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Modern methods of construction: building on experience (NF88)

Prefabricated homes have been long-heralded as the future of house building. But if the arguments for homes to be manufactured like cars are so compelling, why is factory-built housing not more common? 

That’s the question this publication examines. Prepared for the NHBC Foundation by Studio Partington, it considers notable periods of transformation in house building and explores the elements of design as well as the social and economic influences that fuel change. 

A lesson in history 

The report looks at the history of non-traditional housing through a range of different technologies and advancements since the 19th century. It considers and compares steel, concrete and timber, examining the inherent qualities of each material and its suitability for factory fabrication. 

Transforming the productivity and quality of house building 

House builders can avoid the mistakes of the past. The industry can harness technological advances to respond to pressing housing need, while still delivering homes that are good looking, long-lasting and better performing for homeowners. 

As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and come out of the EU, there is an opportunity to innovate. This report looks at the best features of homes from the past to inform the homes of the future. 

Summary of content

This publication contains five sections:

1 Introduction

2 Steel

2.1 Steel: Introduction

2.2 Origins: Early 20th century

2.3 Applications: 1940s and 1950s

2.4 Innovations: 1990s and 2000s

2.5 Future: 2020s
2.6 Steel: Summary

3 Concrete

3.1 Concrete: Introduction 18

3.2 Origins: Early 20th century 20

3.3 Applications: 1940s to 1970s 22

3.4 Innovations: 1960s to 2000s 24

3.5 Future: 2020s 26

3.6 Concrete: Summary

4 Timber

4.1 Timber: Introduction 30

4.2 Origins: Early 20th century 32

4.3 Applications: 1940s and 1950s 34

4.4 Innovations: 2000s 36

4.5 Future: 2020s 38

4.6 Timber: Summary

5 Summary and conclusions