BAM has announced that it is looking into the residential sector as a key area for its burgeoning modular construction expertise.  It recently acquired a stake in an Irish modular-homes developer, adding to its existing manufacture / supply capability in the Netherlands.  It follows Skanska's JV with IKEA, now making significant progress in the UK.

One of the key drivers for BAM's announcement is the fact that it expects 'strong, long-term demand' in the residential sector.  A lack of 'at scale' pipeline has often been cited as a challenge and barrier to companies' investment into R&D required - as well as the manufacturing capability.  Previously, only ambitious (and, crucially, well-funded) organisations have been able to afford the investment costs of making any significant steps towards a vertically integrated model that maximises the benefits of modular construction.

However, with a number of the key principles of the Construction Playbook putting the establishment of a commercial pipeline (along with the use of portfolios / programmes of works) at the forefront of decision making for publicly-procured projects, as well as building on the Government's 'presumption in favour of off-site', its seems confidence in a sustained order book seems to be growing.

It feels like we are at a tipping point that will see modular construction playing a huge part in the UK being able to meet its housing needs (currently estumated at 345,000 homes).