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Collaborative project seeks to develop house-building innovations

26 Feb 19 Further details have been revealed of a £6.5m R&D project that aims to modernise house-building.

The project was one of last month's winners of a pot of government funding (link opens in new tab).

The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has teamed up with a group of businesses for the three-year project, known as Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH). The others involved are Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments, London & Quadrant Housing Trust, Tarmac Trading, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and Forster Roofing Services. The project will be managed by Limberger Associates.

The project was awarded funding under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is administered by Innovate UK, part of UK Research & Innovation.

The aim is to help tackle the UK housing crisis by using industrialised offsite solutions to deliver high quality homes faster, more reliably and at the same cost as masonry-built homes. The AIMCH project plans to address challenges in meeting housing targets, including skills shortages, an ageing workforce, poor productivity, low output and low affordability. The project seeks to identify and develop industrialised offsite solutions needed to meet current and future housebuilding demands. These will be trialled on live housing projects, with new methods that prove successful then being commercialised and brought to market in volume.

CSIC said that it is expected that AIMCH will result in new digital design tools, manufacturing advancements, improved near-to-market offsite systems and lean site processes.

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The ultimate goal of the project is to support the sector by delivering the government’s stated 120,000-home annual target for the same or less cost than traditional craft methods.  It aims to achieve construction 30% more quickly while achieving a 50% reduction in defects. The project has potential to impact on 35,000 homes being delivered by AIMCH partners across the UK, each year, said CSIC.

Stewart Dalgarno, AIMCH project director and director of product development at Stewart Milne Group, said: “We need tens of thousands of new homes across the UK every year, but it’s also vital that these new homes are of a higher quality, leading to increased customer satisfaction and improved building performance. Digital working and industrialised offsite construction can be part of the solution, but they have not yet broken through as viable mainstream alternatives to traditional methods of building homes.

“AIMCH's ambition is to use industrialisation to transform how we build our homes in the UK, leading to more homes that can be built quickly and viably. We believe it will be the catalyst the housing sector needs to move towards advanced digital integrated manufacturing, whilst overcoming the challenges that stand between the sector today and where it needs to go in the future.”

Mike Pitts from Innovate UK said: “We are excited about the possibilities of this project, which we hope will be a game-changer for the housing sector. The partners are experienced innovators and offer scale to showcase a world-leading solution. It brings CSIC and MTC’s innovation and industrialisation capability together with high profile housing and offsite manufacturing providers, who provide scale and a clear route to market.  It has the potential to deliver wider sector benefits in terms of jobs, investment and growth.”

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