Construction is a unique industry in that work often needs to be done on site. But does it? Just because it has always been done that way, should it continue to be done that way? There are huge opportunities that exist if we can identify how best to move to offsite construction.
With offsite construction, work can be done more efficiently, in a manner that is safer for workers, and has the potential to provide more affordable housing to all. Sounds great, right? So, why then aren’t we building more projects offsite yet? Markets like the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden are much further ahead than the United States. So, what is the hold up?
Like anything else, there are hurdles that stand in the way—but the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences and MOD X, are looking to address this here in the United States.
Together the organizations have released the Offsite Construction for Housing: Research Roadmap, which aims to present the key knowledge gaps and research needs for offsite construction in an effort to overcome those barriers.
The Research Roadmap covers six topical areas in need of coordinated research efforts, with sub-topics and specific research questions listed to help answer the knowledge gaps.
- Research Topic 1: Regulatory and Policy Framework
- Research Topic 2: Standards and System Performance
- Research Topic 3: Capital, Finance, and Insurance
- Research Topic 4: Project Delivery and Contracts
- Research Topic 5: Labor and Workforce Training and Management
- Research Topic 6: Business Models and Economic Performance
It is important to note this is not the first concentrated effort to better understand the state of offsite construction here in the United States. Back in 2013, the National Institute of Building Sciences established the Off-Site Construction Council to serve as a research, education, and outreach center for relevant and current information on off-site design and construction for commercial, institutional, and multifamily facilities.
Much has changed in the past decade and much has stayed the same. The hope is this new research roadmap will align programs and partnerships, while offering a roadmap for governments, universities, and offsite companies to advance offsite construction for housing.
What are your thoughts? Will we see greater progress in the next decade? What still stands in our way? How will we overcome those hurdles?
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