Construction firms will be required to use off-site manufacturing for new public homes to speed up delivery.

The new state contractual requirements will represent a move away from the tradition of building homes block by block. Modular construction panels, light steel frames or timber frames will be used instead.

Government officials are hoping that the mandatory use of these modern methods of construction in public housing contracts will also drive down the high level of site waste from leftover blocks, planks and other materials.

Each off-site house part is manufactured to precise specifications in advance, which can reduce construction waste by 50 per cent.

The latest update on the government’s Housing for All plan states that the target for using modern methods of construction in public housing projects is “on track” for delivery by this summer.

Builders will be shown how to use modern methods of construction at a new “demonstration park” set up at the Mount Lucas construction training centre in Daingean in Offaly by the end of this year. It will have several different residential units including terraced housing, semi-detached houses and apartments.

The move is based on advice from the government’s official construction sector working group that public projects can be used to drive the adoption of modern methods of construction.

The Construction Industry Federation, which is led by Tom Parlon and is a member of the group, has welcomed the plan to get more firms to engage in modern methods of construction using public works.

A spokeswoman said it was sure that many firms would engage in the process.

“The construction industry is committed to supporting methods of construction that can deliver high-quality houses at the scale required to meet demand and build homes,” she said.

The government has given councils €94 million in funding to build 1,500 public homes on their own land using modern methods of construction, in a further attempt to drive the uptake.

Feargal Ó Coigligh, an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing, recently told the Oireachtas housing committee that modern methods of construction be “more timely and quicker” rather than “lower cost or lower quality”.

He also said that adopting these techniques would encourage manufacturers to build more off-site facilities in Ireland.

“You then get people working in much more agreeable environments when building our houses, and people happy to go into careers in the area,” he said.

Source: Business Post

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