Since 1996, the UK’s house prices have increased by 151 per cent whilst real earnings have only risen by a quarter as much. This unbalanced correlation causes a decrease in homeownership as UK residents are less likely and / or capable of buying a house.
The decrease of homeowners in the UK is most commonly described as the ‘housing crisis’. The increase in population compared to the shortage of homes also contributes to the weakening housing market.
National newspapers, such as The Times, have reported that prefabricated (prefab) homes could “reinvigorate Britain’s failing housing market”. Prefab homes, otherwise known as modular constructions, are houses that are predominantly produced in factories before being transported onto site and positioned onto their foundations.
Constructing houses in this manner helps decrease costs for several reasons. Firstly, building time is much faster because the homes arrive partially constructed. This results in fewer delays, fewer accidents and reduced costs due to less resources required. The Guardian stated in a recent report that a modular construction could potentially be built in “half the time of a traditional construction.”
Prefab houses are also more energy efficient than their traditionally-built counterparts because of their ‘tighter’ construction – less energy escapes, ergo less money is spent on energy bills. Additionally, fewer construction workers are needed in the first place, which reduces building costs again.
Tom Bloxham, Chief executive of property development firm, Urban Splash, claimed in a recent Guardian report that he believes prefabricated houses are the answer to “better quality” and “quicker” houses.
Prefab houses are not without their disadvantages. Unlike traditionally-built houses, the majority of materials used to build modular constructions are imported from abroad. This affects local economies because fewer materials are being domestically-sourced.
British employment also feels the strain as fewer construction workers are required to build prefab homes and those who are employed, are done so for a shorter time due to the smaller timeframe in which prefab homes are built.
Reports of prefab homes being injected into the UK housing market have already circulated. Inhabitat reported that a new venture will see six factories supply the UK with 25,000 new prefab houses every year.
Prefab homes are certainly making an appearance in Britain, but whether this new construction trend will flop or fly still remains to be seen on a wider scale.