The Offsite market in the UK - a new opportunity for precast?

2010-03-17T12:45:12Z (GMT) by Chris Goodier Alistair Gibb
Concrete, both precast and in situ, is frequently the first choice, and sometimes the only choice, for the designers of civil engineering projects. In the residential sector however, concrete experiences stronger competition from other materials such as masonry, steel and timber. Although precast concrete is a mature and developed industry, in the residential sector in particular it is frequently categorised as a MMC, or Modern Method of Construction. This categorisation has both positive and negative effects for precast as a construction technique for the residential sector. Historical events have also shaped the image and perception of reinforced concrete for housing amongst the public as well as the design fraternity. This paper discusses the relative position and image of precast concrete in the residential sector amongst clients (including the public), designers, producers, contractors and other stakeholders in the construction supply chain. Historical events such as the Ronan Point collapse are outlined. The results of a recent market survey by Loughborough University1 on the views of the supply chain regarding offsite applications (including precast concrete) are compared and contrasted with a similar study undertaken by Robert Gordon University2. Results presented and discussed include the demand for offsite, the limitations to expansion and the different industry sectors perception of the advantages and disadvantages (both perceived and real) of offsite compared with traditional construction.