The United Kingdom government is luring innovative entrants to the housing market to help it deliver its goal of one million homes by 2020.
According to World Architecture News, China National Building Materials Company (CNBM) has revealed plans to build six prefabricated home factories in UK to produce 25,000 low energy homes a year.
The deal will help the country tackle its growing housing crisis which has come about after decades of undersupply and a fast rising population.
Soaring housing costs in UK have created a rising interest in prefab housing techniques and a build-for-rent business model.
CNBM has agreed to a £2.5 billion (RM13.9 billion) joint venture (JV) with a leading UK housing association Your Housing Group (YHG) and renewable energy supplier Welink to meet pent-up demand in the UK for affordable rented housing.
Spanish home manufacturer Barcelona Housing Systems is supplying the technology.
The six factories will use British light gauge framing to produce panelised components for residential developments that are at least 75 per cent off-grid thanks to solar power and energy efficient design.
More than 1,000 people will be employed in the factories.
The JV will begin to put up its prefab homes before the factories are built.
Five pilot schemes are expected to deliver 2,000 homes next year with Barcelona Housing Systems supplying the panels for these homes. The first scheme is planned for Liverpool.
Welink said its partnership comes at a time when the UK’s housing shortfall is only going to be addressed by radical innovation in building practices that opens the way for modular housing.
The JV gives a kickstart to delivering the new homes people need across the UK which includes helping to address fuel poverty issues via incorporating solar and energy efficient design.
Furthermore, the light gauge steel framing will keep the carbon footprint to a minimum. Eventually, the JV hopes to do deals with other local authorities and housing associations.
The trend has seen entrants such as financial services giant Legal & General which said it would build the largest home building factory in Europe in a bid to shake up the UK housing by manufacturing 4,500 flats a year.
CNBM’s JV with YHG, Welink and Barcelona Housing Systems is an even more ambitious plan and may make traditional house builders uneasy.
Meanwhile, the United States has a different set of issues. With skilled workers scarce, home builders are turning to prefab construction, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Throughout the US housing recovery, builders have suffered from a shortage of skilled labour, making it tough for them to keep up with demand.
Late last year, one of US’ largest home builders, KB Homes, unveiled a model home equipped with an energy efficient kitchen and a rotating audio wall that serves either as a television or video conferencing system for two adjoining rooms.
The high-end, high-tech components were built in a manufacturing plant and meant to be assembled at the home site, requiring far fewer workers in the field.
KB Home’s concept home represents the latest technological evolution in the residential construction industry, one of the US’ last bastions of manual labour performed in the elements.
It said automobiles, airplanes and others have been able to use these same techniques. Ultimately, this is about costs, efficiency and speed.
In the US, only 2 per cent to 3 per cent of homes built in recent years are modular. In other parts of the world, that share is significantly higher.
More than a third of all homes in Austria and Sweden are built using offsite methods. In Japan, more than three-quarters of all detached homes are pre-assembled.