Modular builds: The solution to the UK housing crisis?
In the past prefab buildings have received a bad rep as thousands of poorly made constructions popped up post wartime to solve the emergency housing problem faced by so many homeless Brits.
Back then these were a necessary solution, thanks to the speed in which they could be constructed and this is something which still remains a plus point for modular housing to this day. But what has changed about prefabricated buildings over the last half century is the quality. A vast improvement which is so impressive that even high-end luxury housebuilding groups such as Berkeley have got on board.
The modular housing can cost anything from £50k to several million pounds to build, depending on whether you go for the high-end luxury of names such as Huf Haus and Scandia Hus, or the cheaper award winning starter home alternatives by producers such as Modulhus.
At the end of last year, Modulhus won the Starter Home on a Shoestring competition and its factory made constructions have been hailed as the way to get first-time buyers on to the property ladder. Hollywood star Antonio Banderas has even happily poured his millions into a prefabricated Surrey Huf Haus of his very own.
Last year high-end builders Berkeley announced 20% of their builds would be going down the modular route. At the time, the Group Chairman, Tony Ridgley hailed it as a “game changer” that would help solve the housing crisis.
And after the housing associations within the Network Housing Group consolidated to become single charitable housing association Network Homes, they announced the need for 1000 units of modular housing with another 25000 to come in the future.
So what are the plus points to building in this way and could it be the solution to the chronic UK housing problem?
• Speed – modular housing can be erected in a fraction of the time that traditional builds would take.
• As such, this could help towards the Government target of delivering a million new homes by 2020.
• They’re cheaper, yet high quality.
• They come with high tech, cutting edge designs, making them suitable for all budgets.
• Modular housing can also be better for the environment thanks to solar power and other energy-saving features.
So, it’s easy to see why improved modular housing has become such a popular option, but is this solution to the housing crisis so cut and dried?
As with any massive change in construction methods and housebuilding, it pays to be cautious.
Housing goes up in value due to high demand. If, thanks to modular housing, it is no longer so high, will this have a knock on effect on house prices, meaning people already on the property ladder take a hit?
While modular housing might speed up the process of solving the crisis for people looking to buy a home at entry level, what happens after that?
Profit margins for building firms could increase due to the speedy nature of using prefabricated construction, but could the phrase ‘safe as houses’ be brought into question if housing is no longer able to hold its value, due to a huge shift in supply and demand?
The answer to whether modular housing will help stabilize the housing market and solve the housing crisis will become apparent over time, but we can’t help but feel it might be unwise to put all eggs in one basket. There is definitely still a place for traditional construction methods in UK housing.