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Tag Archive: modular construction

  1. Prefabricated Buildings Are Increasingly Popular Within Construction

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    Construction is a key growth area for prefabricated buildings. In fact, it’s a sector that has been reaping the benefits of volumetric modular construction for decades.

    There are clear benefits to the kind of factory-constructed, pre-engineered units of modular buildings for sites that often needed to expand and contract, move around and be generally flexible throughout the duration of the wider project.

    Prefab buildings are the best choice

    Way back in the 1990s, the Egan Report (Rethinking Construction) detailed the efficiency, usefulness and predictability of offsite modular construction for the sector. The report specifically advised that modular buildings would improve all aspects of the project performance metrics.

    The theory at the time suggested that construction companies using modular buildings on site would benefit from:

    • Improved performance.
    • Higher quality construction.
    • Superior health and safety.
    • Reduction in project duration.

    And this theory is backed up by research and on-site evidence since then.

    Temporary or permanent solutions can be provided with prefab buildings

    While some continue to think of offsite modular production as only relevant for temporary structures, this is absolutely not the case.

    Misunderstandings abound regarding modular construction, but within the construction sector itself, there is widespread appreciation of its benefits. Modular construction methods in 2022 are of an exceptionally high standard.

    At Thurston, we control the entire process in our own factories. This allows us to ensure that there are no delays throughout the project and that we can provide the kinds of modular buildings that fulfil the needs of every client.

    Within construction, this can be anything from extra office buildings, facilities for staff to take breaks and structures that can be temporary or on a permanent basis.

    Challenges within construction sector

    Challenges do remain for construction sites incorporating modular buildings, such as any logistical or site constraints. However, Thurston has factored all of these kinds of scenarios into its project cycle, so that the transition on to construction sites is able to be as smooth and unobtrusive as possible.

    Modular construction offers the flexibility, efficiency and cost benefits that are extremely attractive to the construction sector.

    However, surprisingly the vast majority of modular buildings used within the construction sector are temporary accommodation, such as project offices or staff welfare facilities.

    5 ways modular buildings are used within construction

    At Thurston Group, we regularly work with top contractors across the UK to provide all kinds of temporary modular buildings. Our turnkey solution makes it as easy as possible for the client, and the buildings are fully ready for use as soon as they are installed on site.

    Some of the most common uses of modular buildings within construction are:

    1. Offices.

    2. Canteens.

    3. Toilets and showers.

    4. Changing rooms.

    5. Storage.

    The modular buildings can be designed according to the construction site’s specific needs, making them one of the most flexible methods. Furthermore, we ensure that modular buildings are energy efficient (as well as cost efficient), which is becoming more and more important to the construction sector in terms of carbon management.

    As well as the versatility of modular buildings, construction companies benefit from their relatively low operating and maintenance costs, the fact that all necessary fittings and fixtures are included right from the start and each building is delivered to the site ready for occupation and already functional.

    Maximising limited footprint on construction sites

    Construction sites always have to consider the space they have available on site for the kinds of buildings they need. No project can be completed without the kinds of welfare facilities that modular buildings can provide, but often the footprint available is limited.

    This is where we are able to flex our designs to include multi-storey units, which are delivered on site complete with all the necessary steps and landings for full access.

    Thurston has a wide range of options for construction clients, ranging from a single, standalone gatehouse building to Anti-vandal portable buildings or complete modular buildings on multiple levels.

    Offering additional Vandal resistant and specialist blast resistant modular buildings are ideal solutions for technical and remote sites. Leveraging all of the benefits of modular construction, and ensure longevity while installed in COMAH sites.

    Case study: Blast resistant welfare building complex for Esso Petroleum

    Having delivered a modular welfare block for Esso Petroleum, the bespoke Ultrablast design was for a Staff welfare block at Esso Petroleum’s Purfleet Fuels Terminal. This meant a range of very specific requirements for safety reasons, as well as a complex design incorporating a number of functional internal rooms.

    These blast units were manufactured on site by Thurston, after liaison with an external civil contractor. This resulted in a complex that is blast resistant and incorporates an office administration areas, welfare space and reception.

    Fully air conditioned, the complex also includes meeting rooms, an open plan office space, three small offices and a kitchenette. As the client’s site was fully operational at the time of construction, it was important to ensure that the majority of the building works took place off-site, with the building arriving 90% complete.

    We delivered the entire project within budget and to the highest possible standard, resulting in on-site buildings that are modern, well designed, fully equipped and can withstand up to 10mba blast resistance.

    To find out more about the modular building options available for construction sites, click here.

  2. Apprenticeship Reform: Where are we now?

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    In 2015 the Department for Education set out its vision for English Apprenticeships following a review into the system, to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships through a transformational programme of change. Whilst apprenticeships were successful, the 2012 Richard Review of Apprenticeships found a number of challenges that we needed to address if we wanted to improve their quality and quantity. 

    It found that the quality of apprenticeship training needed to be improved and relevant to meet the needs of the employer. Employer investment and sustainable funding for apprenticeships must be secured and the accessibility of these apprenticeships also needs to be improved, supporting the vulnerable. Ultimately we needed more apprenticeships overall to meet the skills gap. 

    The Apprenticeship Reform Programme had four main objectives; to meet the skills needs of the employers, to create progression for apprentices, to widen participation and social mobility in apprenticeships and to create more quality apprenticeships.  

    According to the latest 2021 report on the programme as it comes to an end, three million apprenticeships had been entered into in England between 2015 and 2020. This latest report highlights how successful the Programme has been and outlines plans for 2021 and beyond. 

    On quality, their achievement rate for apprenticeship standards has gone up by 12%. But there is a lot more to do. To meet this objective, there is new employer and provider guidance and more self-assessment tools. There’s also a new national online Apprenticeship Workforce Development programme for training providers. The government is also implementing a new accountability approach to ensure high-quality assurance for all those registered to deliver training. 

    Last March the programme faced its biggest challenge yet with the Covid-19 pandemic. Apprenticeship numbers dropped due to the impact of national lockdowns, with staff on furlough, falls in vacancies and some employment failure. In response to this, the government introduced flexibilities and adaptations to enable apprenticeships to continue and all learners to start and complete their apprenticeship. Support was also provided to businesses, offering £1,500 in grants for every apprentice they hire, rising to £2000 if the new apprentice was under the age of 25. This was further increased to £3000. 

    We’ve always looked to employ apprentices within the business but due to our significant growth, we’re now looking to grow and employ even more. There’s a national skills shortage with more people retiring than entering the industry. So apprentices can help meet this need and improve local skills, helping more young people into the industry. We also help by working with local colleges to provide support, placements and apprenticeships to their students. 

    The Apprenticeship Reform Programme has been completed now but the focus now is on raising quality and extending accessibility of apprenticeships to employers in all sectors. The future of the programme remains responsive to the needs of the employers and apprentices through the new objectives. The government will now concentrate on embedding the reforms it has made and providing the market with sufficient stability to adjust to the new models of apprenticeships funding, delivery, and quality assurance. 

    The future programme will continue with a focus on four key benefits; to support employers of all sizes to benefit from high-quality apprenticeships that are relevant and responsive, drive up the quality of apprenticeships, support progression into sustainable employment and ensure apprenticeships are accessible to individuals at all stages of their career. This will hopefully help the country recover more quickly from the pandemic and help provide a solution to the skills shortage. 

  3. Modular construction in the Education sector

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    In the education sector, not every project or client is the same. These institutions, schools especially, are generally overcrowded and underfunded. Expansion is the first step to solving overcrowding issues, which in turn helps students improve their performance. But with tight budgets, traditional expansions don’t come cheap or quickly. From universities to primary schools, each building has a specific set of needs and requirements. How can modular construction in the education sector solve these issues? 

    Matthew Goff, Managing Director at Thurston Group, explains how modular construction benefits the education sector. 

    The main benefit I think is the fact that our modular buildings are built offsite with 90% of the build completed before it’s delivered and installed. Most institutions don’t need the disruption caused by traditional methods. With modular, you don’t have builders in and out of site. You have less traffic, less noise and less disruption. This means that you don’t necessarily need to wait until half-term to get your project underway. We can get around to it offsite and then plan the delivery for when there won’t be any students or children on site. Although if you wanted to, you could invite them to watch the installation, safely, from a distance and make it a learning experience. 

    The next benefit is reduced maintenance. We undertake a strict quality control process throughout the entire project to ensure that no product or building leaves the site until it has been checked thoroughly. From the design stage, we monitor and improve quality through the RIBA Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA), providing guidance to the design team in simplifying the product structure. 

    This reduces costs, improves efficiency and quantifies improvements. Not only does this help reduce waste and improve sustainability, it also improves the quality of the build. Nothing leaves the factory unless it’s been signed off and approved, meaning durable, lifetime buildings. This also means that over its lifetime, there’s less chance of any problems because of the way that it has been built. 

    Another benefit is flexibility. Modular and portable buildings can be modified and adaptable in order to meet the needs of the client. Modules can be added or taken away at any stage of the buildings’ lifetime to meet demand. This helps the education system significantly as no one can plan for how many students they’ll be getting in the future so with an ability to expand or reduce at any point, this is quite an attractive feature for education suppliers. 

    Not only are they flexible in size, they’re also flexible in design. Unless a client wants a brand new building, most education suppliers will need a building that is new but also matches the design of the current building. We’re able to provide bespoke buildings at the request of the client and have a range of options meaning that we will always be able to match the new building to the existing one.

    This was a key factor for Aberystwyth University when they needed a new accommodation facility to meet demand. Working for Campus Living, we installed a brand new, bespoke triple storey modular student accommodation facility for the university. Designed and manufactured to the clients’ individual requirements, the facility comprised 60 fully furnished modern bedrooms to accommodate the increase in students. With tight deadlines and a live environment, modern methods of construction were the preferred choice to ensure disruption for students was kept to a minimum. The university also needed the accommodation quickly and traditional methods just couldn’t have been delivered in time. 

    We’ve also recently written about how offsite and modular construction benefits special education needs in Education specifically, too. Each module can be adapted to meet all needs and make sure every student has the best learning experience. Find out more here.

  4. Thurston Group picks up its first RoSPA award

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    We’re extremely delighted to announce that we’ve picked up our first internationally recognised award; the Silver RoSPA Award, in recognition of our commitment to health and safety practices across our organisation. 

    After going for the award for the first time, we’re delighted to have achieved the Silver Award. The Silver RoSPA Award, organised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), recognises Thurston’s and our employees’ achievements in health and safety. All of our teams focus on a “Work Safe, Home Safe” initiative, safeguarding themselves, their colleagues, our clients, customers and the communities in which we operate.

    The annual Health and Safety Awards are categorised by different levels of achievement: Merit, Bronze, Silver and Gold, as well as long-term awards that recognise companies for achieving Gold Awards for multiple consecutive years. Organisations receiving a RoSPA Award are recognised as being world leaders in health and safety practices. Every year, nearly 2000 entrants vie to achieve the highest possible accolade in what is the UK’s longest-running health and safety industry awards.

    Matthew Goff, our Managing Director, said, “We’re extremely proud to have received this distinguished award from the RoSPA. These annual awards are among the foremost international accolades that you can receive in the Health and Safety sector. It’s particularly gratifying to have received this recognition for Thurston Group’s long-term track record of excellence in this area, especially given the recent challenges of the pandemic. Safety is our number one value, with all our teams focusing on our “Work Safe, Home Safe” initiative, safeguarding themselves, their colleagues, our clients, customers and the communities in which we operate. These awards are a true recognition of our culture.”

    Gary Ware, our Group Production Director, said, “This RoSPA award once again supports our group’s ongoing strategic plan and commitment to be the partner of choice, and in light of the current pandemic, the investment into our people, the estates and our buildings has us well placed to continue growing as a business. A special mention to our SHEQT Officer, Janet Sanders for the award support, and well done to all involved across all three of our operational sites, along with our construction sites throughout the UK . Keep up the good work!” 

    Want to know more about our organisation? Head over to Our Company.

  5. Planning permission and building regulations: A breakdown

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    Planning permission and building regulations can be a minefield. Even more so when you factor in modular construction and portable buildings. But what is it and do you need it if you’re planning on going modular?

    Planning permission in the UK is a regulation that can help guide the way towns, cities and villages are developed. There are five main factors when considering what planning permissions you’ll need and they are the use of the land and buildings, the overall appearance of the buildings, landscaping, highway access and probably the most important; any environmental impact. 

    Will I need planning permission for my modular or portable building?

    Now all modular and portable buildings require planning permission but if you’re coming to us for your building, we can do all the hard work for you. Whatever sector you’re part of and whatever building you require, whether that be a classroom, a container, a hospital extension, a gatehouse or a new home, we offer a full turnkey service.

    Requirements state that, regardless of size, any structure in place for over 28 days, must have planning permission. If you’re ever unsure – it’s probably best to get it anyway. Or you can contact your local planning authority to establish whether you’ll need planning permission for your building or not. 

    Do your buildings comply with building regulations and do they need to?

    In short, yes. All buildings must meet all current Building Regulations, including Part L2. If you’ve come to us to provide a building solution, then your mind will be at ease knowing that all of our buildings, modular or portable, are in line with all current regulations. Everything from fire safety, electrical safety and resistance to sound to sanitation and building access are all covered. 

    It can be really confusing, especially if you’ve always dealt with traditional methods of construction. Whatever you need, we’re able to provide bespoke solutions and do all the hard work so you don’t have to. Let us know your requirements and we can design and manufacture a high quality, sustainable, cost-effective solution to match.