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Modular homes – the future of the British construction industry?

Last week the Government called for a more innovative approach to solving Britain’s housing shortage and is backing modern methods of construction, such as modular homes, to speed up housing delivery. The Government is calling on councils to set their own design quality standards and use virtual reality technology to win round communities and end ‘not in my backyard’ attitudes.

Factory-built modular homes could therefore be the future for the British construction industry – which is experiencing a slow but steady growth in the number of companies delivering pre-built modular housing.

One company aiming big is newly launched ILKE Homes – which aims to deliver 2,000 precision-engineered modular houses and low-rise flats to the UK market every year after recently setting up a factory in Harrogate. It’s modular homes can be built in half the time of brick-built houses and are capable of achieving zero carbon emissions. ILKE has been created by builders Keepmoat with the modular manufacturing firm Elliott – and it expects the current Yorkshire factory to grow staff numbers from 150 to 800 in the next 12 months.

ILKE Homes CEO Bjorn Conway said of the work they’re doing: ”Our mission is to address the UK’s chronic shortfall in affordable housing, creating consistently high-quality, energy-efficient modular homes at scale, to the people that need them most. The showrooms we have on display at a site in Doncaster are examples of affordable and private market properties that can be delivered for our partners like Keepmoat Homes. Using precision engineering and inspiring design, we look forward to working with our partners to create homes for families across the UK.”

The UK’s largest modular private residential development set to be built in Slough has recently been given planning permission – which follows a £600m investment from the ‘Heart of Slough’ regeneration scheme. With great connectivity to London – boosted by the arrival of Crossrail next year – the site will see 238 new apartments including 50 affordable homes, all set for completion next year. Building on the site wont start until October, and due to the off-site building methods installation of the units will take just 10 weeks!

Click Properties, the developer behind the project, said: ”Slough is undergoing a renaissance, making it a fantastic place to live and work. Our apartments will provide high-spec housing for a growing population, helping to meet the increased demands for homes.”

Another getting involved in the modular revolution is award-winning architect Richard Hywell Evans, who has created a prototype home for the modular housing brand nHouse. nHouse is hoping to sell to developers and housing associations, or individuals who want to build their own homes. The company has a new factory in Peterborough, where there’s a show home to display how the high-tech sustainable buildings can work. Whilst presenting early concepts for the design at MIPIM Richard Hywel Evans said ”We had a strong interest in our product which gave us the confidence to move on to the next level.”

With the need for housing increasing in the UK it’s clear that new innovative ways to develop homes to a high-quality quicker is needed. It’s likely to form part of the discussion on our housing panel at the Oxford Cambridge Corridor Economic Growth Conference where, if potential opportunities are unlocks to grow the economy, needs to see a large volume of additional housing built over the next 10-15 years to accommodate the growth.

Source: Built Environment Networking