HUD report examines barriers to offsite construction

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and MOD X, has released Offsite Construction for Housing: Research Roadmap, a strategic report that presents the key knowledge gaps and research needs to overcome the barriers and challenges to prefabrication methods. High prices for buyers and renters are forcing Americans out of their homes and making housing unattainable, contend agency officials, who see the crisis driven to a large extent by supply chain constraints. 

Offsite construction has the potential to deliver more affordable and accessible single and multifamily housing at scale. However, offsite construction for housing in the U.S. faces several challenges to increase uptake and adoption. This stands in considerable contrast to more mature international offsite construction industries, such as those in the United Kingdom, Japan and Sweden.

“We need an all-of-the-above approach to housing, and offsite construction represents a unique and underused opportunity to help meet the needs of America’s working families,” says NIBS President A.C. Powell, J.D. “We applaud HUD for undertaking this research effort to overcome barriers and level the playing field for all construction methods to help alleviate the housing crisis.”

The Research Roadmap was developed by a Project Technical Committee chaired by MOD X and composed of national and international stakeholders and cross-sector experts. It is intended as a guide for HUD to align its programs and partnerships, while simultaneously offering an industry-wide roadmap for governments, universities, and private stakeholders to come together to advance offsite construction for housing. The Research Roadmap covers six topical areas in need of coordinated research efforts, with sub-topics and specific research questions listed to help answer the knowledge gaps:

1) Regulatory and Policy Framework
2) Standards and System Performance
3) Capital, Finance, and Insurance
4) Project Delivery and Contracts
5) Labor and Workforce Training and Management
6) Business Models and Economic Performance

NIBS established the Off-Site Construction Council (OSCC) in 2013 to serve as a research, education, and outreach center for relevant and current information on off-site design and construction for commercial, institutional, and multifamily facilities. Institute staff and OSCC members have supported federal and private off-site construction research projects, including toolkits, roadmaps, and reports for the off-site industry. NIBS and the OSCC encourage members and other off-site stakeholders to submit reports or projects of interest that can help in the furthering of the Council’s goals.