Collaborative knowledge-based DfMA approach to build cost-efficient, low-impact and high performance houses

Lead Participant: Whg Trading Company Limited


"Construction practice has hardly evolved in 40 years, and nor has productivity. Houses as a product have been criticised as cost-inefficient and failing to meet the market demand. Innovation market failures have been caused by 1) lack of continuity of business cycles, 2) presence of discipline silos, 3) lack of evidence-based benchmarks for modern construction methods and 4) fragmented available knowledge. The proposed project - to be led by the commercial arm of Walsall Housing Group and delivered by a consortium of experts from various sectors and disciplines - attempts to address these issues by adopting an innovative cross-disciplinary collaborative approach to design, manufacture and assemble market-proof, environmentally-friendly and scalable affordable houses to meet demand. **The collaboration includes 1) development of know-how for i) design for manufacture; ii) design for assembly; iii) design for high performance and low impact and iv) design for houses with minimal life cycle costs and CO2 emissions (i.e. DfMA houses); 2) evaluation of automation potential of design for manufacture; 3) development of evidence-based production and life-cycle benchmarks for DfMA houses; and 4) development of knowledge-based engineering tools to estimate life-cycle costs and carbon emissions**.

DfMA houses proposed in the project will directly contribute to reducing 33% life-cycle costs including 10% build cost, 50% design and construction time, 30% household energy consumption and 50% carbon intensity, and increasing 20% construction productivity. This will **impact and expand the Group's 1,365 house delivery programme by 2021, as well as regional and national programmes**.

The anticipated economic benefits for the project include: 1) reducing tenant householders' energy bills; 2) creating new business opportunity for suppliers; 3) reducing regional construction costs and speeding up delivery to meet the completions targeted; 4) allowing other registered providers to replicate the business model through partnerships with the Group, which will create a multiplier effect; 5) a reduced labour requirement per home will improve the industry resilience to labour shortage -- an existing problem likely to worsen over time.

Other social impacts include: 1) improving quality of life by creating more disposable income and more comfortable living environment; 2) quicker access to social or affordable housing; 3) creating new roles and skills for the future; 4) creating a safer work environment for production than the traditional production onsite."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Whg Trading Company Limited, Walsall £454,240 £ 317,968


Birmingham City University, United Kingdom £174,507 £ 174,507
Northmill Associates Limited, Manchester £134,138 £ 80,483
Energy Systems Catapult Limited, Birmingham £48,851 £ 48,851
Hadley Industries Holdings Limited, Smethwick £49,847 £ 24,923
Qm Systems Limited, ALDERSHOT £100,147 £ 70,103


10 25 50