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Trowers & Hamlins and Akerlof held a roundtable with innovators in the housing sector to discuss the findings of  the House of Lords inquiry into the Government’s investment in modern methods of construction (MMC) The Lords were pretty scathing in their assessment and accused the Government of investing millions without having a coherent strategy and measurable objectives.  

Little had been done to address barriers to using MMC, such as risk aversion from insurers and warranty providers. Also, incentives to capitalise on the use of MMC in delivering much-needed housing were deemed insufficient. Progress with using MMC couldn’t be measured because government data hasn’t been published. The task force set up to oversee data and standards had never met. 

Despite some Category 1 modular business failures, MMC’s important role in housing delivery moving forward was acknowledged. It was perhaps some small comfort for those involved with MMC at a time when the House of Lords inquiry has added to a string of negative headlines.

Buoyed by the knowledge that the benefits of MMC far outweigh any criticism, Trowers & Hamlins and Akerlof brought together a group of industry experts and stakeholders to discuss how to move forward.

We are publishing the recommendations in a series of insights on the experts views on what those within the industry can do to help make using MMC easier and better and on what good looks like.

Leadership & communication

Leadership & communication


  • Better define and communicate the value proposition of MMC.
  • Find and support the champions of MMC within public sector organisations and RPs.

MMC has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, which makes the job of convincing clients, especially within the public housing sector, to adopt it for their housebuilding projects all the more difficult. 

The reluctance is understandable; a quick Google search by anyone unfamiliar will throw up some horror stories. 

“MMC has a massive image problem with lots of negative stories, and it’s foolish to think that people will get on board with it,” said one participant.  

The many positives and good examples aren’t getting the sort of exposure that could change perception, and that is something that can be addressed. First, the industry must break out of its echo chamber and put MMC more firmly on the radar.  We need to show what it can do and how it can be used alongside traditional construction to help us build more, high quality homes, at pace.

There is another piece of work to convince decision-makers and stakeholders about the value proposition. The case for why people should take a leap of faith and use MMC needs to be better made. 

Local authorities and registered providers naturally focus on immediate capital costs but there are wholistic longer-term cost benefits for public housing. 

For example, temporary accommodation bills are rising and becoming an increasingly disproportionate slice of council budgets, but these costs can be reduced if more affordable housing is delivered. MMC could even be used as a temporary accommodation solution, providing high quality temporary solutions.

A diminishing supply of skilled labour for traditional build is a motivator for using MMC, but there are better stories to tell, particularly about sustainability and consistency of quality. Low-energy homes and low embodied carbon need to be part of the value equation for using MMC. 

There is a strong message about what good looks like that can be delivered to RP’s, local and national government.

Demonstrating ‘good’ by building more homes using MMC will inevitably help build the case, but collating and presenting positive case studies would break down barriers in the meantime. 

Having real, lived-in homes to physically visit that demonstrate what can be delivered can be more persuasive than what is on paper. 

One way to do this could be to set up an exemplar scheme for RPs to ‘touch and feel’ so they can see MMC in reality. This could have different examples from different manufacturers all in one place, for example Bristol Innovation District, Graven Hill in Bicester and Gateshead Innovation Village.

It would also be an opportunity to bring different players in the market together to share expertise and learn from each other. This approach isn’t unprecedented, it’s already being done with new green technology. 

Council budgets are particularly tight at the moment, which makes them even more risk adverse. Compiling relevant, substantiated data can help present the case for MMC, particularly as there are high levels of scrutiny for projects in the public sector.

The experience from those around the table is that there are often one or two people within an organisation who understand MMC and are happy to work with it. The problem comes in convincing those unfamiliar when the proposal is opened up more widely, particularly within board rooms. 

Can the industry better help the advocates for MMC within an organisation to keep championing it? It takes time to build confidence; people need repeated exposure to positive reinforcement to feel comfortable in something new. We need to support advocates and work together to move forward so that they can have the confidence to propose a change from the norm.

Using MMC is a journey towards meeting specific goals, which has to be supported by a strategy, and that is an area the industry can help support. 

An example given was a local authority in Wales. It set its strategic housing objectives and then worked with consultants in the industry to develop detailed requirements suitable for a modular solution.  Once that piece of work was done, the local authority was in a position to deliver a significant part of its housing using MMC.