Quantifying Benefits of Offsite Construction

THE POTENTIAL benefits of offsite manufacture are widely acknowledged by the industry, however there has been minimal evidence-based research that quantifies these benefits in a consistent way beyond individual case studies.

Alongside other industry peers, AKERLOF have supported CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association) and the University of Cambridge, in their resource to develop a methodology for quantifying the benefits of offsite construction. Recently published, the Jansen Report reiterates the challenges in assessing project performance, beyond time and cost, in developing robust benchmarks. The research identifies gaps in data, compounded by even common performance metrics being measured differently across organisations.

Although the project began with an aspiration to quantify the benefits of offsite manufacture, the lack of good quality and high integrity data across a full range of projects precluded this – nonetheless, the resulting report may have more far-reaching value. Documenting the status quo, the research reaffirms the importance of establishing a common framework for measuring project outputs and outcomes. With innovation often a collaborative phenomenon, this work represents a key foundation to the Construction Leadership Council and Hub in developing a Procuring for Value toolset – designed to inform and support market change.

In the automotive industry, data has been regularly applied to shape policy, stimulate development of new innovative technologies and inform consumer choice. Between 1995 and 2015, for example, car thefts in Britain fell by more than 80%, as the publication of the Car Theft Index was applied by both Home Office (top-down) and manufacturers (bottom-up) as an area of focus. Removing opportunities for car theft, a ‘gateway crime’ to more serious offences, reduced crime rates across the board.

The construction industry “has a great opportunity to create an industry-wide performance measurement system which will enable clients to differentiate between the best and the rest, providing a rational basis for selection and to reward excellence.

Egan (1998) New technologies often bring with them new forms of socioeconomic organisations; with technology, the economy and associated institutions coevolving as integrated systems. With a shifting focus towards broader value criteria, such a carbon net zero and ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, the economic and societal conditions are ripe for offsite solutions to follow this mould. The development of a value framework could accelerate this position.

The publication of the Jansen report coincides with research by the Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Home (AIMCH), targeted towards helping the housebuilding sector use data to demonstrate the value of modern methods of construction.

Evaluating the measurement landscape, both reports have illustrated the industry gap in collating data to inform value-based decision making. With the evidence base identifying the need for a consistent value framework – and with prevailing economic and social conditions – the Construction Innovation Hub’s ambitions to develop a new ‘Value Toolkit’ could be exceptionally well-timed.

The full report can be downloaded here: www.ciria.org/c792

Jamie Hillier


With a penchant for tweed and jackets with leather arm patches, Jamie began his career as a quantity surveyor, before climbing the ladder to lead major projects for a Tier 1 contractor.

Eventually expanding his book collection beyond copies of SMM7, Jamie has interest in a broad range of subjects linked to delivering better outcomes for society and the environment.

His strategic insights on MMC and behavioural science have made their way into numerous government, industry and academic publications, including the Construction Playbook, Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030, the Platform Rulebook and the RIBA DfMA Overlay.

John Handscomb


Construction is in John’s blood. Learning from his father who was a planner and project manager, John began his career by working on some iconic projects in both the public and private sector.

As a procurement expert and integrator of new ways of working, John has pioneered the integration of platform principles, DfMA processes and supply chain within over £5bn projects in the last 15 years, for some of the largest building programmes in the UK. Despite his considerable expertise, John keeps it simple, communicating complicated ideas with ease and helping to equip the industry with new knowledge and skills.

Outside of Akerlof, John enjoys his executive role with technology start-up ScanTech Digital, spending time with his family, taking trips down the football, playing a bit of golf with friends and the odd pint. 

Our name is shared with George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

His seminal paper, Market for Lemons, demonstrated the devastating consequences of making decisions under the conditions of quality uncertainty and unequal information between buyers and sellers, increasing the chance of buyers ending up with a ‘lemon’.

This 50-year-old concept continues to retain parallels within the construction industry.

Through our insight and experience, we can rebalance this information asymmetry on behalf of our clients, levelling the playing field to deliver better outcomes.