Offsite or traditional? Whereﾒs the line?
Many of our customers may have been surprised to see the announcement this week that H+H has been shortlisted in the Offsite Awards. Aircrete? Offsite?
For the record, H+H is a big supporter of traditional methods. Aircrete blocks remain the first choice for the majority of housebuilders in the UK and for good reason. The attributes of masonry construction are well known and much appreciated: thermally efficient, familiar and lightweight to use; robust and resistant to noise. Most appealing of all is the proven durability of a material that will last a lifetime.
As a company we are confident that aircrete will remain the first choice for new housebuilding, and the fact that we are about to embark on a multi-million pound investment in our block-making plant reflects that confidence.
Traditional brick and block construction is here to stay despite successive governments attempting to promote deeply alien offsite manufacturing processes. The number of failed prefabrication projects over the years demonstrates how no amount of government pressure will alter the preferences of a deeply conservative industry.
My own view is that it is not up to governments to dictate how housebuilders operate: commercial organisations will choose the methods that work for their business model. Right now that means a focus on some big challenges that need addressing with creative thinking.
Demand for new housing remains strong and is top of the agenda for all political parties. With a shortage of skilled labour and question marks over the quality of site work we need to find new solutions.
What that does not mean is a straightforward choice between offsite or traditional. In between the two extremes is a fascinating realm of innovative products and techniques designed to embrace the benefits of offsite manufacture while avoiding some of the pitfalls.
And it is in this middle path that the SIG I-House System incorporating Celcon Elements sits. Our storey-high aircrete panels form the bedrock of this system. When combined with prefabricated floors and roofs and wrapped in insulation, the I-House System can deliver a complete structure on site within a week.
The speed of build and the removal of bricklaying from the critical path of the build process makes the offer immediately attractive. Factor in the contribution of a specialist contractor taking responsibility for the entire build and it’s easy to see why there is huge interest in the initial projects under construction.
Is it offsite or traditional build? Familiar material, familiar processes and tried-and-tested performance - but delivered with huge helping of offsite manufacture to speed up the process. Offsite or traditional? It’s up to you. We just see it as a great new addition to our portfolio.