A new modular build factory has opened in the North West, following on from factories in other parts of the country.

This is more evidence (if any was needed) that more and more housebuilders are looking seriously at off-site construction methods. Long popular in Europe, but largely shunned in the UK, there are several reasons the tide is finally beginning to turn. For example:

1. Skills and labour shortages;

2. Reduced on-site labour needs;

3. Precise build to spec, reducing waste and thereby increasing efficiency;

4. Speed - from 48 hours assembly on-site. Site prep and foundation works can be carried out simultaneously;

5. Overall build costs are more stable and predictable;

6. Health and safety is easier to control in a factory environment; and

7. Better/more consistent quality

But there are still challenges. For example, the ground prep works must be very precise and close collaboration is needed between the project manager, architects, contractors and the off-site manufacturer.

All of these challenges, and even the greater upfront costs, can be overcome. But the funding options are still very limited - funding for modular build needs to become more widely available. The Council of Mortgage Lenders has suggested that they need more evidence on how these units hold their value over time. Perhaps it is time for a working group to make some quick progress?