The Benefits of Off-Site Building

Jan 24


David Stoppard

David Stoppard

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Off-site building is a term used to describe the building method where buildings,The Benefits of Off-Site Building Articles structures or parts thereof are manufactured and assembled remotely from the building site. The building structure is manufactured under factory conditions and delivered to the site where it is ultimately erected.


Off-site building can include prefabricated portable buildings as well as various types of permanent building systems. Off-site building is now the more commonly used term for permanent buildings procured in this manner. The size of the sections is only limited by the capacity of the lorry used to make the delivery.

Purpose Built Factories

Many benefits result from constructing buildings under factory conditions. Factory controlled conditions result in a better build quality, better standard of finish and fewer defects, with the snagging complete and all services tested. The use of standard components and pre-cut materials help to streamline the supply chain and help improve quality.

Highly Skilled Workforce

Off-site building requires a highly skilled workforce to accurately assemble the factory made building products. The use of off-site building methods and faster on-site construction means that fewer non-skilled workers will be required. Recruitment of staff to work on factory-produced buildings is more straightforward. The factory is a permanent base and skill shortages and worker numbers can be addressed more easily.

Two Dimensional Panels

Flat panel units are produced in a factory and assembled on site to create the finished structure. The most common approach is to use open panels, or frames, with services, insulation, external cladding and internal finishing occurring on site. More complex panels involve more factory based fabrication and may include lining materials and insulation. These may also include services, windows, doors, internal wall finishes and external claddings.

Three Dimensional Modules

Self-contained, three-dimensional elements of buildings, typically room sized, have their own superstructure and are manufactured off-site. They are attached to, or fitted inside, the main building structure and are typically used to accommodate highly serviced facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms, with the remainder of the building constructed using panels.

Computer Aided Design

Standard panels can be manufactured on a production line and the more complex elements, like window openings, can be completed as sub-assemblies. Advances in computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacture (CAM) can achieve economies by increasing the number of standard units available for inclusion.

Speed of Construction

Off-site building methods are faster, reducing on-site construction time and consequently reducing labour costs. Build times are not compromised by material and skill shortages or by inclement weather. The use of wet trades internally is eliminated and consequently drying out time is greatly reduced.

Transport Benefits

Building homes in factories reduces the total number of trips to a building site. This is of growing importance as more house building takes place on inner city brownfield sites. There is a significant nuisance to local residents from commercial vehicle traffic delivering materials, collecting waste and delivering and returning plant and equipment. As a result of off-site building, fewer vehicles travel to and from the site on a daily basis and fewer cars need parking space during the working day.

Less Waste and More Recycling

The amount of waste produced using off-site building methods is likely to be reduced considerably as factory materials can be ordered to exact specifications and there is a lower risk of on-site damage, through inclement weather and dirty ground conditions. Factory production lines using computerised machines for accurate cutting, aligning, screwing, nailing, painting and handling, drastically reduce waste materials. The waste that is produced is more easily controlled and recycled.

Energy Saving

Houses that have been built using off-site building methods typically require less heat energy. This is because of the increased levels of insulation fitted in the walls and roof, and less air leakage from the building. As a result, it has proved much easier to construct zero carbon houses using timber frame construction than by traditional methods.

Health and Safety

The UK construction industry is one of the most dangerous for workers, with about 50 deaths per year. Off-site building can improve safety because there is a reduced risk of accidents in a controlled factory environment and less time is spent on the construction sites which are potentially more dangerous. Factory based employment will provide higher levels of worker satisfaction as well significantly reduced incidences of ill-health and accidents.

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