As populations around the world continue to grow, a recurring theme is the need for housing.
More directly, many nations have declared a “housing crisis” and are looking for solutions.
One of the nations where the need is most pronounced is the United Kingdom or UK, where a report by Cast CEO Mark Farmer entitled; “The Farmer Review of the U.K. Construction Model” cited that labor shortages mean that new homes cannot be built fast enough.
Studies commissioned by the UK government state that nation will need an additional one million homes by 2020.
According to the Plymouth Herald, this is where Tim Western, a director at property giant JLL, believes he has the solution.
“Off-site construction in the UK is growing 25 percent per year. This technique results in a 30 percent reduction in build time, a 75 percent reduction in workforce and 40 percent less vehicle movements, meaning that modular housing is likely to drive a huge change in how homes get built over the next five years,” said Western.
“Homes manufactured like cars, in other words off-site in a factory, with the opportunity to pick and choose what goes into a basic structure, will bring ‘car quality’ to the market.”
JLL believes that new homes in larger southwest towns and cities – such as Exeter and Plymouth, about 200 miles southwest of London – look set to be set with prefab and modular housing within the next 5 to 15 years and that could alleviate pressure on the housing market.
The firm also believes that “co-living,” where people share such common features as bathrooms and kitchens, could also be part of the solution to the housing crisis.
“There is likely to be a seismic shift in how and where we live and work by 2030,” said Western.
“Clients and designers need to adapt to this evolving trend; indeed, this is an opportunity for innovation that could give early adopters a competitive advantage.”
JLL highlights that buildings of all kinds, including commercial, can benefit from prefab and modular methods. The key elements of any building, including bathrooms, elevator cores and window systems, can all be built in a factory before being slotted into place.
Evidence of the increased British interest in manufactured, modular and prefab homes is found in insurance giant Legal & General is making an investment in the largest house-building factory in Europe, near Leeds. This marks the first time that such an investor has moved into producing pre-made homes in the UK.
In the U.S., Legal & General has also been investing in manufactured and modular home builder Cavco Industries, recently increasing its stake of shares in the company.
In addition to citing the construction industry shortage in the UK, Western pointed out some disturbing trends.
“The number of first-time-buyers has fallen by a third in the past decade,” said Western.
“Twenty five percent of the population will now never own a home, but home-ownership is a particularly British ambition.”
Even so, Western concedes that this trend is changing, but still sees a potential solution.
“There will be more rental,” said Western. “27,000 homes are being built in the regions just to rent out.”
And those homes come with something extra.
“That’s with combined spaces, like student living,” said Western. “So you could own a home but have it shared.”