What's your name and what position do you hold?
Mark Farmer, Founder & CEO, Cast Consultancy and the UK Government MMC Champion for Homebuilding
What are your day to day responsibilities?
Running an 80-person specialist consultancy business based in London whilst trying to lead and influence construction industry change and modernisation! That might seem like a tall order but in reality much of the day job running my business brings me into contact with businesses and organisations that are starting to think about doing things differently. It is an exciting time to both be running an innovative business and to be attempting to influence policy and strategic industry thinking.
What is your professional background?
I qualified as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and have spent my career working across all parts of the construction industry from major civil engineering infrastructure to commercial property to residential. I have also been very lucky to have worked extensively internationally and continue to collaborate with a global network of like-minded individuals, businesses and policy makers who are trying to innovate and modernise.
How do you think the industry is coping with the Covid-19 crisis? What lasting impact do you see on the sector?
I think it has been a big wake up call for many, perhaps amplifying the problems that have lingered under the surface for so long – site labour intensity, lack of productivity, fragile supply chains and adversarial contracts. I think Covid is forcing all parties to think differently about delivery methods, contractual risk apportionment and new business models that require more integration and collaboration.
How do you see tech innovation transforming the industry? What do you think will be the major breakthroughs over the next 5–10 years?
I think the two main areas of tech-driven change we will see are true advanced manufacturing underpinned by automation spanning digital design and digital manufacturing. This will replace ‘building in a shed’ and create true scalability into offsite manufacturing and unlock the potential for mass customisation. I also think the next generation of digital field-based tools will transform residual on-site processes – augmented reality, robotics, autonomous plant and inspection equipment etc.
What will be the leading trends in the housing sector in coming years and how will businesses need to adapt?
There is an inevitable move towards greater consumerisation, with far greater risks of brand and reputational damage through poor quality outcomes. Media exposure is now a constant threat and this should effect behavioural change. Those that put the customer at the heart of the process will succeed more and more and technology and manufacturing will increasingly be integral to this. We will also see a regulatory environment setting the journey towards zero carbon and forcing greater building safety assurance. These will both force the industry to change as well from a technical compliance perspective. To future proof, businesses will need to make sure they have the right business model, route to profit, skills and competences and brand positioning.
Mark Farmer is speaking at The Business Post’s inaugural virtual Housebuilding Summit on Nov 10th. Visit www.housebuildingsummit.ie for full details.