Brian Ham
Executive Director of Development - Home Group

The Government’s mission to fix the “broken housing market” and build 300,000 homes a year is ambitious. The construction industry faces a real a skills shortage leaving many house builders turning to more innovative ways of building good quality homes that people can feel proud to live in.
This is where Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) comes into play. MMC has come a long way from the post war ‘pre-fabs’. Think less the system build tower bocks of the 60’s and more the world class builds like the Pompidou Centre in Paris or the Lloyds Building in the center of the City of London.
Sadly not everyone thinks this way. In research recently conducted by YouGov on behalf of Home Group, 41% of respondents felt that modular homes were less durable than traditional builds. Of course we disagree. We believe building modular homes offers a good solution to the current housing crisis because, in our view, they’re better in terms of efficiency, quality, value, health and safety and choice.
Our survey respondents disagree with 52% of them saying they wouldn’t choose to live in a modular home. Why is this? The research suggests the answer appears to be based on perception, rather than reality. Almost 90% of respondents failed to recognise a modular home, and over 70% identified shipping container homes as modular homes. So why would the public associate quality and durability with modular homes if they’re responding to an image in their minds of a basic shipping container?
This is the challenge we face, changing perceptions by showing the public that our modular homes are high quality. Gateshead Innovation Village will do just that. This is a live research project that will see Home Group and ENGIE work with a range of MMC manufacturers and smart tech providers to monitor efficiency, quality and durability.
The project, in partnership with Homes England has just started, with the first complete modular homes expected on site during the summer and tenants expected to move in around November. Overall, the site will see 41 new homes of various types come together to build a new community.
As part of this development, we’re inviting the wider public to go behind the factory doors and see what is really involved in the manufacture and quality processes. We will do this by opening up the process digitally so that the modular journey becomes accessible and transparent through film, virtual reality and much more.
If we are to respond to the ongoing housing crisis, help the Government reach their house building target and address our acute skills shortage, we need to find new and innovative ways of tackling the issue. MMC doesn’t provide the full answer, but without them it is difficult to see how we will make progress.