Unprecedented, extraordinary, unparalleled – just a few ways to describe the way the world has changed in the wake of COVID-19. We can all clearly see the short-term impacts, but what will it mean longer term and how will it impact our built environment and, particularly, how we construct.
Construction has always been a ‘creature of habit’, doing things the traditional way, slow to evolve, but we believe we are seeing the most convincing catalyst for change in more than a century.
Many construction sites have shut down, despite Government urges to carry on and the creation of new Site Operating Procedures drawn up by the Construction Leadership Council.
Traditional contractors who are continuing have been criticised for putting the health of workers at risk, not least because it is very difficult to achieve social distancing on a busy construction site.
The modular construction industry, on the other hand, is able to carry on far more safely and provides a solution to many of the challenges we’re facing right now. At Reds10, we are currently increasing production.
The reality is that the impact of site closures will affect society long after current social distancing measures are removed. New school classrooms will not be ready for the new academic year, much needed hospital wards and diagnostic suites will not be available to replace ageing and unreliable assets and key worker accommodation will not be available.
Off-site construction would not have avoided all disruption, but the simple truth is that off-site factories and contractors are still producing buildings and working on site while many traditional construction sites are closed.
The construction industry must embrace this opportunity to rethink how things are done and leverage the very significant advances in off-site construction technology.
It is time for a new beginning, one that can withstand pandemics and global emergencies, and allow us to keep building, delivering the homes and facilities so badly needed.