What’s on the Horizon for Roofing Contractors in the UK?
If recent reports are to be believed, off site construction, AKA offsite manufacture (OSM), modular construction and prefabrication, is set to double over the next five years and both the construction industry and the roofing sector need to be ready for the changes that this is likely to bring. When it comes to roofing work, OSM represents real progress in lowering the risk of falls from height. With most of the fabrication work already done, the roof can be hoisted into place for fixing and the requirement to work at height, with the risks involved, is minimised a great deal.
In view of the growing popularity of OSM, in December of last year, the House of Lords debated a report by the Science and Technology Committee entitled “Off-site manufacture for construction: building for change”. The subsequent report on this debate was welcomed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which recognises the strategic importance of a more productive and better performing construction sector here in the UK.
According to the response from BEIS, the construction sector as a whole has “not delivered the same level of productivity improvements seen in other sectors”, citing labour productivity in particular being consistently lower than that of the wider economy (about 21% lower on average since 1997). This has led to calls for construction productivity to increase and deliver better, safer and more energy-efficient homes and public buildings. BEIS advises that this will require a transformation in construction from its current business model (based on projects and short term) to a more strategic and sustainable one, based on long-term investment. The improvements nece4ssary will also rely heavily on widespread adoption within construction of new technologies and techniques, including both digital and OSM technology, combined with new energy technologies and materials.
The health and safety benefits that will result from widespread use of OSM, particularly when it comes to roofing, is being highlighted by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which has launched a project to better understand the health and safety risks that come with OSM and analyse the use of a variety of OSM technologies on project of different types and scales.
As a roofing contractor, you may be concerned that your work will become obsolete as OSM becomes more popular, but nothing could be further from the truth. We will still need roofs and roofing contractors, but it could be that the way in which you work changes, for the better as the risks would be minimised. Doing some research now on how these future trends are likely to affect your work and, perhaps, undergoing some training to ensure that you have the skills and expertise necessary for installing ready-made roofs would probably benefit you and your business in the future.
There will always be a requirement for roofers, after all, roofs need repairing and maintaining on a regular basis, even roofs that have been fabricated off site. Over the coming months, we’ll be keeping an eye open for more developments in the field of OSM and suggesting ways in which you can future-proof your business to cope with the changes. Don’t miss out on this vital information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get a heads up as soon as we have more news on this subject.