At Bishops Gate Developments we use a variety of construction methods including traditional, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Modular construction. It is out intention to transition to 100% modular construction on all sites commencing 2019.

The technology behind this exciting construction method is evolving rapidly and with increased pressure to build more houses, faster we believe this is the future of house building.

Here we attempt to highlight the pros and cons related to each construction method in an effort to help others see the potential of modular.

Traditional Construction

Comprises of two methods: Brick and block cavity wall with insulation or Timber Framed construction. Both these construction methods have been used for the past 50+ years and experience widespread use.

Pros

  • Widespread use over a long period of time means lenders; surveyors and homebuyers understand this construction method, reducing the need for education.
  • Provides a solid construction with minimal problems
  • Materials are available off the shelf from builder’s merchants
  • Timber frame construction allows for a reduction in build time due early exterior erection

Cons

  • An increasing lack of available skilled labour
  • Expensive labour rates
  • High levels of material wastage
  • Weather dependent
  • Variable standards of work across a development
  • Extended project timelines
  • Expensive often-unworkable interest payments as a result of longer timelines on larger developments

Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) Construction

SIPs panels have been around for a number of years, with their use becoming more widespread across the UK in recent times.

The panels are made up of 2 layers of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and 1 sheet of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which are simply fitted together. This is a great construction method that has been used for many years in colder regions of America and Eastern Europe, but has seemingly struggled to replace widespread traditional construction.

Pros

  • Quick to erect
  • Offer high thermal efficiency
  • Slightly cheaper per sq. ft. to build
  • Deliver increased air tightness and as a result offer reduced energy costs, great for homeowners and tenants
  • Popular for developers of Build to Rent blocks
  • Increased accuracy and standardised construction as panels are formed in the factory
  • Can be clad in brick, render or cladding giving the appearance of a standard build.

Cons

  • Usually no cavity
  • Requires an element of skilled labour to erect professionally
  • Prone to damp issues where stored on site if exposed for a long period
  • More expensive if a cavity is to be formed
  • Bespoke so replacement panels have to be ordered from the factory

Modular Construction

Modular as a construction method is changing the way we build and if widely adopted could help to address the current housing shortage. Constructed off site in a factory, modular units are then delivered pre-formed to site via lorries.

With more factories being constructed, this type of construction continues to improve and reduce in price making modular our preferred choice

Pros

  • Single houses can be erected in as little as 3-days
  • 5-6 apartments can be installed in 1-day, every day
  • Reduced cost of borrowing due to shorter build time, resulting in greater profits
  • Minimal trades required on site
  • No material storage on site resulting in less damage and thefts
  • Can be built in tight or awkward sites
  • Build to rent increases revenue from letting out months ahead of traditional build
  • Factory controlled production ensures construction standards are maintained
  • Increased levels of quality assurance
  • Main mortgage companies are approving modular
  • Highly suitable for the Private Rental Sector (PRS)
  • Units can come completely finished including kitchens, decorating and carpets
  • Can be clad in brick, render, timber or metal
  • Scaffolding not usually required on straight apartment blocks reducing costs
  • Lighter foundations can be used reducing costs

Cons

  • Module dimensions are limited to external 9m x 4m due to transport requirements
  • Dimensions must be considered during design and planning phases
  • Access restrictions on some sites due to transport
  • Building height is limited, although constantly improving. 32 stories in New York is the largest to date.

All 3 types of construction work well however we believe and hopefully you can see the benefits available through the use of modular construction are many, none more so than those of quality, speed and cost – primary considerations for developers and investors alike.

Here at Bishops Gate Developments we consider various exit strategies for all of our developments and are confident modular construction works with all: On Market Sales, Build to Rent and PRS.

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