Getting a mortgage on an offsite-built home could soon get easier

Building homes using modern methods of construction (MMC) is a key way to boost the UK’s housing stock. Now a new agreement could make them more appealing to a wider range of buyers.

An “important milestone” has been reached following an agreement by the government to create a minimum standard for modern homes in the UK. The new standards will apply to all homes built using ‘modern methods of construction’, including offsite homes construction and modular homes.

A number of industry bodies have signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU), backed by the government. These include the National House Building Council (NHBC), insurers BLP and MD Warranty Inspection Services (MDWIS) all signed the agreement.

Importantly, the MoU should create more confidence within the sector as to the quality and durability of these homes. Not only will this make it easier to secure mortgages against such properties, but also to obtain insurance.

A boost for modern and green housebuilding

Offsite construction of homes has become increasingly popular in recent years. Such construction methods have numerous advantages, including being more eco-friendly. As “going green” continues to be a top government priority, the new boost for the sector will be a welcome one.

Housing minister Chris Pincher believes the UK could “lead the world” in the design of high-quality, low-carbon homes. He adds that we will now be able to offer the “mortgage and insurance products needed to support them”.

Mark Farmer, MMC Working Group chair and government MMC champion, said: “This MoU is an important milestone in improving underwriting confidence in modern methods of construction.”

“Greater collaboration and transparency in technical assessment and validation across the market will ensure we have consistency of approach and can drive a more unified quality and standards led approach to innovation.”

According to industry research, MMC homes can have significantly less defects than standard homes (up to 80%). They can also reduce heating bills by as much as 70%.

What are modern methods of construction?

Also known as “smart construction”, MMC refers to the way new homes are delivered. With the housing sector struggling to meet the growing demand for property, it offers a key way to build new homes going forwards.

The term embraces a wide rage of “offsite manufacturing and onsite techniques”, says the NHBC. At one end of the scale, developers can build whole homes from factory-built modules. It also encompasses “the use of innovative techniques for laying concrete brickwork onsite”.

The key benefits are speed of delivery, better quality and lower labour costs. There is also more predictability, as offsite construction is less affected by the weather, for example.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), using MMC it should be possible to build up to four times as many homes with the same on-site labour. It could also reduce on-site construction times by half, and this would mean cost savings overall.

In terms of green credentials, MMC can also be much more eco-friendly than traditional building methods. They tend to be built more sustainably in terms of materials used, with high quality insulation. There is also arguably less waste as there is no need for excess material, due to the factory construction.

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