A quick, efficient way of building new homes could help to diffuse Britain's housing problemby Prospect Team / March 25, 2019 / Leave a comment
Britain has a housing problem. The country doesn’t build enough houses, and the ones already standing are eye-wateringly expensive. The government has made noises about confronting this challenge, but nothing has solved the basic problem of supply and demand: there’s not enough of the former and far too much of the latter.
Prospect convened a panel of politicians, analysts and industry experts to discuss the part that modular housing might play in finding a solution. That’s the process where the main elements of a home are constructed off-site, then assembled on-site, as if from a kit. A short-hand way to describe it might be “flat-pack housing.” Might it help bring an end to Britain’s housing crisis?
Brian Ham is the Executive Director of Home Group, a company developing new modular construction methods. Brian acknowledged that, when it came to these new types of home, there were some problems with what he called “customer acceptance.” “The British public still suffers from the post-war pre-fab phycology,” he said, which associates modular construction methods of today with the drab emergency pre-fabricated housing of the 1940s. So the first thing the industry has to do is confront that mental resistance to the idea of living in a pre-made home.
Home Group has done this by building a village in Gateshead composed of new modular homes. If people can see these houses, and register the fact that they look just like any other house, they might become more open to buying one for themselves. Liz Twist MP, who sits on the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, recently paid a visit and was impressed. “Modular is definitely part of the answer,” was her conclusion. David Sheridan, the CEO of Ilke Homes, a company leading the way in the construction of modular housing, said that the village’s success, “has proved the vast majority of consumers can’t tell the difference between traditional and modular methods.” As such, the village has proved a success. It has helped to show that, although the process of building is a little different, the end result is just as sturdy as the old bricks and mortar approach.
Andrew Lewer MP, also a member of the Housing Committee, is enthusiastic about modular homes. “I’m amazed this conversation is taking place now,…