Kreo and Mode Modular working in partnership towards the future of modular construction

With industry professionals increasingly embracing the potential of modular construction methods as the key to speeding up and increasing efficiencies in residential building projects, innovative solutions to modular problems are becoming more important than ever. Mode Modular is a fully integrated Modular design & delivery platform that fundamentally seeks to disrupt a number of broken processes that the industry is facing. Modular, particularly in the UK, is up against a number of hurdles - client decision related, cost related, design and procurement related; all of which have contributed to the slow take-up of the opportunity of modular. An ever-increasing number of industry professionals are realising it’s the future, but unless we’re able to unlock a lot of these issues, the potential for it reaching its full capability is limited. Mode Modular aims to disrupt the design and delivery process and the procurement process of carrying out modular development in order to make it much easier for developer clients to carry out best in class modular development, unlocking considerable programme and cost efficiencies along the way.

Mode Co- CEO, Phil Botes, has been in the development space for many years, and co-founded MODE to make development more simple and cost efficient. He explains - “When it comes to the modular delivery space, it’s fraught with issues. There are manufacturers who aren’t architects and don't necessarily know how to design buildings. There are architects who don't know how to design for modular. There are clients who, unless they're given the right quality information at the right stage in their development process, are unable to make that key decision to take the project modular. And there are various issues in between all these things that are prohibiting a real modular solution to hit the UK. In the market at the moment, what's happening with modular development is not really achieving any price differential to normal construction and is not really saving much design time. It might be saving some construction delivery program, but that's about it.”

Phil explains that, in order to address these challenges, he and the Mode team have effectively formed a team of best-in-class experts in the field of modular delivery. They have teamed up with manufacturing partners who have considerable capacity to achieve a lot more, which is enabling them to have meaningful discussions with clients. When asked about the current appetite from within the industry, Phil has observed that people do acknowledge that technology will change things, but often because of the compartmentalised nature of designing and developing buildings, unless the whole design team operates under a single tool like BIM, this will cause challenges. “It takes everyone to be doing the same thing. Unless everyone incorporates, be it, a new piece of software or a new technique or way of doing things - if there's only one person or one key element of a team doing it, it becomes almost more problematic than the issue you’re trying to solve”, he adds.

So, where would that tipping point be where emerging technologies become a standardly accepted new way of working, and how would we get there? Phil suggests firstly - having a tool that actually is very easy to use. Secondly - having a tool that is not prohibitively expensive to use. And thirdly - the problem with the real estate industry is that each project is funded by a different client. So typically what happens is that each client on each project is putting together a team of people to deliver a service that is required to carry out a project - be it architectural services, engineering services etc. That client is therefore almost not incentivised to do something different because it presents a level of risk. “It's much easier to do something that's been done before, and so that's a barrier. Having Kreo within our platform, we get over that because our platform already has all those constituent parts working together. That's why Kreo, I think, works well for us as a technology solution.”

Phil and his business partners came across Kreo initially via an introduction from one of their strategic partners - Cast, the well-known real estate and construction consultancy. They had been through a process of putting their company business plans into action and from the get-go, found Kreo particularly engaging and interesting. The opportunity became clear for an integration of Kreo into the Mode platform which was under development at the time, which could help bring an important element to the platform to make it a truly end-to-end solution. The vision was a ‘one stop shop’ integrated modular platform that a developer could tap into to carry out modular developments whilst being more time efficient, cost efficient, and process efficient.

Meanwhile, the partnership has been beneficial to Kreo’s product development, with a significant amount of input from the Mode team. In Phil’s words, “When we came across Kreo, Kreo was trying to design buildings at the click of a button, which is a very interesting space. But as we reviewed it and massaged the output, what came about made Kreo Modular work quite a bit better as a product.” Since then, some of the Kreo Modular deliverables have been the direct result of discussions with Mode.

When it comes to Phil’s first experience of the platform, he says he was “pretty blown away by it at the time, and recognized it was the future, or it could be the future”. Hence, Mode decided to go on a journey with Kreo early on because they truly believed in what could be done with it. Providing their detailed feedback along the journey and seeing the incremental additions to Kreo and useful flexibility delivered within Kreo has been a welcome result of Mode’s partnership and constant feedback.

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Asked about his favourite feature within Kreo, Phil told us “I think the ability to actually visualise going into a building and visualise what the layouts will be, brings it to life. And particularly, the alignment of a cost plan to that is very interesting.” And who else would benefit from working with Kreo? “As a development facing product, there’s huge potential for architects and larger scale developers; those clients who have a mass rollout type of business plan. Big hoteliers doing feasibility on projects, social housing providers or large house builders. I think for me it's the first tech entity that I've properly seen done this way. And it seems that almost no problem is unsolvable.”

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