Frances Traynor's picture

3D printed homes and robot bricklayers lead innovation in UK housebuilding

Wed, 14 Feb 2018

This article refers to a recent Home Buyers Survey.

Robot bricklayers and 3D printed homes are just some of the innovative building techniques being adopted by Britain’s housebuilders.

In its third annual Housebuilding Report, Lloyds Bank asked building companies what modern methods of construction (MMC) they are using or investing in to improve the supply, quality and affordability of new homes. The new techniques could also boost productivity and profitability.

The builders also said they are more aware of sustainability in the types of construction and materials they are now using – 82 percent of report participants said they are more focused on sustainability than they were five years ago.

The report revealed that current developments focus on building as much as possible, even entire homes, off-site that can then be delivered for assembly. But the more futuristic solutions are no longer simply on the horizon but ready to be rolled out, including robot bricklayers that are digitally controlled to build walls and 3D printed homes that will cut construction time and costs.

Time to build can be slashed

Modular housing is the most popular new system being implemented with 68 percent of companies who participated in the report saying they use this prefabricated method of construction. Modular houses are generally manufactured off site and assembled on site, cutting the time to build by up to 50 percent. This type of build is known as site-based MMC.

Other types of site-based MMC being used are panelised systems – where floor, wall and roof panels are manufactured elsewhere and delivered to site for assembly – sub-assemblies and pods where external walls and roofs are finished off-site and completed on site.

Confronting construction challenge

According to the Lloyds report, companies of all sizes are investing in these new techniques, with investment set to grown from the current 20 percent of annual turnover to 24 percent.

David Cleary, regional director and national head of housebuilding at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It is reassuring to see the sector confronting challenges head on by investing and planning for business growth, prioritising staff training and looking at more innovative new building techniques. This has the potential to boost productive and, more importantly, increase the pipeline of new homes that the nation badly needs.”

Click for more information, or to arrange a HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey.