Guides & Advice

Building the future: the benefits and challenges of MMC

Published: 30th June 2021
Area: Real Estate & Planning

In recent years, modern methods of construction (MMC) have become increasingly popular, as it provides a fast and high-quality alternative to traditional house building. However, a lack of knowledge surrounding these methods has meant some developers have been hesitant to embrace it.

Read more about the difference between MMC contracts and standard construction contracts.

To tackle this, the government has assembled a ‘MMC taskforce’, which aims to encourage the industry to use off-site construction methods and accelerate the roll out of much-needed housing. So, what do housebuilders need to know about MMC?

What are modern methods of construction (MMC)?

MMC is an umbrella term given to a range of offsite manufacturing and onsite techniques that provide alternatives to traditional housebuilding. The most common form of MMC is modular housing, where the structures of the homes are built off site in a factory environment, before being delivered to the development site and assembled in-situ.

Although this method of construction is something that has been talked about for many years within the industry, it still only accounts for a small percentage of the total housing delivery in the UK. However, as the need for quick and sustainable construction solutions continues to grow, so does the momentum behind MMC.

What are the benefits of MMC?

Promising a speedy solution to housebuilding, MMC continues to grow in popularity, particularly with registered providers that need to provide high quality housing as quickly as possible. But speed is not the only benefit of these new methods of construction, others include:

  • Reduced construction time on site, resulting in less disruption for existing residents;
  • Fewer housing defects thanks to stricter supervision in factory;
  • Reductions in energy use and waste;
  • Safer construction; and
  • Greater flexibility - modular buildings can be disassembled and the modules relocated or refurbished for new use elsewhere.

However, despite these benefits, MMC still has some way to go before it is favoured over traditional housebuilding, due to limited awareness of the associated risks within the industry.

What are the challenges of MMC?

Like with anything new and innovative, MMC is not without its challenges and in this case, it could be argued that they stem from a lack of confidence in the product.

Unlike traditional housebuilding, MMC is done off site in a factory environment, meaning an element of trust is essential. For many housebuilders who are accustomed to being on site 24/7 and having unlimited access to check on the progress and quality of the build, this could prove to be difficult. Although many professionals continue to doubt the quality of MMC, being built in the controlled environment of a factory allows for rigorous testing of the product and leads to a consistently high-quality result.

There are also still question marks surrounding the long-term maintenance of MMC homes. This shouldn’t be a problem, with precision and energy efficiency built into these homes as standard, but until they have been lived in for an extended period of time, this will remain an unknown.

Further investment

MMC still has a way to go before it becomes part of the mainstream, but developers are starting to take a chance on it. Although more evidence regarding its long-term viability is needed, the MMC taskforce is aiming to accelerate the delivery of offsite homes in the UK, meaning more investment will be coming the sector’s way. Increased investment will continue to have a positive impact on MMC, making it more secure route for those in the industry.

Contact us

If you’re considering using MMC in a future development and would like more information, our construction and residential development teams can provide some guidance and support. For further information please contact Ruth Phillips or Louise Ingram.

Our construction team is ranked as a Leading Firm in the Legal 500 2021 edition.

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