The term ‘Modern Methods of Construction’ (MMC) is often mentioned when discussions occur about the need to build more new homes. Richard Lankshear, Innovation Manager at NHBC, explains more about this approach…
At NHBC we have a specific way of assessing MMC Systems so we can understand the detail of the system and support our customers by carrying out a thorough review.
As such we identify MMC as offsite manufacture, innovative technologies and other non-conventional methods of construction that form the structure and envelope of the home. This includes sub-assemblies, volumetric and panelised systems manufactured off site as well as site-based MMC.
Not all offsite manufacture is necessarily a Modern Method of Construction as many conventional forms of construction are assembled offsite. We do not treat a system as MMC if the construction is described in the NHBC Standards and where the system components can be inspected on site.
We know that vast majority of homes are built with traditional cavity masonry – 74% in 2017 with 16% in timber frame and 1.5% in light steel frame with the balance in framed structures or unique systems.
However, what we are seeing is an overall much greater interest in MMC systems. In the past we received between four and eight innovative systems to review each year, but this changed dramatically from about 2015/16 with over 30 systems received in 2016. Last year saw a record 38 new systems submitted.
And this is also seen in the investment by house builders and housing associations in their own offsite production and the emergence of new, sizeable, manufacturers of MMC systems. The Government’s White Paper and the MHCLG report “Modernise or Die” set out the opportunities for greater use of MMC and industry is certainly responding.
The 2018 NHBC Foundation report “MMC: Who’s doing what”, identified “Quality” as the primary driver towards the use of MMC. This potential raising of standards is welcomed by NHBC, but it is not always achieved. What is clear from our review of multiple MMC systems is that quality is only achieved through investment – investment in design, in manufacturing procedures, in training and in construction.