Jun 01, 2016

Three ways offsite construction can prescribe success to the NHS

Precision, reliability and excellence are all qualities we associate with the NHS, thanks to the commitment from everyone involved in the service. The NHS is also synonymous with innovation and collaborative working; partnering with researchers, charities, businesses and governments to deliver a health service which is envied by countries all over the world.

Like many public bodies, though, the NHS faces significant challenges, and delivering new facilities within tight timescales, budgets and environmental performance standards present considerable obstacles.

Offsite construction, in conjunction with timber systems, is a proven way of addressing some of these challenges head-on, while ensuring the extremely high levels of quality the NHS consistently demonstrates itself. Here are three examples of how that can be achieved:

Costs controlled

From the earliest planning stages, budgets are managed within agreed cost parameters. Site preparation is less intensive, reducing costs at that stage by up to 30%. Labour costs are reduced using offsite construction since fewer workers and members of management are required onsite. The requirement for follow-on trades is also reduced along with carpentry charges since doors and frames are factory fitted. Money can also be saved on materials such as insulation and dry lining which are built in during factory manufacture. Normally waste removal would increase on-site costs, but 100% of waste is recycled in our factories.

Environmental performance assured

Manufacturing timber systems in a controlled factory environment allows for a wide range of benefits, including rigorous performance standards. Building components are manufactured to a consistently high standard, with fewer flaws, thanks to machine-engineered precision. During manufacturing, our independently accredited components can be designed to meet a variety of performance standards, up to BREEAM Outstanding ratings. Energy efficiency measures can be incorporated into the build envelope so that aspects such as thermal performance and air tightness are addressed.

Supply chain guaranteed

The timber we use is sourced from sustainable forests, with virtually limitless capacity to meet demand. Other building materials can suffer from supply chain shortfalls, which could cause unnecessary delays to NHS project timescales. Offsite construction also saves time as materials are delivered to the site ready-prepared for erection. This allows our experienced teams to complete projects much quicker than a masonry development. On-site management to supervise and coordinate activity is reduced, saving time on organisation and planning. Additionally, offsite construction does not rely on good weather, and timber system builds allow the foundation and envelope to be assembled concurrently. A masonry project lasting 18 weeks could be completed with our systems in just seven.

These benefits are proven, too. The David Walker care home in Rutherglen was erected in 16 weeks. It adhered to enhanced space standards, providing three separate wings for residents, along with a restaurant, fitness room and cinema. Two wings featured 140mm open panel walls and 235mm JJI intermediate floor cassettes – fully erected by crane.

In Gateshead, we provided the timber systems for a specialist care centre in five weeks. Five-metre-high open timber frame wall panels along the courtyard elevation answered the requirement for maximised light throughout the facility.

The NHS faces many challenges, and it’s to our great benefit as a country that it has a proven track record of finding innovative new ways to overcome the obstacles in its path. Construction of new facilities can ask tough questions of any organisation, but quality, performance and the supply chain shouldn’t be among them. Offsite construction combines the best of all worlds to deliver first-class facilities to exacting standards and within ever-tightening budgets. Much like the NHS itself.

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Timber Research and Development Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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