Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)
MMC – a term used to embrace a range of technologies and process involving various forms
of supply chain specifications
Drivers for Building using MMC:
1. Shortage in Housing Supply – previously very high demand for housing
2. Skills Shortage on Sites – underinvestment in skills training leading
to overall skill levels decreasing
3. Concerns about Housing Quality - perception that build quality is declining
4. Revisions to Building Regulations - higher performance levels needed to
comply with ever improving Building Regs
5. Environmental Performance - increasing emphasis on environmental
performance of buildings (embodied energy but
initial and recurring)
Different types of MMC include:
Volumetric Construction Three dimensional units produced in a factory fully fitted
(Modular construction) out and dropped onto prepared foundations to form a structure
e.g. bathroom or kitchen PODS.
Most efficient for large quantities of identical units
Panellised construction Flat panel units produced in a factory and transported to site for
assembly into a three-dimensional structure or to fit within an
existing structure e.g. concrete wall panels, structural insulated
panels (SIPS), curtain walling etc
Hybrid construction Volumetric units integrated with panelised units e.g. kitchen
pod as volumetric unit with the rest of the dwelling constructed
Sub-assemblies and Larger components that can be incorporated into either
components conventionally built or MMC structures e.g. pre-fabricated
foundations, floor cassette systems, pre-assembled roof
structures, pre-fabricated chimney stacks etc.
Non off-site manufactured Most modern methods of construction are based off site but
MMC there are also site based methods including tunnelform
construction, insulated permanent formwork and aerated
concrete products used to form major elements of a structure
Examples of Modern Methods of Construction:
o Modular PODS (Volumetric Construction)
o Steel Frame Housing (Fusion Building systems)
o Permanent Formwork Systems – similar to twin wall system but lighter as
formwork instead of concrete. Used to contain the placed concrete and can
remain in place for life of structure. Eliminates need for striking formwork.
o Surveying & IT (Use of GPS, EDM, surveying software & laser scanning)
o Manufacturing & IT (CADCAM)
o Prefabricated roofing systems (Smart Roof)
Benefits of MMC:
There are many beneficial factors associated with MMC’s, not only for the benefit of the
client but also for main contractors, sub-contractors, local communities etc. Some of the main
advantages to using modern methods of construction include the following:
1) Quicker on site build time/shorter programmes/reduced preliminaries:
With MMC, much of the work is removed from the site and it is therefore possible to execute
various activities of the project concurrently or even before the project has commenced on
site. This reduces the projects construction time as the building or elements of the building
can be manufactured off site while the ground and site works are taking place. MMC leads to
a reduction in trades on site and a shorter construction programme which in turn leads to
reduced preliminaries, overheads and a quicker return on investment for the client.
2) Reduced waste and better waste management:
As production is often executed in a factory controlled environment, the waste stream can be
easier to manage. Exact quantities of materials can be purchased, materials can be used more
efficiently and because materials are properly stored, breakages and damage are less likely to
occur. Furthermore any un-used materials can be easily collected, re-used or recycled
contributing to less waste. Constant monitoring also takes place within a production plant
allowing new waste management strategies to be implemented without difficulty, if
necessary. Waste reduction is a very significant advantage as waste from construction is one
of the principle waste streams to landfills and it has been proven that a high percentage of
materials delivered to site are never even used and go straight into the waste cycle.
3) Reduction in defects and increased quality control:
As you can imagine, a building site in Ireland, fully exposed to our rainy and windy climate
is not exactly the perfect working environment for high quality workmanship.
Construction work exposed to the elements of wind and rain proves more difficult to monitor
with regard to quality control. Human error is also another significant factor which deters the
achievement of high quality construction as it can prove difficult to work in extreme weather
Factory based constructions forms, engage better and safer working conditions with no
interference by the Irish climate and therefore a very high standard of quality control can be
achieved which includes testing, trials, checks and re-checks. For more reasons than one,
factory based construction provides better working conditions than a building site and in turn
produces better quality too.
4) Increased Health & Safety:
Construction work carried out in a factory controlled environment is without doubt a safer
working environment for all trades. Safety controls are implemented and monitored and safe
working conditions are easier to meet and maintain. With off-site construction there is a
significant reduction in the number of trades working on site and this proves more
manageable from a health and safety perspective. Construction work on site can incorporate
some very dangerous activities and in turn lead to a large number of causalities and/or fatal
injuries. Construction is among the largest number of fatal injuries between all the main
industries in Ireland. Statistics from 2002 to 2009 (as seen in Appendix A) show that the
construction sector has been either the first or second largest contributor to fatal injuries in
the past 8 years.
5) Social benefits and reduced local impacts:
MMC’s and in particular off-site construction, allow local communities to benefit from the
process of manufacturing away from site. The main advantage to communities is that there is
much less traffic and smaller on site workforces adding to traffic congestion in the area.
Furthermore due to speedier on-site programmes, noise and pollution levels will decrease and
the locality surrounding the site will be disrupted for a far shorter period of time.
Construction sites are only temporary employment locations and offer little or no amenities
for the local communities whereas manufacturing facilities very often provide long term
social services and economic benefits for the surrounding community. Manufacturing
facilities are also more likely to invest in education and training for their workforce and
develop a highly trained local workforce within their facility.
6) Greater efficiency in the use of resources and transport
Over the years it has been noted that the use of labour, plant and materials on building sites is
extremely inefficient as is not the case with factory based activities which are kept under
extreme scrutiny, monitored and controlled. Re-cycling and re-using of materials is also more
difficult to enforce on a building site but is easily implemented in a factory based
environment. On another note, monitoring of transport patterns and schedules can be very
difficult on construction sites especially if the site is condensed and compact. With off-site
MMC the number of deliveries direct to the building site is reduced and deliveries to
factories can be planned and controlled so that full loads can be used and transport costs are
kept to a minimum. On the other hand, transport of prefabricated or modular buildings to site
must be carefully planned and heavy plant and equipment necessary for off-loading and
erection requires careful site management and consideration.
Compare & Contrast a project completed in 1996 with one completed in
Belgard Square v’s Sweepstakes
Similar multi storey concrete frames but constructed using different
BELGARD SQUARE (2006) SWEEPSTAKES (1996)
Structural columns All precast – both one All insitu – column boxes had to
and two floors high be changes regularly and
programme was determined by
Advantages: speed of column construction.
Reduced Waste –No Formwork Columns were construction in way
Quicker to Construct that they could only incorporate an
Improved quality insitu slab while precast columns
are more adaptable.
Central Concrete Core Used Precast Twin Walls: The Used Insitu Walls with timber
twin wall system consists of two formwork.
precast leaves tied together by Dis Ad: Time Consuming/Poor
means of a cast in lattice truss. Finish/Large Amounts of
Panel erected via crane on site Waste/Reduced H & S/Less
and cavity filled insitu on site. Accurate
Cladding System Techcrete
SOME MMC EXAMPLES:
Concrete Slab Construction:
o Post Tensioned Concrete: A method of insitu that eliminates standard cut &
o Involves first forming & casting the member with ducts through its length.
o Ducts contain steel cables
o After concrete is cured the cables are stressed to a specific length
o Popular method of casting concrete floor slabs and popular on bridges
Span further than reinforced concrete span ie reduced columns and
foundations and increased open space areas
Able to accommodate irregular grids
Reduces time spent placing & fixing reinforcement
Thinners slabs made possible
Early stressing of concrete allows for early striking time
o Constructed off-site
o Improvements in safety systems & reducing labour
o Design has direct communications with supplier to ensure design can be completed
o Most modern systems eliminated need for scaffolding and allows fixing of the
o panels from inside of the building
o Increase in use of cladding systems because of U-Value benefits
Precast Balcony Unit – Schock System:
System used to eliminate problem of thermal (cold) bridging in balconies.
Comprises of a rigid expanded polystyrene insulation block which makes it possible to have
a layer of insulation around the whole building.
Projecting reinforcement on either side ties into the floor slab or floor screed on the internal
side and into the balcony slab/screed on the external side.
o Volumetric construction
o Bathroom Pods have become very popular in recent years
o Generally used as non-structural members
o Produced as single complete units
o Fully factory finished internally with service ducts on external for ease of connection
and no need to open POD during commissioning
o Available in timber frame, light steel frame and hot rolled steel frame or concrete
o Only economical when ordered in large quantities/No suitable for once off house
Strong & Durable
Suitable for many building types
Ease of transport and installation, erected by crane via hooks on top
Consistent quality, no snagging
Flexible finishes and floor layout
Sealed unit so no entry required until client handover
Factory accurate/Less waste etc
The Construction Industry is continuously being asked to deliver projects faster & faster. As
a main contractor you have been asked to propose alternative methods of construction for a
proposed 16 classroom school.
In you answer you should propose alternatives to standard design and give comments on how
you feel these alternatives will affect the quality of the final project.
Introduction Outlining purpose of answer
What is MMC? See about definition
Advantages of MMC Use details as above
The proposed modern methods of construction for this 16 classroom school include the use
of precast wall and floor panels, precast stairs and also the use of Alltek spray on plastering
to the internal walls. I believe that this will give a signification reduction on the overall
programme while also adding additional benefits.
It is also proposed to use 100mm wideslab flooring with a 150mm screed finish as well as
precast stairs at all levels. All of the precast products are manufactured in a factory controlled
environment and delivered to site ready to be lifted into place easily via a mobile or tower
In addition to the benefits of MMC mentioned above, precast construction offers many other
benefits over insitu as follows:
1) No scaffolding required – this can save time on site and leads to further cost savings.
2) Less co-ordination needed on site – there is no need to co-ordinate the shuttering
carpenters, the concrete deliveries and pump, deliver & positioning of re-enforcement
etc and therefore problems and delays on site are eliminated before the arise.
3) Fair faced finish on wall panels – the precast wall panels offer a fair faced finish on
one side which is ready to be painted without the need for a skim coat plaster finish.
The external walls will take a cladded or external insulation finish therefore will not
require any finishes as the rough side of the panel will face the external or cavity of
the building. On the other hand the internal walls will require further finishing on the
rough trowel side of the wall and this will be carried out using a spray on plaster
finish of just a few millimetre thickness. In this case finishing works will be kept to a
minimum while also eliminating the need for drying out of wet trades.
4) Electrical conduits and sockets can be cast into the precast wall panels during
manufacture thus saving further time on site for chasing of walls and installation of
services by mechanical and electrical contractors.
Precast Wall Panels:
It is proposed that 200mm solid precast wall will be used internally. These panels will be
manufactured on an automatic production system therefore resulting in overall lengths and
opes to within mm accuracy. The walls will carry the vertical load and act as shear walls
within the structure.
The Erection Process:
The precast crew will work off a finished ground floor with starter bars already in place.
Starter bars are vertical bars cast into the floor slab and set out, as per the positioning details
for the wall panels. The wall panels are lifted in place via a mobile or tower crane. Lifting
brackets located at the top of the panels are slung with chains and the walls are set down on
these starter bars which connect the building to the ground floor slab walls over bars.
The panels themselves are connected to each other on the vertical side using Philips loops
and threaded bar. The Philips loops are connectors at the sides of each of the solid panels and
provide a fully grouted rigid connection. The threaded bar is pushed down through these
loops interlocking the panels. The wall panels are connected on the horizontal with threaded
bar which sits down a dowel tube in one panel and up the tube in the other. These tubes are
then also filled with grout. The result of all these connections is that all elements are
connected together and the building is also connected to the ground thus providing maximum
Electrical socket outlets and conduits can be cast in to both faces of these wall panels and the
service tube allows for easy wiring of the sockets and eliminates chasing of walls by
electricians at a later stage. Steel sections or additional reinforcement can also be cast into the
walls at the production stage if necessary. Opening for doors, windows or services can be
provided within the wall panel but extra reinforcement must be used around these opes to
prevent cracking or breakage.
The wall panels will be erected using a crane. Lifting brackets located at the top of the panels
will be slung with chains and erected into position. M16 sockets can be pre-cast into the
panel face to take diagonal push pull props on site, thus increasing erection speed and
reducing damage to the panel on site. Once the wall panels are erected all joints between
walls will be insitu filled with a cement and fine aggregate grout and this will provide a
smooth even surface on the panels.
Precast Floor Slabs:
For this project it is proposed to use pre-stressed wideslab as wideslab will span up to 8m
simply supported. Other options are Filigree slabs which can span 5.5m simply supported but
this type of slab is not as widely used in the industry. Hollowcore flooring is another
alternative but this is only really necessary for spans greater that 8m and up to 16.5m and the
building is in excess of seven or eight floors and a lighter weight option is required. It will be
necessary to prop the floor at 600 centres using acro type props with timber girders running
horizontally from prop to prop.
For this structure, the proposed wideslab will have a 100mm slab depth and a width of
2400mm as standard will be used where possible. This shallow floor will give maximum
floor-to-floor height resulting in no loss of space. It will also provide a smooth soffit finish,
which can be used as a finished surface in areas where suspended ceilings are not specified
i.e. the apartments. The floor slab will sit approx 70mm into the wall panel and the slabs will
also be lifted in by crane via projecting lifting hooks on the surface of the slab. A 125mm
screed over the 100mm wideslab will be sufficient and can incorporate services into the floor
if necessary. It may be possible to cast upstands on the precast walls instead of shuttering the
perimeter for screeding. A393 mesh along with tie steel will be placed on the slab and a
35-40N structural screed will be poured over this. The perimeter of the floor, opes, stairwells
etc will have to be shuttered to house the screed and prevent spillages. The concrete will be
pumped in using a concrete pump and all floors will receive a powerfloat finish.
The floors will be connected to the wall panels via U bars which are wrapped around the
treaded bar projecting from the panel to connect the wall directly above. Handrail will also be
necessary around the perimeter and large opes. There will be a plastic leg on the handrail
posts that can be left in the screed afterwards. The perimeter handrail will be moved up floor
by floor as screeding progresses but handrail around opes must remain until it is safe to
It is proposed to use precast stairs throughout the school. The stairs are prefabricated off site
and are cast in a steel mould for manufacture. The use of precast stairs means that while they
can be erected by crane with the wall and floor panels, they also allow access to the next
floor for the precast crew as the building progresses.
It is also proposed that a thin coat spray on plaster system will be used on the rough side of
the precast walls and also on the ceilings. The material recommended for this is a thin spray
on plaster known as Alltek which is supplied by International Coating Products (ICP) and
who many suppliers and applicators across Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe. The
Alltek product is packaged in standard 25kg bags and comes in the form of a white powder
which comes from fine graded marble. Alltek is applied in two coats and is suitable to be
sprayed onto fair faced concrete surfaces, gypsum boards, smooth plastered surfaces etc. The
Alltek Red Label can also be sprayed over the Alltek Blue Course plaster which is used on
Alltek also supply dry fillers used to fill joints in panels, the filler is just mixed with water on
site and applied to the joint. Once the joints are dried and sanded down, the walls are then
ready to receive the plaster spray coat. The Alltek red label is poured into the spray machine
and the applicator then commences spraying the Alltek onto the prefilled surface. The second
coat of spray can only be applied once the first has fully dried out. Alltek can be applied in a
flat or textured finish and in several pastel shade thus reducing painting and decorating costs.
Between 200-300m2 of two coat Alltek application can be achieved per day. Further details
of Alltek products can be seen in Appendix B.
As can be seen through-out the above report, the use of a precast frame and a thin coat spray
on plaster finish on the proposed school could produce significant reductions on the overall
construction programme while also not only maintaining, but excelling general standards.
The precast frame exceeds specification as it will be 60N concrete and manufactured to a
very high specification in a factory controlled environment. Tight factory production control
ensures that the re-enforcement is located accurately and the panels are made to tight
dimensional tolerances. Structural connections are also accurate which assists in the accurate
installation of cladding, windows and other elements thereafter. Furthermore precast concrete
improves structural efficiency as longer spans and shallower construction depths can be
obtained using prestressed floors and/or beams. Most importantly, there will be no additional
work created for the design team as the precast manufacturer produces their own in-house
precast drawings for approval by the architect thus design costs do not change or increase.
The Alltek plaster finish will also provide a high quality finish with all Alltek materials
undergoing extensive testing before being released onto the market. Furthermore surfaces can
be emulsion painted after only 24-48 hours with only a mist-coat and finish coat being
In addition, there are other MMC’s which could be adopted on this project to further reduce
the programme if necessary such as prefabricated foundations, a prefabricated roofing
system, an external cladding system or an external insulation system such as Weber.
Case Study: Pipers Hill Gaelscoil, Post Primary School & Sports Hall,
MMC Used: Precast walls, floors & stairs,
Altek Spray Plastering,
Weber External Insulation System
Client: County Kildare VEC
Main Contractor: P Elliott & Co Ltd
Project Commenced Aug 2008 for opening Sept 2009
Furthermore, an 8 classroom school was built using precast walls, floors, stairs
and Altek in Kinnegad, Co Westmeath by main contractor Sammon Contracting in summer
2008 with the exact model being replicated and built in Drogheda, Co Louth and Tullamore,
Co Offaly that same year and further being built thereafter.