Modular housing could tackle housing crisis and improve energy efficiency
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The government should back construction of low-energy modular homes to meet 20 per cent of its affordable housing target for new homes, Make UK has said.
The body, which represents UK manufacturers, called for planning permission on homes of this type to be fast tracked as they cost 55 per cent less to heat than the average UK home and are built 50 per cent faster than bricks and mortar equivalents.
Modular building can also cut the carbon emissions associated with the construction of new homes by 83 per cent and produce substantially less waste, it added.
The technique typically reduces the amount of transport access needed for building sites, with 80 per cent fewer vehicle movements to sites, which cuts local disruption and pollution.
Factory engineering means modular homes can be built to consistently high sustainability standards saving £800 a year in energy costs for a typical three-bedroom family home.
Make UK said that record amounts of research and development funding are currently spent on modular construction – accounting for 30 per cent of R&D across the whole construction sector.
“This investment is set to deliver even more energy-efficient homes in the coming months at a time households are struggling with an unprecedented cost of living crisis,” the body added.
The government is currently targeting some 300,000 new homes a year, but in 2019-20 there were just 242,700 net additional dwellings, which fell to 216,490 in 2020-21, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Modular manufacturers already produce 3,300 homes a year, one in 60 of all new houses in the UK. Due to their precision-engineered construction, there are no 'snagging' problems or defects, which makes it possible for a single crane to install a house in just one day.
Despite the pandemic, modular has doubled its delivery of new homes since 2017 with a contracted pipeline of 8,000 homes already in place. Modular manufacturers have also built more than 40 factories in post-industrial towns or cities, creating over 3,000 jobs in the UK.
Steve Cole, director of Make UK Modular, the trade body for modular housing said: “There is a housing success story in this country, and it is modular. This report shows definitively that modular is now a significant player in the UK housing market. Government must capitalise on this as opportunities to transform our broken housing market into the most sophisticated in the world do not come around every day.
“Government must accelerate modular delivery, building on the investment made and the jobs created, by removing the remaining barriers holding the industry back.”
In 2019, then-housing minister Esther McVey announced £38m for an initiative designed to boost the number of modular houses in the North of England.
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