Modern Methods of Construction cost saving potential…


MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) is a broad ‘umbrella’ acronym that describes a variety of contemporary construction methods and processes including:

Off-site Construction, Modular Construction, Precision Manufactured Construction, Design for Manufacture and Assembly, Pre-Manufactured Value, Digital Construction, Smart Construction.

With these processes are design and construction outputs that assist and aid the enhanced delivery of building projects that include the use of: Panellised Walls/Floors, Bathroom Pods, Utility Pods, Pre-fabricated MEPH Riser components, Balcony modules, Kitchen modules.

Cost Saving Potential
Recent cost estimates suggest that, for medium-size residential schemes, MMC could be 10-20% more cost effective than traditional methods and can reduce the overall programmes by circa. 25% – 50%. Whilst this may be the case, the process of MMC use/implementation provides other considerations to take on board, especially when used in the residential market.

For Housing Associations and Local Authorities, the higher speeds of construction and quality associated with MMC use is of particular interest as more homes can be delivered to reduce affordable housing waiting lists, the impacts of cost inflation, interest payments, long-term maintenance costs and generate more rental income from programme savings. Private Sale developers don’t always need this benefit as they look to time their delivery and sales to maximise their profits, and avoid flooding the open market with over-supply. Private Rental Sale Clients, in the other hand, most definitely do want the added rental income that these programme savings bring.

For other markets serving societal needs such as Schools and Healthcare projects, the same applies as these critical public services can be delivered in less time than with traditional construction methods.

The short construction programmes will often present cost savings associated with Construction Prelims costs (e.g Crane and Plant hire, logistics, Welfare set-ups and labour costs associated) rather than actual unit build & component costs, which are currently transferred to the offsite factory manufacturing process. Recent data suggests prelim savings could be around 10-12%.

MMC Supply Chain

Currently the UK MMC Supply Chain is still in its infancy with regards to number of solution providers available. As this increases, alongside use of digital manufacturing in their construction factories, we should see unit build costs coming down. It should be noted that standardisation of building components from the supply-side and mass uptake from the demand-side is needed for these cost savings to materialise. It’s the economies of scale principles typically associated with product manufacturing that the construction industry needs to adopt. Repetition of standard components such as floor and wall panels, a standard bathroom pod design, MEP Service modules that stack, will positively impact the cost of a project and remove financial challenges often associated with bespoke project solutions.

De-risking Construction through Design for Manufacturing & Assembly (DfMA)

DFMA stands for Design for Manufacture and Assembly. It is the combination of two methodologies; Design for Manufacture, which means the design for ease of manufacture of the parts that will form a product, and Design for Assembly; the design of the product for ease of assembly.

Applied to construction, a well controlled, planned and managed design phase is critical for the benefits of an MMC project to be achieved off and on-site. Design information will need to solidified to a higher detail much earlier than under traditional procurement so factory manufactured components can be programmed into a production line slot and assembled with ease on site. This reduces on-site construction risk which typically results in delays, cost overruns on traditionally built projects. It should be highlighted that currently upfront design costs are typically much higher than traditional build to accommodate this higher level of detail being brought forward / earlier in the process. The benefits by way of cost savings from reduced design errors, clashes and re-work during construction, as well as increased and smoother build programmes should readily justify this upfront spend.

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Eradicating Fuel Poverty through Retrofits

Construction, Design, Sustainability

The definition of Fuel Poverty…In the UK, a household is considered to be in fuel poverty if its energy bills are disproportionately high when compared to its residual income (Low Income High Costs Indicator). Closely related to this is the sometimes poor standard of housing accommodation which causes residents to consume large amounts of energy to heat their homes.

The scale of the problem…Nationally, out of approx. 27.2million UK households, it is estimated that 4 million households are living ‘Fuel poor’. That’s a staggering 15% of our existing stock and there are suggestions from industry experts that the current figure could be even higher.

Whilst I’ve personally not had the unfortunate situation of being directly impacted by this, I have experienced living in poor quality (energy efficiency) rented housing during my student days. The experience stuck with me, and as an architect-developer I’m keen to use my skills to find creative solutions to address this problem.

Some of the causes…

  • Poorly designed, constructed and insulated existing stock of housing built 25+ years ago still in use and not refurbished to high standards.
  • Rising Fuel costs, housing cost increases (be it rent or purchase price), alongside wage increases below inflation leaves increasingly more households susceptible to fuel poverty vulnerability.
  • Sub-standard private rental properties neglected by Landlords.

To stay healthy in body, mind and spirit we need to stay warm and comfortable. Living cold homes can make vulnerable people ill and existing illnesses worse. This then places extra strain on the nation’s overstretched health and social care services. In the winter of 2016/2017 an estimated 34,300 deaths were recorded in England & Wales(*). Historic research has suggested that up to 30% of these can be attributed to people occupying cold homes. Something has to change.

A solution and its benefits…Good architectural design and construction can play a big part in alleviating fuel poverty.Retrofitting our existing stock of housing is one key ways to bring these 4million homes out of fuel poverty. To retrofit a home essentially means making the home more energy efficient and healthier by adding to or upgrading its existing features/components to a higher energy performance standard that also reduces energy running costs.

I see retrofits as the only viable way for homeowners/households to gain control and shelter their energy bills against significant future prices rises. Measures such as loft, floor and wall insulation, energy efficient heating, water, radiator systems and double/triple glazing are all simple ways to improving the energy performance of existing homes. Take a look at EnerPHit for more insight on this and get in touch if you’d like to share more thoughts on this.



Image Capture - NBS 2017
Image credits: RIBA Enterprises Ltd © 2017

Over a year on from the BIM 2016 government mandate and what’s changed? Not much on first glance at the recent NBS National BIM Survey 2017. Dig a little deeper though and a quiet transformation seems to be taking place one year on. It appears slow, painful, taking two steps forward and one step back but the BIM revolution is quietly rumbling away ready to take the next push onward.

Key points to note from the survey include:

  • When asked what the key barriers are to BIM adoption, 65% of respondents stated ‘No client demand’. The survey doesn’t clarify whether the lack of demand is from Government bodies alone, but the industry media consensus at present very much suggests this applies right across the board irrespective of whether they are private or public bodies.
  • Over a third of those attempting to implement the process of BIM are not clear on what they have to do to comply with the BIM mandate. One issue came up repeatedly: clients are not sufficiently educated to allow the BIM mandate to flourish fully. This is not just among clients commissioning smaller works; it is among government departments too.

Nevertheless, positives can be gleaned from the study to suggest the mandate is heading in the right direction:

  • BIM adoption has reached a high point this year. This suggests the efficiency gains in productivity, accuracy and stakeholder/project team engagement for consultants and the supply chain are becoming clearer for all to see.
  • 70% of respondents feel that BIM will help bring cost reduction in the design build and maintain life cycle. Sixty per cent see that BIM will help bring programme efficiencies, reducing time from inception to completion.
  • BIM awareness stands at 97%, with 62% of practices now actually using BIM on some of their projects, up from 8% from last year. It should be noted that interpretations of what exactly defines BIM is not at all common/consistent across the industry at present. I’d imagine that some of respondents in this 97% consider using BIM authoring software in isolation as being sufficient.
  • BIM maturity (Confidence levels): a majority of respondents describe themselves as confident in BIM. Fifty-five per cent being confident and 23% are not.
  • Seventy per cent responded that they had reached Level 2; this is the mandated level in which 3D models are created and collaborated on through, for example, a federated BIM model. As per comments above, this figure is debatable in the absence of an assessment against full BIM Level 2 compliance.

Judging by some of the results emerging from this survey, the transition to BIM Level 2 will likely take place in a more ad hoc and piecemeal/learning-on-the-go fashion in the short-term. Adoption across the industry and Clients especially appears not as structured as the government and industry BIM protagonists would like. The confusion surrounding what BIM Level 2 compliance requires may be in part to do with the vast amount of documentation associated with achieving compliance and it requires those who are (or willing to be) specialists in Information Management to champion it forcefully right from the top to bottom(vice-versa) of organisations. Simply put, it could be argued that a lot of consultants and client representatives alike are not particularly enthused with the idea of taking on the information management (PIM & TIM) roles associated with the process; not to mention the time and costs associated with adoption whilst attempting to deliver a live project.

This is reasoning may be emphasised by the survey results showing 75% of respondents replied that they were learning about BIM adoption and implementation mostly from their colleagues and therefore not relying on published standards and specifications.

To conclude, adopting BIM Level 2 standards clearly is not easy. It involves changing workflow methods and procedures and a adopting a collaborative project culture. However, those that have taken on the challenge have found it to be beneficial and the survey suggest only 4% of respondents wished they hadn’t started the process of transition towards a fully BIM compliant workflow. I do believe that questions need to be asked, now more than ever, on how to make BIM Level 2 compliance more ‘user friendly’ for both consultants and client bodies alike, so the industry can deliver the truly collaborative, efficient process and end-user benefits intended.

For access to the full survey report please click here – NBS BIM Survey 2017

Lanre Gbolade, @LGboladeBIM Enthusiast, Architect & Design Management Professional


Ecobuild 2017: All about Offsite…


Ecobuild 2017

So its the week after the week after Ecobuild 2017. If you happened to be ‘offsite’ for a couple of days and in attendance at Excel then you’ll no doubt be still filled to the brim with MMC and Offsite construction knowledge and know your wall SIPs from your floor VIPs! Or maybe it’s wearing off already?

I had the pleasure of attending the first day and sat in on the ‘UK-GBC: Ready for the future? What’s next for sustainable housing’ seminar chaired by Julie Hirigoyen.

The discussion kicked off with a lively introduction from Berkeley’s very own Tony Pidgely having a little, but direct prod at the Planning Systems’ tighntnening grip on development flexibility. He also found the time to point out some of the great work his company have done and are doing in championing the need for sustainability at the heart of place-making. Take a look at their Royal Arsenal Riverside Development: Royal Arsenal

Bevan Jones from Sustainable Homes shared some positive insights to what they are doing alongside Housing Associations and Developers to develop truly sustainable ways of developing and occupying homes – Sustainable Homes

Legal & General’s Dan Batterton brought the Insurers ambitions to the table with a passionate pitch on how they intend to deliver 3000 Build-to-Rent homes per year out of their Offsite manufacturing factory in Yorkshire! Imagine that, an Insurance specialist leading the way on Offsite Manufacturing! – L & G Homes

All-in-all,  take away thoughts on drivers for an upward Offsite trajectory in the UK from Day 1 were:

  • The industry needs to get the next generation excited about combining construction and digital manufacturing! – See ISG’s WOWEX initiative for a starter..
  • Encourage innovation and collaboration across all disciplines and business sectors; from SME Manufacturers, to Developers, Architects, Engineers and Local Authorities – through top-down leadership and bottom-up responsibility and empowerment?.
  • Balance the need for Offsite with acceptance that traditional build still has a part to play. It is unreasonable to expect a sudden shift (both culturally and practically) right across the industry; especially one as slow moving as construction.
  • A re-focus on Sustainability and the inherent benefits of MMC/offsite construction has to offer.

For those lucky enough to have been at MIPIM Cannes last week, please feel free to share your thoughts on the hot topics coming out!

Finally, in case you were wondering- SIPs are Structural Insulated Panels. VIPs on the other hand are floor Vacuum Insulated Panels, typically used for residential retrofits.

If you wanted to keep update with last blogposts, just sign up!

Until the next time…..

MMC and Off-Site Construction

Construction, Design, Sustainability

Modern Methods of Construction is an evolving process in the delivery of buildings, through efficiency gains in time, materials and cost. There are also significant gains to made in Health & Safety and quality of finished elements.

A key point to note about MMC is that the various methods employed will generally all encompass an element of off-site manufacturing; that is construction activities of buildings being assembled under cover, finished and tested prior to being installed on site.

Advantages and points to note on MMC:

1. On-site building erection times are generally quicker, along with a watertight enclosure achieved
2. With the construction and assembly of components in a factory, a superior finish can be achieved through quality control measures not subject to the challenges of the weather. This is still dependent on the quality of machinery and/or the trained contractors operating them.
3. From a sustainability and social perspective, MMC brings many benefits including reduced wastage of materials through precision quantity measurements, reduced delivery movements and energy used on site. For the labour force there is a significant benefit of improved working environments under cover, with closer quality control measures, especially in climates similar to the UK’s or colder. All weather working can have the impact of improving health & safety records in the construction workplace, as RIDDOR incidents can be significantly reduced. The process of inspecting and snagging defects is also made more consistent under cover.
4. On site, successful MMC delivery requires accurately managed & setting out of foundations and structural members to accommodate the precision engineered elements that will be situated on them and have probably already been manufactured before the concrete has set!
5. MMC will typically require an advanced level of design detail and construction logistics planning prior to a start-on-site. Space requirements need to be considered access for large pre-fabricated or modular elements, as well their potential storage. With regards to design, there’s little room for on-site design changes as is very common with traditional construction methods.
6. Use of BIM technology is synonymous with MMC, as all the components needed to construction building elements can be precision modelled and tested in 3D, scheduled, costed and interrogated endlessly prior to commuting to design freeze and manufacture.

A future blog will delve into the various types of MMC. Watch this blogspace for more info….

Image credits:

BIM for Clients: Part 2


The previous blog set the scheme for some of the reasons for slow residential client BIM uptake to the present day. I’m following on with part deux, which looks at the ingredients for successful implementation to take place.

My experiences to date would suggest there needs to be :

• Directorate/Leadership buy-in and promotion of BIM right through the business. It could be strongly argued this is more pressing with BIM than the implementation of other organisational/departmental change management processes because BIM really is fully impacting across all areas of the business (if implemented correctly). This starts right from Project Strategy/inception (Land acquisition) through to Operation and potential refurbishment => Whole Lifecycle Project Management.

Departmental BIM Champions and strategists are required with the commitment and knowledge to see BIM and a culture change implemented. This may be a combination of external consultants supporting the business’ own staff or entirely one or the other.

• Dedicated BIM Champions from each workstream of the business who regularly meet and relay/champion the impacts on day-to-day business of BIM implementation to the leadership.

The PAS1192-2:2013 (Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using Building Information Modelling) and CIC BIM Protocol are readily available to assist with understanding the management and legal frameworks for delivering BIM Level 2 compliant projects. Whilst the PAS may seem an intensive read for those just getting to grips with BIM, it does cover all the areas of information delivery that will need to be given due consideration.

• Formulation of a clear, succinct and all encompassing EIR (Employers Information Requirements) document. This key question needs to be asked – What does the business actually expect/want from the BIM process? For some residential clients, answering this question will involve assessing the current use of their assets (especially important if the client uses a Design>Build>Operate business model); for others, if starting from scratch, it will involve analysing what is desired from BIM to benefit each workstream within the organisation currently.

The BIM Task Group EIR guidance document provides a useful starting point: EIR Guidance Document

The EIRs will set the basis for the BIM Execution Plan that all consultants and contractors submit pre-contract to demonstrate their capabilities. This goes on to inform the overarching MIDP (Master Information Delivery Plan) for a project.

• A focus on the BIM training requirements for residential clients’ project team personnel. This needs to happen not just to bring personnel up to speed with BIM industry standards but to also keep them updated. Whilst there is a burgeoning volume of information and training courses being offered to individuals and companies regarding BIM adoption, there needs to be an acute appreciation by the BIM leaders of the specific requirements for those operating from the client-side who have very different needs to those of consultants and contractors who actually design and deliver information.

For example, spending time and financial resources training commercial/construction management members of staff on how to use BIM authoring software may not be wholly worthwhile against developing their knowledge on the capabilities of associated BIM reviewing/coordination software to deliver information that can be extracted and input into their day-to-day management processes.

Critically, a bold starting step to test the waters with BIM is required from those who still need convincing about its merits. Whilst achieving BIM Level 2 standards may not be necessary (yet) or achievable immediately for many residential clients, I firmly believe that BIM has the potential to deliver the raft of benefits associated with its implementation. One could argue that this is even more pronounced in the context of residential development. The standardised (and sometimes repetitive) nature of details and products re-used across multiple projects offers serial developers the opportunity to refine and streamline their management processes to achieve maximum operational effectiveness.

BIM for Clients: part 1…

Construction, Design, Uncategorized

As those of you with a keen eye on industry movements will have seen, BIM has come to the fore of the industry over the last 5 years since the Government’s mandate to deliver all centrally procured construction projects to BIM Level 2 from 1st April 2016.

Well that date has come and gone, and with the recent transition into 2017, the general consensus from media forums and personal participation in industry events indicates a better appreciation of the benefits of BIM from the construction industry as a whole since the government drive towards BIM was announced. However there still seems to be some uncertainty and a lack of interest from residential client developers to capture the significant benefits that BIM adoption has to offer their businesses. This blogpost is part 1 of 2 which focuses on some of the barriers to Client-side BIM adoption.

Having worked in both architectural practices and for one of the South East’s leading residential developers since the turn of the decade, I’ve been able to witness the growth in awareness of BIM utilisation on the consultant side and draw attention to the need for its adoption within the client design management team processes.

My personal experiences seem to suggest a number of key barriers to BIM adoption exist within residential developer organisations:

1 – The perceived enormous costs & time associated with implementation. Like any investment, you need to put something in to get something out, but this need not be an expensive process. The upfront capital investment required to implement procedures and processes, as well as the acquisition of soft&hardware can be challenging for SMEs especially. However, what needs to be demonstrated to SMEs more succinctly is the value added, and return on investment through BIM adoption, to make the case for it unquestionable.

2 – The belief that ”we’ve been designing & constructing buildings for many years without BIM, so why change now”. Yes, believe it or not, this is the view held by some industry representatives. These protagonists view BIM as a problem, as disruptive and in some cases a barrier to ‘just getting the work done’. Well personally, I couldn’t agree less. The BIM process is designed to be collaborative, deliver efficiencies, truly coordinated buildings / spaces and coordinated asset management information.

3 – A perception that BIM is a modelling tool only for consultants and contractors. This perception probably comes from a misunderstanding generally within the industry that BIM is primarily useful for visualisation purposes, rather than appreciating what it really is; a process of collaborative project information management. Clients actually have a very important part to play in the uptake of BIM across the industry, as they almost always have the authority to set the project brief with BIM at its core, and are ultimately the ones paying for the service delivered by the process of project information management. Would it be fair to say that the more clients are willing to invest (not merely financially) in BIM, the more motivation their supply chain will have in delivering it? In some ways, yes, but equally can the supply chain play its part by looking inward and seeing what it can do to deliver more internal business efficiencies, coordinated design and construction services to the client through BIM adoption? It’d be good to have your thoughts…

4 – A lack of certainty from all participants to the process of BIM regarding their role in the process. To a degree this is still understandable, as the industry continues to acquire knowledge and insight from each project delivered through BIM.

BIM for Clients: Part 2 looks at the ingredients needed for client-side BIM uptake. Watch this space for it…

So what (really) is BIM?


There are many definitions and interpretations of what BIM is (and isn’t) out there in the digisphere. A widely referenced definition, in the UK, comes from the CPIC which defines it as ‘a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A Building Information Model is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition’.

The problem with this definition is that it focuses very much on the digital model representation of a facility. Consequently I find that many people who are model creaters in their line of work often find it difficult to move past the idea of BIM just being for designers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For me, I see Building Information Modelling as being is all about process. In its simplest sense it is a process of digital information management to assist businesses make informed decisions through every stage of asset development to management and eventual disposal. You could argue that BIM really should be PIM – Project Information Management, as it really centers on the production, coordination and management of project information that is comes out of the collaborative building information model process.

Every member or stakeholder involved in the process of development of a physical asset can contribute to BIM, right from land surveyors to facility managers and everyone in between.

Welcome to the GreenBIM spot blog


Welcome to the blog. I’ve started this as means of engagement and discussion with with the construction industry, focusing on BIM, MMC, and sustainable methods of design and construction. I believe these all go hand in hand and will use this blog to provide commentary on them individually or intertwined. No doubt I’ll also stray off course every now and again as I’m equally passionate about all things architecture, property development and entrepreneurism related.

So where to start to start….? Well BIM of course! After all, with the 4th April 2016 BIM Level 2 government mandate fast pproaching, it’d be rude not to.

Whilst BIM may have floating around in the industry for a little while now, but I’m still not going to assume anyone reading this is up to date on the the basics of BIM so I’ll try and summarise the introductory level what/why/how of BIM over the first few blogs and work onwards and upwards from there!

Hope you finding this engaging and if you have any questions feel free to contact me on LinkedIn.