12 Jan PREFAB HOUSES: WHATEVER NEXT?

An Opportunity for Landowners: –

The prefab is to make a comeback. The Government has indicated it will be publishing a White Paper in November, with plans to offer manufacturers help to build 100 000 ready-made homes in a bid to solve the housing shortage. As things stand the construction industry constructs on average 130 000 houses a year when we need 250 000.

Churchill launched a prefab building programme after the Second World War developing 156 000 homes to accommodate people left homeless by the Blitz. The 21 Century prefab will be a very different concept to that of its post war forbear.

Offsite construction is regarded as very sustainable, producing homes that are well insulated and energy efficient and attractive to look at. This type of construction can be used for more mass housing, or for more bespoke houses, such as those developed by Huf Haus.

Insurance giant Legal and General is developing a factory near Leeds with an area of seven football pitches that is planning to build 3000 prefabs per annum. These will cover a wide range of housing types. All modules arrive on site complete with kitchens, bathrooms, and even carpets. Construction can take only a few days once the foundations are built. The cost is about 40 per cent  less than traditional construction.

For landowners with a lot of space, manufacturing pre fabs in the south east could be worth investigating. For those with planning permission for housing, or with sites likely to obtain planning permission including brownfield sites in reasonably accessible locations, then planners will be under increasing pressure to grant consent. The build out could be achieved significantly more quickly, although the margins may be less.

On a smaller scale there are growing opportunities with ‘self build’. Planning authorities are required to keep a register of those who wish to find sites, leading to provision in future housing allocations of sufficient sites to meet the need. The Self Build Portal has some very interesting examples of houses built in urban and rural areas, with some larger scale schemes built under the umbrella of a Community Land Trust.

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