What does the future of house building look like?

Posted on 28 Jul 2020 by Jonny Williamson

Technologists at the Manufacturing Technology Centre are starting work on a newly-awarded project which will transform how domestic buildings are designed, manufactured, and delivered in the UK.

The project is part of a suite of key projects awarded to the MTC, which are part of the Transforming Construction sector deal initiative, funded through Innovate UK.

IGNITE will create digital tools to support the transformation of the construction domestic supply chain. It is led by Places for People Group with consortium members LYNQ, Totally Modular, Northmill Associates, ModularWise and Project Etopia UK. Project delivery starts this month for delivery in April 2022.

Chief engineer at the MTC, Susan Hone-Brookes, commented: “The overall aim of the project is to develop an end-to-end digital platform which integrates design outputs, on and offsite programme activities, and supply chain readiness.

“We think of it as bringing the learning of the automotive sector, with their car production flow lines and just-in-time supply chain integration to the construction sector. Creating a digital portal to share options for housing developments will enable developers and construction supply chains to gear up in a more strategic way, unlocking value through optimisation of manufacturing processes and understanding economies of scale.”

IGNITE will introduce a tendering process to enable housing providers and developers to obtain prices from across modular manufacturing companies in one sweep. They can then shortlist or move forward from that information.

This has the potential to save months off a project’s lead time as well as the costs associated with the current process.


IGNITE will also enable developers to influence the manufacturing supply chain by procuring the same housing product across different modular manufacturing companies, so efficiencies can be achieved and better prices negotiated on manufacturers’ products, reducing the overall cost of the homes.

Julie Alexander, director of technology and innovation for Places for People, said: “Project IGNITE will create a new digital toolset that will allow developers to regain control of house designs across the modular manufacturing company supply chain.

“House builders that retain assets, such as in the regulated housing sector, require more input into the design of the products being procured to ensure they meet the needs of their customers. Project IGNITE will allow this to happen.

“Developers will also get more visibility of the in-factory manufacturing process allowing them better financial control over modern methods of construction projects. The project will also ensure that all houses being procured will be delivered with a digital twin, critical for the future of asset management.”

The MTC is a key member of the Construction Innovation Hub – an alliance of experts in manufacturing, digital, building performance standards and construction technology to drive innovation and technological advances in the construction and infrastructure sectors.

*Header image courtesy of Depositphotos