Offsite construction could fix UK building sector shortage

Offsite construction could fix shortage of construction workers

A new report by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) shows that the UK’s is suffering a ‘severe’ shortage of construction workers, but offsite and timber frame construction could help.

The FMB’s most recent State of Trade report showed that the shortage of construction workers has reached its worst ever levels. Therefore, solutions such as offsite construction and timber frames will be needed to address the significant challenges ahead.

In its budget statement from September 2017, the organisation estimated that an additional 230,000 workers will be needed over the next five years, and hiring European workers could be made more difficult by Brexit, complicating this issue further.

What’s more, in its 2017 House Builders’ Survey, FMB found 42% of SME house builders identified a skills shortage as a major barrier to their ability to build new homes.

How can timber frame construction help?

Offsite construction and timber frames mean that homes can be built up to 30% more quickly than using other methods, and in some cases can reduce costs by more than 25%. This could offer a solution to construction industry shortages, because if projects can be completed more quickly, capacity will increase.

Mark Cooper, of insulation company Actis, argued that offsite construction using timber frames could deliver on this solution. He said: “We must urgently embrace ways in which we can build those homes in a shorter time, thus necessitating fewer skilled man hours.”

Offsite construction, as the name suggests, means that “the bulk of the skilled element takes place off-site,” Cooper added. “Timber frame walls, floors and roofs, complete with electrical wiring, plumbing and insulation are built in factories at relative speed.” This can lead to significant savings, both in terms of cost and in terms of the time it takes to complete a construction project.

More information on the shortages in the construction sector can be found in FMB’s State of Trade reports, which are published quarterly as a means of monitoring growth in the UK’s construction sector.

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