Interactive guide to modern construction
Modern methods of construction (MMC) offer a variety of benefits, from cost savings to a reduced environmental impact.
New projects are increasingly looking to such methods to overcome contemporary pressures and meet the latest standards on sustainability and environmental performance. However, some popular MMC solutions can also introduce added risks, both during construction and throughout a building’s lifetime.
Fortunately, in most cases, these risks can be mitigated at the design stage and via simple best practice measures once the building is in use.
Our interactive infographic explores some common MMC, the risks they can pose and how you can take action to manage them.
Find out more and access helpful guides and insight with our new Fire Risk Resource.
Various pre-fabricated roofing systems are now available and are increasingly popular. However, there have been a number of instances where roofs have been torn from properties during high winds as a result of poor design or incorrect installation.
- Carefully consider environmental factors, such as wind loads, which will vary depending on the location and the building’s design.
- Check with the manufacturer to ensure their roofing system is suitable and always follow the manufacturer’s and structural engineer’s specifications regarding the appropriate fixing methods.
Cladding is often used to protect buildings and give them an attractive finish. Many feature combustible elements, such as polystyrene and timber, and fires have been known to spread quickly up the side of buildings when these are present.
Cladding can also feature components that are susceptible to storm damage and could fall from the building if not adequately fixed.
- To reduce fire risk and prevent damage occurring to the building’s outer layer, it is recommended to only use cladding from the first floor upwards, with ground floor levels being finished in conventional, non-combustible materials such as brick, concrete or glass.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s and designer’s instructions on the correct method of fixing any cladding to the structure.
Pods are essentially ready-made rooms, pre-installed with fixtures, fittings and services. However, while pods can be easier to use, issues often stem from the quality of their installation.
As with other volumetric/modular methods, voids can often be created that increase the risk of fire spread. Also, while quicker and cheaper during construction, they can be incredibly difficult, or even impossible, to repair once in situ, sometimes costing more over time.
- Insist on specialist tradesmen to connect electrical and water services, and install the necessary fire stopping measures. This will help avoid common issues, such as escape of water or inadequate fire protection.
- Before purchasing a pod, make enquiries about future repairs. Sometimes the only option is to purchase expensive bespoke parts or to replace the entire pod. Ensure you choose a solution that is cost-effective throughout your building’s lifetime.
Larger and more complex components are now being pre-fabricated and then assembled on site. These range from insulated wall panels to entire sections of buildings with services, such as plumbing and electrics, pre-installed.
This method can offer real benefits, but also introduce added risk – for example, once assembled, voids can exist between these components, allowing fire to spread quickly and undetected throughout a building if not properly dealt with.
- Ensure all voids are suitably fire-stopped with fireproof materials and physical firebreaks.
- If any aspect of the building is altered, either at construction stage or during its lifetime – for example, drilling through a wall to install new services – it is important to ensure any firebreaks are not compromised and always reinstated.
Timber poses a much greater fire risk than many more conventional materials, such as brick, concrete and steel. Timber is now being used more comprehensively on modern building projects due to its sustainability credentials and advances in engineered timber products.
- Where timber features prominently, particular attention needs to be paid to the adequacy of fire protection measures to prevent and minimise fire spread.
- Extra care will also need to be taken during construction, when timber components may be fully exposed and at their most vulnerable.