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Off-Site Manufacturing And The Future Homes Standard

Off-Site Manufacturing And The Future Homes Standard

The upcoming Future Homes Standard aims for new build homes to be future-proofed with high levels of energy efficiency and low-carbon heating so they are zero-carbon ready from 2025.

Taking a ‘fabric first’ approach – in other words, considering the design and choosing high performing materials – is key to achieving this.

But rather than start from scratch each time a single home or development is designed and built, off-site manufacturing and design platforms provide the perfect way to create quality homes that meet and surpass the Future Homes Standard in a repeatable, scalable and customisable way.

What is off-site manufacturing?

Off-site manufacturing refers to the design, planning, manufacturing and pre-assembly of construction components in a factory setting. Elements or modules are manufactured in factories, before being installed on site. There are several benefits to this method of construction, from improving time and cost efficiencies to reducing waste and errors.

When it comes to the Future Homes Standard, off-site manufacturing presents a real opportunity, as Tom Cox, Technical and Development Director of Saint-Gobain Off-Site Solutions, explains.

Cox said: “Off-site manufacturing can meet the criteria of the Future Homes Standard by supplying consistent, reliable, high-performance structures capable of meeting the required fabric performance in a repeatable and scalable way.

“But rather than think about individual parts of a home separately, for example the timber frame or roof, all the elements should be considered together to deliver the best performance and quality.”

Standardisation meets personalisation

The Saint-Gobain Off-Site Solutions Division brings together a number of leading brands: Intrastack, International Timber, Pasquill, Scotframe and Roofspace. The division has developed a platform that allows architects and developers to design homes using off-site solutions that have been tested and are capable of achieving net zero operational performance.

Cox explained: “The platform allows architects and developers to pick and choose the building materials, layout, size and overall aesthetic, all while safe in the knowledge that the home will achieve net zero operation performance. These homes can be fully customised and adapt over time, meaning that although the homes will be of consistent quality and performance, they don’t all have to look the same.

“On top of this, it saves time and costs too, but also supports local job creation as the units still need to be assembled on site. But rather than rely on the availability and quality of skills in each area, the results are more consistent across the board.”

Improving the user experience

Because off-site construction delivers a greater level of consistency and performance, as well as enables more data and insights to be collated and analysed, it presents more opportunities for continual improvements.

Cox said: “The Future Homes Standard is very focused on improving the performance of the building, but one thing to consider is that you could have a home that is extremely energy efficient but not that comfortable to actually live in. The beauty of taking a standardised approach in designing and building homes through off-site manufacturing is that it gives us the ability to capture more data to learn, adapt and improve what we’re creating.

“If you’ve got a repeatable platform then it becomes more feasible to carry out more dynamic-based modelling, which would be too expensive on a single unit level. Through this, we can analyse all kinds of different scenarios and influences to measure and monitor things like solar exposure, air quality and temperatures to work out how to create the perfect environments that not only meet the Future Homes Standard but to design and build homes that are more comfortable to live in and enhance people’s quality of life.

“Ultimately through off-site manufacturing and platforms, we’re supporting the industry through creating factory controlled and quality checked elements that will operationally achieve net zero, are repeatable and scalable, but still allow creativity through personalisation and lend themselves to future improvements through learning, research and development.”

Off-site solutions to consider

Whether a self-builder or large developer, there are a number of off-site solutions developed by Saint-Gobain that can help you meet the Future Homes Standard in your next project.

For more information about roof solutions, floor solutions, timber frame houses, timber frame extension kits and more, as well as further information about the Future Homes Standard, download our guide here.