There is a unique opportunity to solve our housing crisis only via adversity it seems, an acute focus by UK government, in words at least, to build our way out of recession but only with significant investment from outside.
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist John Caudwell (who I admire greatly & have met at least a couple of times in the most random places including ‘Animal Flower Cave’ near our home in Barbados) urging government to invest heavily “intelligently” towards £1 Trillion and personally predicts up to 4 million unemployment….I have economist/investment friends insisting potentially a lot more. With 2 adult daughters myself out of work for a period both had to think fast on their feet, one leaving the movie business (amazing top job she worked damm hard to get with a world leader in prosthetics responsible for Harry Potter & any other movie you could think of) and re-training herself in local poorly paid healthcare for the time being whilst also running her new business at weekends/evenings. My fear is for our young population, some of which have absolutely no idea what is to come.
Boris Johnson our Prime Minister, along with shocking multiple U-Turn’s has finally pledged to “Build Build Build” which can only be good news for society. But what are the show stoppers? Only us! Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is the answer.
Winston Churchill, hero to some including me, had a similar pledge to re-house our nation back in the 1940’s, the solution was pre-fabrication via off-site manufacturing (OSM), homes built to last for 10 years, some of which still standing today. Pre-fabrication became a very dirty word for the UK based on poor insulation and quality in general, then we had the 1960’s Soviet style concrete monstrosities (designed by so called Architects) also still standing and riddled with danger to this day. The problem is a large proportion of the construction sector doesn’t really understand the capabilities of modern day OSM indeed ‘some’ protective of their outdated position. Similar to the invention of Apple Mac’s back in the day in the print world (our business) near 30 years back we experienced the demise of similar ‘dinosaurs’ sticking to their guns and to their peril I am afraid.
We can put the UK back on the map, easily, it’s the 21st Century, huge demand for housing and a mass pool of incredible British talent no doubt – but support from overseas collaboration is critical with huge investment & ‘off-site manufacturing armoury’. Of course not all the build needs to be 3D volumetric (often referred to as Modular built 95% off-site/completed homes) it will consist of a healthy mix of panellised solutions (nothing new to the UK) and latest hybrid product technology, including bathroom pods for example. The UK has many quality homegrown solutions and a hard working ethic, granted, but not to the level needed to build millions of homes. We cannot do this alone and the government could have easily avoided this decades ago investing in our industry following the likes of the Baltic’s, Germany and other MMC world leaders.
Let’s invest heavily & intelligently as Mr Caudwell says – build our way robustly through this storm utilising state of the art modern methods:- built to last
Our outdated construction industry must open up its eyes and genuinely embrace MMC finally – lenders have dragged their heels and are partly responsible for holding back our country surely? – they need to be held to account but more importantly educate themselves with MMC. We need homes for the people not even more luxury apartments which developers preferred to build for obvious reason, with distinct recent changes in planning long over due we hope that delivery will happen with genuine support from planning departments.
Questions: how many of these lenders have actually been to an off-site manufacture? And not just in the UK (who are tiny in comparison to the Baltic’s alone)? Have they toured extensively worldwide state of the art facilities? Have they visited completed projects and asked the tenants what the living experience is like? Investors are also winning with better ROI and sustainable product. What is their specific knowledge of our sector? Are they qualified?? Why has it taken so long? Fit for purpose? They caused us major problems now will they fix them?
Inbox me for our solution for Affordable Housing aimed at creating joint ventures with local authorities, housing associations, investors, MMC and local delivery partners. Our longer term goal is to establish academies for young people to learn with more emphasis on apprenticeship experienced based learning. We have many investors poised to add value to our great nation.