The debate over barriers to achieving housing construction goals is complex. Not all of these problems are easy to solve, but increased investment and advancements in equipment can play a part and offer solutions.
For homebuilders, there is a real opportunity to harness new techniques to enable efficiencies and help tackle the housing deficit.
When the ways of working have been largely the same for decades, it can be daunting, not to mention logistically difficult and costly, to change. Sometimes it takes one or two developers to take a leap of faith and adopt new processes, delivered by experienced entrepreneurs, for others to follow suit.
Over the past few years, Akela Group has made decisions to invest in and deploy new techniques to our customers, resulting in significant time and cost savings and allowing them to get to work more rapidly.
One of the areas where we see the greatest positive impact is site surveying, which can be a time consuming task for any builder as it determines the layouts for developments. As ground conditions differ over short distances, accurate data and proper area coverage are essential when assessing site suitability.
Investing in innovative techniques, like Static Cone Investigation for example, can revolutionize the way developers can test soil strength and suitability. Traditionally considered bespoke and specialist, this investigative probe is becoming more commonplace with Cala, Bellway and Avant all using it at their sites, saving weeks of time and eliminating the need for time-consuming stacking jobs.
The quality of the data and information produced by the probe allows homebuilders to intervene more quickly and without surprises. There is now real potential for this to be used more widely at an early stage in a project schedule.
Doing major construction work near other buildings and occupied homes can present multiple challenges, especially vibration and noise. Minimizing these risks can mean that work can continue without delay. Whether it’s using new tools to manage vibration or installing screw piles to overcome ground obstacles, developers who choose these more advanced technologies see increased returns.
Prefabricating materials offsite is also a cost-effective and viable option for developers who simply need to take delivery and install. This process is two to three times faster and offers significant cost savings as no steel fasteners are required on site.
Along with advances in technology, sustainability will continue to be a crucial factor as we strive to achieve our housing goals. Minimizing our carbon footprint while improving on-site efficiency is a balancing act we all need to embrace. One such process we have focused on at Akela is minimizing floor waste and recycling it to improve surface condition. This reduces the need to haul thousands of tons of soil across the country and reduces fuel emissions from our fleet of vehicles.
Times are tough, but with change comes new ways of working, many of which translate into demonstrable benefits for homebuilders. Let’s seize these opportunities with both hands as an industry collective and help meet the demand for safe, affordable and quality homes.