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Modular Homes and the UK housing crisis

03/06/2021

Studio Victoria

3 minutes

To follow on from our previous articles where talked about what Modular Design and Prefabrication is and how it can help the Construction and Property Industry, in this article, we explore how Modular design could be a solution to the UK's housing crisis by answering the following questions: What is a Modular Home? What are the benefits of Modular Housing? and Can Modular Housing help to solve the UK's Housing Crisis? Keep reading to learning all about Modular Housing to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!

WHAT IS A MODULAR HOME?

A modular home is a building that has been designed and constructed offsite (units and components factory-made) and then transferred over to the location of where the house is to be situated to produce a completed home.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MODULAR HOUSING?

In the previous article, Prefabrication and Modular Design, we went into extensive detail on the benefits Prefabrication and Modular buildings can bring. Below we sum up what Modular Housing can provide:

  • Faster construction time
  • Creates quality consistency
  • Produces less material waste
  • Extends building lifetime
  • Improves safety of construction workers
  • Provides more flexibility in design
  • Increases housing schemes

CAN MODULAR HOUSING HELP TO SOLVE THE UK'S HOUSING CRISIS?

It's not hard to see that the UK has a severe housing crisis on its hands and is among an ageing population. Predictions currently show that between 2008 and 2033,60% of total household growth in England will come from households headed by someone aged 65 or over.

The rising costs of housing on top of stagnant wages and insecure employment have resulted in young adults living with parents. A report shows that around 42% of young adults aged 15-34 lived with their parents in the UK in 2020, compared to 1996 with 36%. The number of adults continuing to live with parents is expected to grow and be accepted as a norm in UK society.

In 2018, the UK Government admitted to the broken housing market, announcing plans to increase housebuilding with 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. However, as we entered the unprecedented times of a global pandemic, it is believed that the government will not reach its target until 2032, according to the Independent. And so the question is, can Modular Housing be the answer to the housing shortage?

OUR THOUGHTS

Factory-built housing looks promising since Modular Homes can be mass-produced and speed up efficiency and productivity in the Construction and Property Development industries. This is particularly important to the UK Government since Construction Minister Nadhim Zahawi at the UK Construction Week 2020 conference expressed how together we need to "build back better, build back faster, and build back greener".

Encouragement of offsite construction is prominent since not only can it help the UK to produce more cost-effective houses in a quicker time, but it also helps the UK to pave the way to a Circular Economy. As mentioned in the previous section, producing Modular Homes uses fewer resources and creates less waste. The design of materials focuses on the 3R approach: reduce, reuse, and recycle as leftover materials can be recycled in-house and materials made for reuse, ensuring that they can be restored at their highest value, all whilst reducing the need for primary materials and reducing waste ending up in landfills.

After WWII, the UK turned to prefabrication as a temporary solution to solve the housing shortage. However, even though some still stand today, they weren't built to be energy-efficient or appropriately constructed to last the long as they have, creating a stigma around other materials that aren't the UK's standard brick, cement and stone.

A great example of modern Modular Homes is Sweden, where Modular Housing is common with 84% of detached houses in the country already using prefabricated timber elements whilst in the UK, a study shows, no more than 5% of permanent housing has any significant prefabrication.

The Swedish success highlights an untapped opportunity for the UK to invest in Modular Housing as it can create more housing schemes that can push builders to develop more Modular homes, especially if accepted by mortgage providers to help the UK to tackle its housing crisis.

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