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How to deliver a large volume of affordable homes, quickly

How to deliver a large volume of affordable homes, quickly

With the publication of Oliver Letwin’s initial findings in his Build Out Review, an insight into a new, different and faster method of construction could hardly be more timely.

There is no longer any doubt that the affordable housing crisis cannot be solved by traditional house builders.

New methods of construction are coming to the fore, and the talk is regularly about modular offsite construction.

However, modular offsite construction is only part of the answer.
Please read on below, or Download pdf full article here to find out how SIP Volumetric House Manufacture will make the biggest difference of all.

SIP* Volumetric House Manufacture is new

It is substantially different from modular offsite construction



The conversation is now gathering pace in the construction industry about finding faster ways of delivering high quality, affordable housing.

There is no longer any doubt that the affordable housing crisis cannot be solved by traditional house builders, using traditional methods.

Most people are already aware that modular construction in offsite factories is becoming part of the answer. But it is slow, it takes major investment, and it has significant limitations.

Now SIP Volumetric House Manufacture (SIP Volumetric) has entered the market; a method which has been six years in development. It is already known to important stakeholders, from central and local government, through housing associations, to traditional house builders.

SIP Volumetric has something for everyone who needs to provide affordable homes.


How is SIP Volumetric different from modular offsite factories?

  • A SIP Volumetric temporary assembly factory may be constructed in a few weeks, on the actual housing development site.
  • The entire factory may be unbolted and removed to a new housing development site once a site is finished.
  • There is no restriction on the style or size of home that may be built in a SIP Volumetric assembly factory.
  • Whereas a modular offsite factory creates a large carbon footprint, both in the receipt of materials and the delivery of finished houses by road from the factory to the site, a SIP Volumetric method requires very little road transportation.

Whilst modular offsite factories are a very important supplement to traditional house building, and are gradually becoming more acceptable, they cannot provide a high volume of homes quickly.

Legal & General, in our view the first major company to take volume modular really seriously, is investing over £50m in its site at Sherburn Distribution Park near Leeds, and is ‘aiming to deliver thousands of new homes’.

However, to date the company’s dedicated website reports no delivery of homes.

Swan Housing Association has announced that it will produce 300-400 homes a year from its new modular factory and has started to deliver, a few houses at a time. This is an important step forward, and is ideal for relatively small volumes.

Berkeley Homes recently announced that it is planning to open a modular factory in the next three years, to produce higher quality homes. Again, this is good news because it shows how a leading traditional builder is preparing to change in ways that most of the market appears to shun. Modular offsite clearly has a key role to play.

But arguably, modular is not as good a solution to the affordable housing crisis as SIP Volumetric House Manufacturing.

Its inventor is committed to delivering 10,000 homes a year by 2019, and this is a minimum number; the system is capable of scaling to greater numbers as required by the market.


What can SIP Volumetric House Manufacturing deliver?

SIP Volumetric is a new way of delivering homes. It becomes cost-effective at 100+ units, and a single factory can output up to 500 homes per annum on a single site.  However, if a larger volume is required, then multiple factories can operate on the same site.

Houses can be of any design and finish.

The method was invented by Simon Allso, an entrepreneur who has licensed the intellectual property to construction group, Low Carbon Construction, headed by Director Bridgette Farrow.

A temporary manufacturing community of around 100-150 workers is set up per factory, and so local people are given the employment opportunity close to their homes.

Five houses can be assembled simultaneously in the factory within six days. The houses are constructed a storey at a time, including the roof, within the factory environment.

Each storey is fully finished inside the temporary onsite factory, with electrical wiring, kitchen, bathrooms, plumbing, heating, fire suppression system etc. already in place, and is then moved the short distance to its plot, where foundations are already in place, then assembled storey by storey within a few hours.


Vital building components

SIP Volumetric House Manufacture relies on the use of Structural Insulated Panels: high performance, lightweight prefabricated panels, used in floors, walls and roofs. Low Carbon Construction uses SIPs manufactured by Hemsec, consisting of a polyurethane insulation core bonded between two layers of high-density facing, Oriented Strand Board grade 3 (OSB/3).  During manufacture, the insulation core is autohesively bonded to the facings providing a more reliable adhesion than traditional bonding processes. This is essential to the load bearing capacity.

All SIP panels used by LCC are ETA accredited.

The SIPs are sprayed with a Polyurea sealant by Prokol, making them watertight and thermally even more efficient.


The mission-critical role of supply partners and team members

A well-orchestrated team of 58 supply partners supports SIP Volumetric House Manufacturing and includes Hemsec and Prokol as well as major names Aarslef, Ainscough, Victoria Plum bathrooms, Topps Tiles, Howdens Joinery and Vent-Axia.

The SIP Volumetric model is supported by a team of specialist team members, which allows it to retain the flexibility required for delivery of large volumes of housing. The team includes James Bryden of CLPM who heads up project management, André Laanstra of 3Draft who is responsible for above-ground structural engineering, and Chris Stops, safety consultant.


Skills and weather

SIP Volumetric House Manufacture is not constrained by the labour or skills shortage in the construction industry because relatively few employees are required per site.  They are also of a slightly different skill set from those used on most sites.

The supply partner infrastructure makes sure every other need is covered.

SIP Volumetric House Manufacture is virtually independent of weather constraints; the work, aside installation on the plot, is carried out inside the factory.



The construction industry, as it stands, is not capable of providing the volume of affordable housing required urgently in the UK. The slow move towards modular offsite factories shows that the industry is prepared to change.

When SIP Volumetric House Manufacture is physically introduced towards the end of 2018, the picture will change dramatically in the next three years and beyond.


Taking action

For house builders who need to discharge their affordable homes obligations under section 106, Low Carbon Construction will purchase the respective land allocation and build these out using Volumetric House Manufacture. This way, these homes are delivered in advance of the market value element of any development.

Local Authorities and Housing Associations with land which requires affordable housing should contact Low Carbon Construction. The company is able to fund and build the homes required.

Please get in touch to initiate a conversation

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