep central to the Architectural Wallsz way of thinking are the holistic touches, especially when it comes to off-site construction and how we guarantee blueprints are perfectly and effectively translated into a real-world space. Acoustics, light, sustainability and appearance are all put on the table right from the earliest stage of development, whereas traditionally structural, electrics and plumbing would be prioritised.
White and Mather rightly note that this has all changed in today’s world of construction. They recognise that “the technical design must align with the procurement, cash flow, supplier availability and client’s funding mechanism”, focuses that we heavily discuss internally and also with our clients. Getting the right solution and space for them is extremely important to us, and keeping check of all the essential off-site preparation processes means Architectural Wallsz (and DIRTT) remain stable during development.
Working at Ramboll, White and Mather are able to share some excellent tips of how they achieve great results for their clients. They quote that resources such as digital tools linked to off-site technical databases allowing for rapid option assessment were of great benefit, whilst a master planning tool that aligned the best off-site approaches with their clients’ needs kept smiles on faces.
With all this in mind, we along with White and Mather strongly recommend that construction and interior fit out companies take strong lead from best-practice methods for making projects off-site ready. The industry landscape is changing, with higher quality standards and demands of a 50% increase in delivery time from the Government. In addition, growing needs for housing dominate the headlines and motivations all whilst regulations get tighter.
White and Mather hail digital design as the best option for success and satisfaction in this climate and challenging space for construction. In last year’s autumn budget, the chancellor said that government will ‘adopt a presumption in favour of offsite construction by 2019’ which suggests that businesses beyond the leaders and disrupters must target the off-site market as a tangible opportunity for success and growth.