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How Modern Methods of Construction Help Tackle the Residential Housing Shortages in the UK


In the United Kingdom, the housing crisis is not merely a result of a shortage of houses but also a lack of affordable housing. The housing issue is worse in England, which is part of the United Kingdom. According to research, the South East and London housing supply is severely depleted. Because of this, new home construction has repeatedly fallen short of annual demand forecasts. Between 240,000 and 280,000 units of extra housing are needed each year, according to a House of Commons research issued in 2016 (Shibani et al.,2021).

London’s annual demand for housing has been projected to reach more than 60,000 units, whilst the yearly output has ranged between 15,000 and 18,000 units in the last several years. In contrast, throughout the preceding five years, England’s housing creation has averaged between 100,000 and 125,000 houses every year. Consequently, the annual housing supply in the United Kingdom barely matches half of the demand for new dwellings. Furthermore, both overcrowding and under-occupancy of rental units have risen in lockstep during the last several years. Among the many problems caused by difficulties related to access, quantity, quality, and distribution is the current housing crisis in the United Kingdom, including inadequate supply, unaffordability, undersupply, and underutilisation of existing housing stock. It is estimated that the United Kingdom should build around 250,000 homes per year to keep up with and fulfil the rising demand for housing. In addition, the government should be constructing approximately 300,000 homes a year to solve the scarcity of housing, which is driving up property prices.

Suppose you take the term “modern” literally. In that case, it means “a departure from previous patterns or ideas,” and this attitude that the housing industry must completely embrace to solve the housing shortage. To close the housing gap, the UK needs to build an extra 120,000 houses per year, but standard construction techniques will not be able to fulfil this goal. Building offsite might assist the construction industry address some of its current problems, such as a lack of skilled workers, an older workforce, low productivity and production, and a shortage of supplies. On the other hand, Offsite building might help the sector produce new, inexpensive houses in the needed numbers while maintaining high quality and energy efficiency standards.

The construction sector will need to expand at a quicker rate to increase the number of new homes available. According to a Mintel research of the construction sector published in 2019, the government’s housing targets are being missed due to a shortage of readily available industrial capacity (Oliveira et al.,2017). The offsite building can quickly produce large numbers of build systems that meet stringent specifications, which may help to address this particular problem. A typical four-bedroom detached house can be constructed in as little as five days when offsite construction is combined with a construction technique such as wood framing, which results in a high-quality, high-performance timber frame ready to be moved on-site after the foundation has been laid. Offsite construction and using a wood frame enable the completion of ten terraced-house blocks in five weeks less time than would be required using typical on-site techniques.

Offsite wood frame manufacture guarantees that high quality and consistent performance indicators are reached constantly, which is essential in the construction industry. The ability to cooperate with construction companies and builders is available from the beginning of the design process to the final stages of development, manufacturing, supply, and fitting. This collaborative approach is critical for achieving cost savings in building dwellings, as previously stated. When it comes to any intense, large-scale building project, offsite construction has the potential to drastically cut labour and material costs. However, it is not always the most cost-effective alternative. On-site supervision and trade skills are less heavily emphasised, and big buildings are built more swiftly, reducing the time needed by management to supervise and coordinate on-site crafts. The shorter construction period, which results in a faster return on investment, allows for a reduction in site preparation costs of up to 30%.

The use of offsite construction and wood framing ensures that sustainability is considered at every stage of the design and manufacturing processes. By 2025, it is expected that the government will implement a Future Homes Standard, which will ensure that new homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heat and electricity and global energy efficiency standards. Many of the answers to the housing issue may be found in offsite construction and wood framing, but collaboration within the industry is essential. Offsite building and the utilisation of other contemporary construction technologies, such as digital working and lean site assembly, might lead to high-quality homes that are the same price or less costly than conventional housing.

Aims and Objectives


To offer insight into how the residential housing shortage in the UK can be improved through the help of Modern Methods of Construction.


  1. To investigate why there is a residential housing shortage in the UK.
  2. To explore how modern construction methods will impact the housing shortage in the UK.
  3. To evaluate why modern construction methods could be the solution to the housing crisis in the UK.


This research aims to determine whether or not Modern Methods Construction can provide a solution to the housing issue in the United Kingdom. There has been significant growth in the population in the United Kingdom compared to 10 years ago, producing more significant problems for the country’s citizens. As a social norm and as a rule of legislation in the nation, everyone has the right to meet their fundamental needs. When it comes to the most fundamental necessities of humanity, the need for shelter is the most important issue to consider.

The number of new residential constructions is much lower than the number of new residential structures required annually. Alternative building techniques should be studied in preference to conventional ways of construction to address the housing crisis with contemporary construction methods since the housing scarcity in the United Kingdom is a significant source of concern for the nation. ‘The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model’ (Farmer, 2016, p.12) mentions that modern methods “reduce the level of on-site labour,” which supports the point that modern methods must be integrated; a reduction in labour costs would ultimately result in a reduction in cost, which would be appealing to any project, regardless of its size. ‘Good effort has been made to promote the necessity of a contemporary, pre-manufacture driven industry and has made substantial inroads into the fundability / warranting of offsite construction,’ according to Farmer, M. (2016). This indicates that there has already been development in the building sector in pushing contemporary ways. The presence of interested individuals indicates that the industry is developing and moving away from the previously known old construction methods.


With current approaches, sustainability is a critical challenge that the UK, like other projects worldwide, is dealing with. As a result, sustainable approaches must be addressed while addressing this deficit. The housing crisis in the United Kingdom is becoming more severe by the day, resulting in many challenges for residents. According to the House of Commons research, the annual housing demand in 2016 was between 240,000 and 280,000 units, while the average annual output was 100,000 to 125,000 units, which is less than half of the needed supply (Shibani et al., 2021). New methods for expediting the construction process while incorporating environmentally friendly building practices must be developed to resolve this. This challenge, in my opinion, is best addressed via the use of prefabrication and 3D printing technologies. Different unit designs may increase the overall cost of the project. The cost may be reduced while the quality is enhanced if the same design is utilised repeatedly in a controlled environment.

Environmental, economic, and social sustainability go under one umbrella term known as “sustainability.” The building should be a better place to live today and in the near future if it adheres to the sustainability principle. For this reason, it should be built in a safe way for its users while also being kind to the environment. According to the United Nations Development Program, addressing the housing crisis requires considering the aesthetics of a building and its functionality, such as the efficiency of its windows, ventilation, and lighting systems (Mulliner et al., 2013).

Research and Analysis


Prefabricated construction is a way of constructing various structural components at a manufacturing facility and transporting those sub-assemblies to building sites, also known as an offsite assembly. A prefabricated structure is sometimes viewed as a low-cost, mass-produced option when it comes to construction. In truth, however, the situation is radically different from what is said. In recent years, prefabricated buildings have become more common, their quality has improved, and they are now available at various pricing ranges. Despite the negative connotations associated with prefabrication, there are some benefits to using this type of construction.

The energy economy and long-term reliability of modular construction are often lauded. There is a lot of waste because of the usage of more materials in traditional construction processes. The factory-built subassemblies allow for the recycling of excess materials inside the company. This new method has replaced the traditional method of moving waste from a construction site to a landfill (Yang et al., 2005). As an added benefit, a factory’s controlled environment enables more accurate construction with tighter joints and better air filtering, all of which improve wall insulation and energy efficiency.

Advantages of the Prefabrication Method

The prefabricated structure has several benefits, including lower construction costs. It may seem that custom-made items are costlier. However, this is not always the case in most circumstances. It is possible to tailor modular construction to fit a wide range of budgets and price points, making it a viable option in a wide variety of settings. Building consumers benefit from decreased construction prices because wholesale material suppliers often offer prefabrication producers discounts. Modular construction also removes the possibility of dealing with untrustworthy contractors or underperforming personnel. Furthermore, the reduction in construction time may result in a decrease in construction financing costs.

Modular structures can be dismantled and relocated for a fraction of the cost of traditional buildings. As a result, fewer raw materials are used, less energy is consumed, and more time is saved. The structure’s design flexibility is increased because of the almost infinite number of alternative configurations made available by modular construction. It is possible to employ prefabricated building components in practically any architectural style since they may be used in various contexts.

The subassemblies of the structure will be of consistent quality since prefabricated construction happens in a controlled production environment and follows specified criteria. Building structures on construction sites rely on independent contractors’ competence and the punctuality with which they do their tasks. All of these factors add to the construction’s overall quality and workmanship. Each sub-assembly is prefabricated in a weather-resistant facility by a highly competent staff, with multiple quality checks performed throughout the process to guarantee optimal dependability. Several components of the structure are created using ultra-precision equipment to ensure that the structure is built in line with building rules.

A project’s final construction site is less congested since many of its components are manufactured in the factory, reducing truck traffic and the need for equipment and material providers. Because of this, workers are less likely to be disrupted by noise, pollution, trash, and other frequent workplace annoyances. For everyone participating in a building project, this simplified construction method creates a considerably more productive environment by reducing unnecessary distractions and interference.

Building on-site takes much longer to complete than construction on-site using prefabricated components. The time required for prefabrication is often less than half that conventional construction requires. Faster fabrication may be attributed to more comprehensive planning, the elimination of on-site weather conditions, the elimination of subcontractor scheduling delays, and the capacity to create several components simultaneously. Constructing companies may take on many projects simultaneously and do it in a way that helps them succeed rather than limiting their focus and resources to just a few projects at a time.

In factories, subassemblies are made using only dry components, reducing the possibility of contamination from moisture and other environmental factors. Construction workers and individuals who will ultimately reside in the building under construction are less likely to suffer from weather-related health issues due to this. It’s also far less dangerous to work inside a structure than outdoors, both in terms of accidents and other liabilities. Employees are protected against workplace injuries and diseases in the manufacturing industry because laws and procedures are strictly followed. A construction site’s workers are exposed to weather-related elements such as altering ground conditions and wind and the presence of other members of the construction crew.

Disadvantages of the Prefabrication Method

Prefabrication methods are needed at the company level to enable continuous manufacturing, notwithstanding the need for other supply elements. This includes a steady supply of raw materials, a steady supply of labour, a steady supply of machinery at affordable prices and the availability of money at favourable interest rates, and other infrastructural institutions to support mass production, among other requirements. Technology and automation have resulted in standardised things at affordable prices or expenditures in developed countries like the United Kingdom, which may urge buyers to pick prefabricated houses as an alternative. Increasing productivity, reducing labour intensity, and raising overall quality are possible outcomes of using mechanical equipment in prefabrication construction and assembly processes (Shibani et al., 2021). Machines can speed up and improve the efficiency of site operations, including concrete and mortar mixing, vibration and compaction, transportation, and plastering. Machines can make these tasks more accurate and efficient.

Personal Reflection on Prefabrication Method

Since prefabrication is in a position to provide quality housing at affordable prices, it could be a viable option for ending the housing crisis in the UK. The main reason for the housing crisis in the country is that the demand is too high for the supply, which results in a surge in prices. This then leads to poor homelessness and poor quality houses. With fabrication, however, the construction time is relatively lower than when using the traditional means since prefabrication adopts offsite construction. This implies that the gap between the demand and the supply for housing will be reduced, thereby reducing the housing crisis in the country since quality housing will be available at affordable prices.

3D Printing Analysis

It is possible to manufacture three-dimensional (3D) items from a digital file by piling them on top of each other using additive construction technology, known as three-dimensional (3D) printing. Compared to traditional building technologies, 3D-printed construction must be competitive and helpful to and useable by its end-users to be regarded as a long-term viable building method. This multidisciplinary approach involves the areas of materials science, architecture, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, and software engineering, among others.

Concreting the world’s buildings has been a common practice due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to be shaped into practically any shape. It’s also the greenest building material on the market. For the same reasons, concrete is the most often used material in 3D-printed buildings, and its cheap cost makes it an excellent option for printing in rural areas. As opposed to conventional and self-compacting concrete, 3D-printable concrete has unique material characteristics and requirements that need active, reliable rheology control for successful 3D printing applications. The material compatibility of 3D-printed building technology is thus critical in deciding whether or not it will be accepted and employed in remote areas. All of these factors, the limited choice of already printable materials, and the need to develop and standardise new materials pose significant barriers to the widespread usage of 3D-printed structures. This is especially true in rural areas where it is challenging to maintain material control.

Because 3D-printed structures allow for greater geometric complexity and flexibility, they have the potential to revolutionise the way architects and engineers design and construct buildings. Structures with more structural complexity may be built that are lighter, more powerful, and more efficient, and hollow structures that are just as strong as their solid counterparts but are much lighter. The mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of 3D-printed components are superior to those of cast components, but their strength is the same. Structures may be optimised structurally using BIM and 3D printing instead of being standardised for ease of design and construction as is customary in a traditional building. Components are designed and manufactured according to the loads they must withstand. The lack of norms and standards, automating structural reinforcements, and maximising structural performance are all issues that must be addressed when using 3D printing in structural design.

A construction project’s time restrictions may significantly impact choices about scope, manpower, and cost. Work standardisation, continuous process improvement, and 3D printing can help streamline the construction process and eliminate inefficiencies. Since 3D printing allows for faster, better-quality construction, this might be an advantage of the technology. In contrast to manual construction, automated construction can print continuously without pausing to enable the concrete to cure or the workers to relax, resulting in reduced downtime. The building of a 200 square meter house using 3D-printed components was shown to be nearly three times faster than using traditional procedures in one study. The formwork was removed (estimate: 3 days to make and remove), and the drying period was shortened, which contributed significantly to the decrease in overall time (estimate: 4 or 5 days). Design time can be reduced by up to 60% using 3D printing, and Lean construction concepts such as work standardisation and continuous process improvement can be used to improve efficiency. This ability to create structures quickly may be crucial in remote places where housing demands must be met, natural calamities must be dealt with, or a military station must be constructed in short order.

Advantages of 3 D-Printed Constructions

When it comes to 3D-printed construction, one of the most apparent advantages is enhanced process automation, which decreases the need for construction employees and the possibility of better quality control and uniformity. Process automation has the potential to have both beneficial and bad implications, such as lower workplace danger, reduced labour shortages, fewer human mistakes, and increased dependency between people and machines, among other things. On the other hand, process automation may be counterproductive in rural regions where the local economy is built on traditional construction labour, as has been shown.

3D-printed construction might make construction logistics and administration easier to manage. Shortening the supply chain by lowering lead times for materials and equipment and manufacturing periods for the components and structures that emerge from the printing process is a possible benefit of 3D printing construction. 3D-printed structures, like traditional ones, try to employ locally obtained or in-situ materials wherever possible and available when they are constructed. To reduce, if not eliminate, the requirement to keep and maintain massive material stockpiles in distant and difficult-to-reach locations when local resources are utilised, transportation logistics to these locations are limited.

According to the World Resources Institute, the construction sector is responsible for 40 percent of worldwide material resource use, 40 percent of global energy consumption, 38 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 40 percent of global solid waste creation. As an example, owing to the energy-intensive process necessary to produce the cement used in concrete manufacturing, the making of concrete accounts for about 8% of global CO2 emissions (Wu et al.,2016). As a result, the development of low-cost, ecologically friendly, and recyclable construction components is becoming an increasingly critical need. 3D-printed structures have the potential to reduce material use, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation during the duration of their useful lives, as well as their environmental impact. According to experts, 3D-printed construction can minimise environmental impact by as much as 50 percent when compared to traditional building processes. While the printing process has a modest environmental effect compared to the materials manufacturing process, it does have an environmental impact. With 3D printing and BIM, it is possible to prevent over-design and ensure that only the necessary concrete and reinforcement are used, while these customised, optimum designs may be realised. With its additive process that only uses the exact quantity of material needed, the 3D-printed building also reduces waste by using less of both components and the supporting formwork. There are various disadvantages of removing formwork, which must be evaluated against the benefits to the environment. Strength, ease of use, precision, and surface quality are all compromised due to these flaws. Another benefit of 3D printing is that it may cut overall costs and improve the cost-effectiveness of various building methods. It was determined that 3D-printed construction was between 10 and 25 percent less expensive than concrete masonry units and between 25 and 37 percent less expensive than cast-in-place construction. In low-income or undeveloped countries, cost-effective building technologies have the potential to alter whole neighbourhoods and communities.

Removing the requirement for formwork is one of the economic advantages of 3D printing buildings. Scaffolding, concrete molds, and their labour may account for 35–60 percent of overall building costs. 3D printing construction has the potential to save a large amount of money. Removing the requirement for formwork may save you both time and money by bypassing a stage and expediting the building process. Optimising the design to prevent over-engineering and waste, using locally produced, in-situ or recycled materials and avoiding the requirement for material transportation and storage, among other measures, may help lower the cost of materials. Admixtures may be essential to manage rheology and improve printability, although this might raise the cost of materials.

Disadvantages of the 3-D Method

Labour costs may be excessively expensive, accounting for up to 50% of the overall cost of a building project in certain instances. In contrast to traditional building, where labour costs are often greater than material prices, 3D-printed construction has labour costs that are less than half of the cost of the materials used in production. Aside from the lower overhead expenses connected with 3D-printed structures, there are other advantages to 3D-printed buildings over traditional construction, including greater output and fewer mistakes. It is anticipated that increased usage of 3D modelling, building information modelling, and other technologies would lower the costs involved with construction planning and design in the future. Because digital data may be reused in large-scale implementations such as mass-produced housing or military barracks, it can reduce planning costs to zero compared to traditional building approaches. These benefits will become even more apparent.

Personal Reflection on the 3D Method

From the data on 3D printed housing, it is clear that adopting this type of technology can help reduce the housing crisis in the UK since it is suitable for constructing a large number of quality houses at a faster rate in remote areas. This technology also adopts low construction costs by limiting the capital used for labour and materials since it is automated and uses locally available raw materials. This reduced capital for construction then reflects on the rent for the houses constructed, which will be lower compared to the houses constructed using the traditional methods.

Critical Thinking and Analysis

The 3D Modern methods of construction can be the solution to house crisis in UK since they are generally efficient and the speed of constructing new houses is high as compared with the traditional methods of construction which are generally slow. For the UK to achieve its target of constructing 300,000 houses every year, they have to adopt this method. They ensure that modern houses are constructed more efficiently while at the same time maintaining the originality. However, according to (Wu et al., 2021) 3D modern method of construction has got high initial cost especially in acquisition of the required machines since specialised equipment are required. In addition, transportation of materials in multiple is needed in 3D modern method of construction. Modern methods of construction hold the future since they are better in every aspect when compared with traditional methods of construction.


The fundamental cause of the UK housing problem is a lack of home supply to satisfy demand. This is due to the high population growth rate caused by a high immigration rate. The adoption of conventional building techniques has resulted in a home supply shortage in the nation, which has led to high housing prices. Adopting modern methods of construction such as prefabrication and 3D printing, on the other hand, will result in a reduction in the crisis because, as evidenced by data from research and analysis, modern methods of construction ensure that houses are constructed in a shorter period, at a lower cost, and are sustainable while maintaining the original quality.


Farmer, M., 2016. The Farmer Review of The UK Construction Labour Model. pp. 14-23.

Mulliner, E., Smallbone, K. & Maliene, V., 2013. An assessment of sustainable housing affordability using a multiple criteria decision-making method. Omega, Volume 41, pp. 270-279.

Oliveira, S., Burch, J., Hutchison, K., Adekola, O., Jaradat, S. and Jones, M., 2017. MMC modes of delivery in housing: Effects on Housing Association clients.

Shibani, A., Agha, A., Alharasi,, T. & Hassan, D., 2021. Prefabrication as a Solution for Tackling the Building Crisis in the UK. Journal of Civil Engineering Research, 11(1), pp. 10-18.

Wu, P., Wang, J. & Wang, X., 2016. A critical review of the use of 3-D printing in the construction industry. Automation in Construction, Volume 68, pp. 21-31.

Yang, J., Brandon, P. S. & Sidwell, A. C., 2005. Smart and sustainable built environment. s.l.:Blackwell publishing.


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