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Creating a kit of parts for the industry

Guest article by Katie Rudin



Our world has been changed by people like Templeton*: Marie Curie, Steve Jobs and Ada Lovelace to name a few. So, to me, it is amazing that we keep using the same techniques and expect the state of housing to improve.


The urgency for change within the construction industry is unprecedented. An ageing workforce, persistently stagnant productivity, and a shortfall in the number of homes being built are just a few of the challenges we face. To put it into perspective, the UK managed to deliver only 233,000 homes out of the necessary 340,000 between 2021-22. This twinned with an uncertain economic and political environment means we need to think outside the box… and fast.


Hopeful horizons

At Akerlof we look to deliver better within the built environment by working with ambitious leaders across public and private sector. We apply our skills to support our clients to create sustainable value that maximises economic, social and environmental impact.


As Housing and Residential Sector Lead, I believe that the future for housing is one where Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) helps us to finally meet the housing targets. The UK government is pushing this agenda too, with a presumption in favour of offsite now filtering into projects and policy.


Helping the government meet its ambitions

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has recognised the need to support the move to offsite for housing. DLUHC commissioned Akerlof, alongside partners Buro Happold, HLM Architects and Limberger Associates, to undertake a year-long project to research and develop a digital kit of parts for low-rise housing that will improve standardisation and the uptake of MMC. This will help DLUHC to not only support the sector, but also enable them to deliver on their promise for more, better quality, safer, greener and affordable homes.


The kit of parts will provide a collection of standard, repeatable building components that contain key data and design information. This will help the industry to compare different systems by using a standard data template for each part, driving greater efficiency and productivity within housing.


Moving outside the echo chamber

I’ve so often watched construction innovation projects where teams have sat in incubators and only spoken to their immediate peers, not those the project will ultimately affect. For this project, I was keen to do things differently, and wanted to connect what is normally a siloed and fragmented industry.


With the help of the Offsite Alliance, we have engaged over 300 industry experts to understand the barriers and opportunities for a digital kit of parts and standardisation in housing.


By engaging outside of our echo chamber, we have been able to get to the bottom of barriers and begin to overcome them. It hasn’t been easy, but sometimes the right route isn’t always the easiest. Ultimately however, it will help us to create a kit of parts for the entire industry, rather than a select few.


It evokes a sense of excitement to be on the edge of innovation where policy is being put into practice. We hope that this will begin to create some clarity in the chaos of the fragmented market and move construction forward. I’m looking forward to the next few months where we build out the tool. We’ll be engaging with industry so please sign up and look out for updates as we would love to hear from you at MMC@akerlof.co.uk


Katie Rudin spoke on the 'Economic Realities: Adapting to Inflationary Pressure and Shifting Regulations/Methods' panel on Day 2 of Vision Construct at 11:20am. You can find the full stream here: https://www.resi.build/vision-construct


* John Templeton was a pioneer in both financial investment and philanthropy

† Homes England, Homes England strategic plan 2023 to 2028, 25 May 2023

MMC broadly to describes contemporary innovation, including new technology, offsite manufacture and more efficient processes.

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