May 11, 2016

Turbo charge commercial building with offsite construction

If recent reports are to be believed, ongoing political uncertainty across Europe is contributing to slower growth in commercial building.

If recent reports are to be believed, ongoing political uncertainty across Europe is contributing to slower growth in commercial building. But the commentary which accompanies the latest Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index does provide one important qualification: an implication that renewed activity is likely to return after June’s EU referendum.

We’d add our own caveat to that. Our experience is that the hotel and student accommodation sectors are extremely buoyant, and operators in both markets still see opportunities which require new property assets.

Allied to this is the overall feeling that world markets are on the whole faring reasonably well, if not spectacularly, which puts commercial operators in prime position for a post-summer surge.

As ever, speed is of the essence in taking advantage of strong markets and any future upturns; while an unequivocal commitment to quality is essential to longer-term business sustainability.

Offsite construction and timber systems allow the fleetness of foot to respond to opportunities, with an assured supply chain and rapid turnaround times, while providing products within guaranteed quality and environmental standards.

For example, Premier Inn, part of the Whitbread group, exploits both to build its renowned affordable hotels, allowing quick build programmes which enable paying customers to take advantage of its ‘goodnight guarantee’ more quickly.

In Glasgow, we helped the chain build its six-storey, 144-bed hotel on Pacific Quay, next to the BBC and STV studios, and within easy reach of the city’s SECC and SSE Hydro entertainment venues.

The building comprised four storeys of timber systems erected on top of two levels of concrete and glass, calling for close collaborative working between the various partners involved in the project. It’s now one of the city’s most popular hotel venues, and joins more than 700 Premier Inns the length and breadth of the UK. We also helped Premier Inn build its Burgess Hill hotel in West Sussex, with the timber systems erected on-site in just eight weeks.

The beauty of offsite construction is in the highly-customisable nature of the final product, which can be specified to exacting standards at the very earliest stages of the project. Need a BREEAM Outstanding-rated build? Incredibly high environmental performance standards can be designed into the fabric of the building, and precision-engineered timber components are manufactured to within single millimetres of architects’ drawings.

It also means the overall sustainability of the project is improved, with minimised waste on site – because the timber systems arrive ready to erect – and 100 per cent recycling of factory off-cuts.

Offsite construction is used to great effect by housebuilders who want to improve their cash cycles, environmental performance and protect their reputation for quality, and commercial developers are able to leverage those same benefits.

The construction sector is often seen as a bellwether for the rest of the economy, and by the same token it can be an example of efficiency, quality and financial acumen. Working in partnership with commercial partners, offsite manufacture and timber systems can play a central role in demonstrating why the UK’s construction sector is respected the world over.

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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