Factory built homes, pre-fabs call them what you will, have had a tough time. Poor construction due to the need for speed has tarnished this innovative and cost effective way to build new homes.
The main construction materials used in manufacturing many of the 1950’s and 60’s prefabricated homes was steel with poor insulation. They may not have stood the test of time but then again they were never designed to. What they did do was to solve a problem – a shortage of housing – especially after the second world war.
Now that lines are getting more blurred between what is off-site and modular building construction and traditional building projects, it is good to see an increase in the number of prefabricated buildings being constructed as viable alternatives to more traditional methods of building homes.
Media coverage has undoubtedly helped the cause (hoffhaus is the standout example that most people remember), however, most of these projects are being carried out by the smaller builders and private individuals. The majority of the large, high volume house builders in the UK have yet to buy-in to the benefits of building off-site. New developments are using the same construction methods that are little changed for many years, and producing, in my opinion, uninspiring homes.
The most valuable asset that modular building construction and any off-site construction has over traditional methods is efficiency. That efficiency relates to many key factors including less energy used during manufacturing and less waste resulting in less CO2 emissions. The quality control achieved by manufacturing in a controlled, factory environment arguably produces a better product in a shorter timescale.
Modular homes can meet the highest standards in sustainable home building. The Code for Sustainable Homes (the Code) is an environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes and modular homes are easily achieving the highest code values.
Within the domestic market a whole new industry has been created by people who are looking for additional space in a difficult housing market. A garden office can provide a well designed solution to an increasing need for more accommodation. No longer are we happy to empty the garden shed and move the lawn mower out the way to make room for a desk. These buildings come fully equipped with everything you need to create an extra room at the bottom of your own garden.
For many years now buildings for commercial use have benefited from modular buildings and off-site construction methods.
From hotels, bathroom pods, student accommodation, offices and schools, high quality, well designed and energy efficient buildings have been providing high quality solutions.
We may yet see the housing sector taking a closer look at modular building solutions to meet the increasing demand for low cost, quality homes.