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MMC in Ireland

Modern methods of construction (MMC) will play a key role in both construction at large in the coming decades and the delivery of Housing for All specifically. The Housing Ireland Magazine examines how MMC is being implemented in Ireland.

A 2022 Construction Industry Federation (CIF) report states that timber frames account for 25 per cent of the market already and that MMC is “the future and will increase modular and offsite manufacturing to higher standards of design, fabrication, testing, and certification”. The CIF stated within its report that there is a “good regional distribution” of offsite material providers across Ireland, with the largest concentration of facilities for such located in Cavan, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, and Meath.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) wholesale price indices show that the materials most often used in MMC – timber and steel frames and precast concrete – have seen large increases in price during the last few years, some in line with overall material cost rises and some outstripping the pace of overall rises. Structural steel and reinforcing metal stands at 200.5 on the latest CSO whole price index (April 2023) with an annual price increase of 7.8 per cent, placing it below the annual increase of all materials (11.7 per cent) but far above the overall index score of 145.9. With 2015 prices used as 100, this means that structural steel and reinforcing metal prices have grown at more than double the pace of overall prices since 2015. Rough timber prices saw an annual contraction of 15.1 per cent, but still stand at 151.4 on the index, while other concrete products including precast stand at 129.9 on the index, with an annual growth rate of 9.5 per cent.

Housing policy objective 23 of Housing for All is to “drive economic sustainability and reduce construction costs”, with action number nine under this objective stating that the Government will endeavour to “promote a culture of compliant, good quality sustainable innovation in residential construction through development of modern methods of construction, including establishment of a demonstration park for MMCs”. The demonstration park will be located at the National Construction Training Centre in Mount Lucas, County Offaly and operated by the Laois Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) and SOLAS. Phase one of the park is due to be opened and operational for Q4 2023, with minutes from a February 2023 LOETB board meeting noting that stage one of the expression of interest phase for construction contractors had been completed.

Once operational, the MMC Demonstration Park will be an accessible and interactive built research, training, and demonstration resource. Phase one of the park will consist of 10 building pads, with additional space for future development. Construction companies which pass through the selection process will exhibit the latest construction technologies and innovative methods upon these pads.