Helping Solve the Housing Crisis

Author: mickp

Totally Modular News

Totally Modular to deliver Bromford and Gloucestershire’s First Modular Scheme

Gloucestershire is set to see one of its first modular, affordable housing scheme managed by housing association Bromford manufactured by Totally Modular. This step changing development will see six, new build two bed houses transform an infill, garage site situated on existing brownfield land, suffering from blight, into six eco energy efficient houses.

Before & Proposed After of the Abbey View Site

The six, two bed homes will be a full turnkey solution manufactured by Totally Modular at its factory in Cradley Heath and transported 50 miles to the Abbey View site in the Winchcombe district of Cheltenham. With foundations in place ahead of arrival, each home is expected to take just hours to install and connect to services.

Totally Modular houses are a hybrid steel framed system with exterior finishes varying to each customer specification. Bromford have opted for a timber clad and white render finish that will provide a contemporary finish with a modern mono pitched roof to match. They will arrive on site with kitchens and bathrooms already fitted out, and other rooms already decorated.

The purpose of the development is to trial the precision engineered process and assess whether the buildings are a sustainable solution to address the local housing needs.

These new build homes will be completed up to 95% offsite within a controlled factory, expected to exceed building regulations therefore providing higher manufacturing solutions with lower risk and greater speed, cost-effectiveness and consistency.

The sustainability agenda is a big driving force behind the project, the offsite production of the properties reduces waste by up to 80% and helps reduce CO² by 50% when compared to traditional site construction, with the majority of materials used on the homes certified as recyclable. This scheme will also incorporate energy efficient technology, which will reduce running costs which will then enable more disposable income to become readily available for the residents. 

These homes align significantly to the government’s ambitions for greener and more energy efficient, affordable housing. The homes are expected to exceed our expectations and national standard average being a D rating, with a target of at least an EPC ‘B’ rating being achieved. Therefore, reducing the resident’s fuel costs and allowing more disposable income to be readily available for them.

Mike Craggs, Development and Asset Management Innovation Lead at Bromford, said: 

“We’re delighted to have got the go-ahead for these new homes in Winchcombe. We’ve been researching modern methods of construction for some time and have been looking for an opportunity to put them into practice. We’ve been working with our partners at Totally Modular and GSSArchitecture as well as Tewkesbury Borough Council to put these plans together.

These homes will be a first for us, but offsite construction is something we are keen to expand as we increase the number of new homes we build every year. Our goal is to build 12,000 homes by 2028 and by 2023 we want to be incorporating at least 250 homes a year from factories, like these ones we’re building in Winchcombe.

As well as building homes that are affordable to rent we want them to be affordable to run as well. That’s why we are also including some new technology in these homes that will increase their energy efficiency using solar panels and battery storage system from Pure Drive Energy and Daikin Altherma HPC heating and hot water system, as well as charging points for electric cars. Together these systems are likely to considerably reduce residents’ energy bills.”

John Connolly, Managing Director, Totally Modular, also commented: 

“Having worked on this project for the last 3 years and to finally see the planned development crossing the starting line, it will be a big relief to all stakeholders involved. Albeit most forward thinking registered social landlords have an aspiration to introduce a modular offering into their development plans, very few have committed to implementing the model as most prefer to study the process of evolution related to this form of delivery with an expectation of the success and benefits this technology offers before they commit themselves.

Fortunately, there are enough pioneers within Bromford that have been prepared to rise above what many individuals perceive as the risks of embracing change and have kept their eye on the goal!

In a collaborative effort and having overcome the many challenges they have faced, the team have stayed true to the objectives of intending to deliver a superior eco energy efficient housing solution, better, quicker and at cost neutral position when compared against traditional constructional methods. This outcome can only benefit the nation’s need of building more homes for an ever increasing population that will depend on a living environment that offers safe, future proof and socially beneficial features, which in times such as now, will shape the future for generations to come.” 

Keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Totally Modular News

Helping to solve the UK’s housing crisis

It is widely acknowledged that more homes need to be built in the UK. The government has been issuing (and revising) targets since 2015, and although numbers have increased during that period, the fact is the industry is still not building as many new houses as it did ten years ago.  West Midlands based housing constructor Totally Modular believes it has the answer, or at least a major part of the puzzle solved.

Volumetric modular construction of houses essentially enables homes to be built on a production line, in a factory, with all the inherent advantages of being an engineered product built in a controlled environment. Repeatability helps to speed up construction, while also allowing for the very latest construction methods and materials to be used.

The materials are supplied to the production line as they are needed, ensuring everything is in place for a just in time (JIT) build process. Trained engineers and tradesmen work side-by-side to assemble the pre-fabricated steel structure, attach all the internal wall panels, insulation and external finishing’s such as bricks, renders or cladding and fully fit out the internal areas incorporating the necessary kitchen, bathrooms and central heating with all utilities connected ready for site erection.

The whole process is fast, efficient and precise while also being compliant with the company’s ISO 9001, 18001, 14001 and 1090 CE certifications. All work is carried out in line with internally developed QA plans and controlled by QC inspectors who certify compliance at specific hold points. They liaise with both customers and third parties to witness and approve the key build stages as would a building inspector during a traditional development.

As the build process is not subject to the outside elements it can carry on all year round, while lean manufacturing and purchasing procedures ensure minimal waste is created. In scaling up the process to the company’s planned levels of operation, a standard two-bedroom house can be manufactured in just 96 hours at either of the company’s West Midlands factory locations, resulting in the delivery of up to 900 homes per year at full capacity for the two sites.

A scalable and repeatable solution

The plan doesn’t end there though, the business model is infinitely scalable and according to company director Mick Pettitt, the company’s plans could help start modular building factories all over the UK, using vacant industrial units, creating local jobs, pulling-in education centres and developing new communities with a vested interest in where they live, having played a part in its construction.

“This model is not only efficient, it is productive and sustainable. It is working extremely well in the West Midlands and so there is no reason why it wouldn’t work in any other industrial town in the UK and Ireland. We have done the hard work in developing the housing modules and the construction techniques, along with the management systems and even the marketing process. It’s a housing solution in-a-box and it is ready to go – we are also actively interested in supporting organisations and individuals that want to set-up their own Totally Modular community and factory.”

Housing associations, according to the company are very much on-side, frustrated by the need for developers to maximise profitability, affordable housing is proving very difficult to create in anywhere near the numbers needed. Volumetric modular house building on the other hand lends itself to building affordable housing, with compact, high-quality living accommodation built to a modern optimised design being economically repeatable, in volume supported by an approved CML warranty.

Once a factory is set-up and the necessary skills and training are put in place the plan is for the process to be self-fulfilling as it will generate local employment, wealth and much needed affordable housing, benefiting the community and society as a whole.

The model has been established in the West Midlands where two factories are being fully converted into lean dynamic cellular manufacturing facilities specifically laid out for the production of housing modules. Both sites can build a wide range of housing solutions based on single modules or multiple units which simply lock together onsite and can be occupied within 4 days of positioning. The designs have been developed and refined over the last ten years so are tried and tested and offer a range of layouts.

Training and communities

The community aspect becomes far stronger when local education institutions are involved. In the West Midlands Totally Modular is currently working with Dudley College (DCFE), regarded as one of the country’s leading BIM, CAD and Volumetric educational facilities. The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Institute for Apprenticeships and the new National Housing Academy are also involved and committed to creating an ‘Apprenticeship in Volumetric Engineering’ in order to provide the necessary workforce the industry will need to ensure sustainability of growth in the modular process going forwards.

Totally Modular and its local supporters believe volumetrically engineered housing will enable the creation of a new skilled workforce to produce the houses required at an affordable cost in factories located near the places of demand. This reduces nuisance construction traffic in urban areas and the carbon footprint of the house build.

Using the Totally Modular model, the scalability of the opportunity is easy to appreciate with a 40,000 sq. ft factory being able to produce 1200 modules annually resulting in the supply of 45,000 sqm of living space which equates to the equivalent of 600 houses being delivered per year. With a national requirement for an increase of an extra 120,000 homes per year (National Housing Federation and the homeless charity Crisis recent statistics) from what is being built now, no-one in the trade will be out of a job as a result.

It will require 200 new factories and a newly trained semi and skilled workforce of 40,000 to meet this demand alone, alongside the increased jobs created within the supply chain to produce an estimated 250,000 tonnes of steel, 30,000,000 square metres of wooden panels, plaster board, insulation and external finish, alongside 10,000,000 square metres of wooden and composite flooring. Each home will also need factory-built kitchens, bathrooms, boilers, radiators, doors, windows, tiles, pipes, cables and so on.

Government endorsement

The government is taking the suggestion very seriously; written evidence provided by Totally Modular on the advantages and challenges of modular housing has been accepted as part of the evidence for the current Lords inquiry on “Off-site manufacture for construction”. This document has been requested by the commons and got underway in March this year to help the Government to shape future building policies.

Mick concludes, “Factory building is fast and efficient, it’s why we don’t build cars and consumer white goods outside! All it needed was a team of people with the right skills, experience and will to come together and commit to the challenge. We are a self-funded enterprise, so we have the added incentive of commercial reality to make sure we succeed.”

“It would be great to be able to access some government funding, especially for the education and up-skilling of the workforce, but local housing associations and educational institutions are already creating opportunities and putting valued time and resources in, which is very encouraging for us.”

“We believe this opportunity will deliver significant change in the housing market and support traditional methods not hinder them while the benefits of cheaper, better, quicker affordable and social houses will bring benefits to all.”

Totally Modular News

TM Portfolio of Modular Homes 2018

Our portfolio of houses and custom module solutions are all built using volumetric steel frame modular manufacture techniques, with virtually all of the work done under cover in our quality controlled factory environments. The range is composed of 10 models, ranging from 16.8m2 ground floor buildings to 93 m2 two-story houses and blocks of 17 units.

TM line contains 1 apartment type (TM-AT.01), 1 bungalow type (TM-BT.01), 4 house types (TM-HT.01 to TM-HT.04) and 4 micro living pods (TM-HU.01 to TM-HU.04).

The design of the TM line is inspired by British architecture, and different exterior cladding options are available, such as redwood or cedar, render, bricks or cladding panels.

The modular houses are up-to 97% complete when they arrive on site, including fitted interior kitchens and bathrooms, external finishes and electrical cabling. The home is then delivered to the building site and craned into place over a piled foundation.

Totally Modular News

Advantages of Volumetric Modular

Volumetric modular building brings a number of advantages, compared to traditional onsite building construction, making it highly appealing to buyers, manufacturers and policy makers. More specifically, volumetric modular techniques are faster, cheaper and result in high-quality buildings.

Speed

Modular buildings can go up much quicker than traditional ones, as delays are minimised. According to different studies, volumetric modular constructions are approximately 50% faster than traditional methods.
First, the buildings are manufactured in factory conditions, where productivity is maximised. Also, the climate-controlled factory setting avoids any construction delays due to bad weather.

In addition, modular building reduces material waste. As the building materials are kept inside the factory, they cannot easily be stolen, vandalized, or ruined. Therefore, there is no need to replace the materials and supplies.

Quality

The service life of a modular construction is comparable to the one from traditional onsite-build constructions of equivalent high-quality.

In addition, by manufacturing the building offsite in the controlled environment of the factory, it is possible to monitor closely the building’s quality during manufacturing and provide an edifice of standardised and easily reproducible quality. In fact, studies found up to 75% fewer defects in offsite buildings.

Fixed Cost

Thanks to the factory conditions, which reduce construction times, risks and delays while improving the building’s quality, modular buildings are considerably cheaper than onsite-built edifices of equivalent quality.

More specifically, studies found modular construction to be 40-60% cheaper than traditional onsite building.

In addition, by using pre-set module and by reducing the chances of possible delays, costs are fixed and kept under control.

Finally, the offsite method enables to manufacture highly energy efficient buildings, therefore reducing future energy costs.

Save more at scale

As buildings are quickly manufactured in a factory, it is possible to produce more of them in a shorter time. Hence, the cost saving resulting from the production of one building are further amplified in scale production.

Urgent need for homes

The lack of affordable and decent homes is affecting the entire country. To solve this crisis, the UK Government is aiming to build 300,000 new homes per year.

Modular construction can help addressing this issue by quickly providing affordable, high-quality homes for families or solutions for social housing.

Skills shortage

It is estimated that over the next ten years there will be 25% decline in the construction industry labour force. Volumetric modular may be the solution to solve this crisis.

Working offsite, in indoor and in a protected environment is more favourable and less demanding than working outdoor, onsite. With people more motivated to work on a building production line, it is possible to overcome the construction skill shortage that is affecting the country.

Totally Modular News

What is Volumetric Modular?

Volumetric modular building brings a number of advantages, compared to traditional onsite building construction, making it highly appealing to buyers, manufacturers and policy makers. More specifically, volumetric modular techniques are faster, cheaper and result in high-quality buildings.

Speed
Modular buildings can go up much quicker than traditional ones, as delays are minimised. According to different studies, volumetric modular constructions are approximately 50% faster than traditional methods.
First, the buildings are manufactured in factory conditions, where productivity is maximised. Also, the climate-controlled factory setting avoids any construction delays due to bad weather.

In addition, modular building reduces material waste. As the building materials are kept inside the factory, they cannot easily be stolen, vandalized, or ruined. Therefore, there is no need to replace the materials and supplies.

Quality
The service life of a modular construction is comparable to the one from traditional onsite-build constructions of equivalent high-quality.

In addition, by manufacturing the building offsite in the controlled environment of the factory, it is possible to monitor closely the building’s quality during manufacturing and provide an edifice of standardised and easily reproducible quality. In fact, studies found up to 75% fewer defects in offsite buildings.

Fixed Cost
Thanks to the factory conditions, which reduce construction times, risks and delays while improving the building’s quality, modular buildings are considerably cheaper than onsite-built edifices of equivalent quality.

More specifically, studies found modular construction to be 40-60% cheaper than traditional onsite building.

In addition, by using pre-set module and by reducing the chances of possible delays, costs are fixed and kept under control.

Finally, the offsite method enables to manufacture highly energy efficient buildings, therefore reducing future energy costs.

Save more at scale
As buildings are quickly manufactured in a factory, it is possible to produce more of them in a shorter time. Hence, the cost saving resulting from the production of one building are further amplified in scale production.

Urgent need for homes
The lack of affordable and decent homes is affecting the entire country. To solve this crisis, the UK Government is aiming to build 300,000 new homes per year.

Modular construction can help addressing this issue by quickly providing affordable, high-quality homes for families or solutions for social housing.

Skills shortage
It is estimated that over the next ten years there will be 25% decline in the construction industry labour force. Volumetric modular may be the solution to solve this crisis.

Working offsite, in indoor and in a protected environment is more favourable and less demanding than working outdoor, onsite. With people more motivated to work on a building production line, it is possible to overcome the construction skill shortage that is affecting the country.