Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is a wide term that encompasses a range of offsite and onsite techniques that provide an alternative to more traditional building methods. Some examples you are likely to be familiar with are:
- volumetric modular systems (3D structural systems manufactured offsite);
- panelised systems (2D elements manufactured offsite, lifted in to form the 3D structure);
- pre-manufactured elements such as mass timber and pre-cast concrete;
- 3D printing of structural and non-structural components and;
- Pods for bathrooms and kitchens / prefabrication of MEP services
Choosing MMC has many potential benefits such as faster construction, increased quality, reduced energy and waste, lower embodied carbon and better health and safety. However, there are still some misconceptions associated with MMC which are leading people to doubt its use. We shed light on the top five myths that we hear most.
Myth busting 101
1. You cannot adopt MMC after planning
Many MMC techniques can be incorporated after planning, except for volumetric modular systems. These sometimes have a larger floor zone than a standard construction design as they incorporate both a ceiling and a floor when the units are stacked (circa 450mm).
Quick tip: it’s easier to switch from an MMC system design to more traditional methods after planning. We recommend you start Stage 1 assuming that you will be incorporating an MMC system (in terms of massing and building heights), so that if needed a switch to more traditional methods can be made after planning.
2. It creates boring designs
Some iconic structures have been created using MMC. Newfoundland, with its recognisable design, stands proud in London’s Canary Wharf. Here we used a precast concrete solution for every three floors.
3. It can only be used on large projects
MMC systems can be adopted on smaller scale projects, as an example we have worked with Berkeley Homes to adapt their apartment modular systems to create modular townhouses.
Repeatability and standardisation can be adopted in smaller projects too, i.e. standard kitchen layouts, modularisation of MEP systems and services, etc.
4. It needs large investment
As with most innovations and new technologies there is a need for large investment by the market. However, we’ve noticed that when clients are choosing these types of solutions, they are finding them only marginally more expensive. When used correctly MMC can substantially decrease the time onsite, this was the case for The Grange University Hospital which, using MMC, completed four months ahead of schedule. An example where the upfront costs can be offset by the reduced time onsite.
5. It limits flexibility
As we continuously improve our innovation and skills around MMC we are seeing less limitations and more flexibility when it comes to designs. It’s possible to factor MMC into all types of designs including housing schemes, hospitals, bridges and stadiums.