The New Era of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)

One Client, TopHat, has recently announced plans to open a facility next year that can produce one modular home per hour!

Their new Factory will be based in Corby, Northants, creating 1,000 new roles and will be the size of around eight football pitches. Their aim is to build 4,000 homes per year and the new premises will work alongside their current Factory in Derby which produces 800 homes annually.

Roughly 200,000 homes are built nationally annually, around 15,000 are modular – Mordor Intelligence. 

One reason TopHat has decided to invest in MMC is in line with the government’s net-zero targets for carbon emissions. This means the landlord cannot rent a property unless it has Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings of at least C by 2030. 

“If you want to build homes with better air tightness that are more energy-efficient, you can do that much better with precision engineering inside a factory than you can build outside,” Rosenhaus said.

Although modular building companies have suffered significant losses in the last five years, there are signs of a brighter future with volume housebuilders such as Barratt who have built a flagship zero carbon home concept called Zed House and Berkeley Group opening a new factory based in Kent which will provide 1,000 modular homes per annum. 

Jordan Rosenhaus, the Chief Executive of TopHat, said: “I wouldn’t get on a plane that wasn’t built in a factory and we all drive cars, very good cars, that are built in factories, and I don’t think we’d want it any other way.”

MMC is an innovative approach to off-site manufacturing, moving away from traditional bricks, which was first popularised after the end of the second world when the UK faced a considerable housing shortage. 

Different types of MMC

Volumetric: Characterised by the off-site design and manufacture of 3D units typically made of timber or steel, being assembled under factor conditions to increase speed. 

Pods: Rooms such as kitchens, bathrooms, etc. which are designed to slot into existing structures 

Panelised: Also known as panelised construction involves flat panels assembled on-site, unlike volumetric. 

Sub-Assemblies and Components: Individual housing elements such as roofs, and chimney stacks are pre-assembled and added to existing buildings. 

Site-based MMC: Structural components which are assembled on site. 

Drivers for the adoption of MMC: 

  • Skills shortage due to lack of investment in training within the construction industry 
  • The quality of houses built via tradionatial methods 
  • Environmental performance during and after construction