Last week’s announcement that ‘volumetric off-site construction’ homes will be constructed to meet the housing crisis, wherein 1,000,000 new homes are needed in the UK by 2020, has been met with support from across the industry.
Unlike the post-war off-site build versions, is it said the new homes will be visually vibrant, dynamic, brightly coloured and eco-friendly. More importantly, the Governmetn says they will be modern, spacious and ‘comfortable’ offering increased thermal quality and residents will have their own front door and entrance space.
The homes will be built off-site in a factory then transported in the back of a lorry, and craned onto shallow foundations. Another main advantage is the economic viability at £50,000 per ‘cube’ and thus, rents will be affordable rent at around £148 per week.
Lynne Ceeney, technical director at BSRIA welcomed the announcement: “Off-site manufacture is not a new method of construction, and many high-end homes such as those manufactured by HufHaus are popular and reliable. The move towards volume production of good quality, more affordable off-site manufactured homes is very welcome, with the associated increased rate in housing output offering an essential contribution to help young professionals, key workers and those starting their careers to get a foot on the housing ladder.
“It is good to see the industry taking steps towards off-site and advanced manufacturing techniques. As well as providing more housing, off-site manufacture can provide better working conditions for construction workers, shorter time on site, and improved environmental performance in the construction process. Since the construction is more standardised and controlled than on-site construction, it enables innovative techniques to be rolled out more quickly.
“Having a central construction base also enables the training and upskilling of workers and retention of a regular workforce, all of which will help address the ever increasing industry skills shortage.”
Earlier in the year, Legal & General invested in a modular housing business, Legal & General Homes, and is planning to deliver around 3,000 homes a year from a leased mammoth warehouse in West Yorkshire. In the interim, Urban Splash has a target to deliver up to a 1,000 a year of its own modular ‘hoUSe’ product.
They join contractor Laing O’Rourke and architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and ZEDfactory in launching plans to deliver major off-site housing programmes.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners revealed plans in February to deliver up to 7,500 units a year of its off-site housing system, a version of which has been trialled at a 24-home project in Lewisham, south London. ZEDfactory says it is ready to deliver up to 5,000 zero carbon homes a year built on stilts above car parks. The housebuilder says they are highly insulated timber frame pods while the roof is fitted with solar panels which provide 90% of the unit’s energy.