In a construction industry first, new modular housing brand, nHouse, has turned to crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, to raise development funds. Having launched this morning at 9.30AM on www.crowdcube.com, the company has already raised over a third of its £495,000 target. The rapid take up highlights industry and investor confidence in modular housing as a solution to providing much needed homes. Yesterday the government positively responded to Mark Farmers ‘Modernise of Die’ report on the construction sector, indicating more support for the development of further offsite construction facilities.
Billions of pounds are being invested in the offsite construction sector across the UK as companies attempt to push house production levels closer to government targets. Legal and General Homes, Swan Housing and the Chinese state have invested or pledged to pay for the creation of factories that can build prefabricated properties in massive numbers.
The nHouse, the ‘n’ standing for new, is an innovative offsite-constructed home that has been created by award winning architect Richard Hywel Evans. The house uses ‘Grand Designs’ styling to offer a tech enabled feature rich, green and spacious rival to poorly designed kit houses and space restricted new builds. The company is raising money to finish its prototype, secure its global intellectual property rights and fund a launch to the public in 2018. The nHouse aims to form part of the solution to the UK’s housing problem and is in talks with major developers to supply thousands of homes over the next five years.
Award winning architect Richard Hywel Evans, who designed the nHouse, explained why offsite construction has come of age:
“Thanks to the advent of new materials like Cross Laminated Timber, new technology and the support of the banks in providing mortgages this sector has now reached a tipping point. From my desk, I can use my computer to instantly instruct precision saws in a house building factory to cut wooden house panels to within a millimetre of my exact requirements. That simply isn’t possibly on a building site. If the Japanese can make 140,000 homes a year, just for the city of Tokyo this way, then there is absolutely no reason we can’t boost UK home building.”
Inspired by programmes like Grand Designs consumer tastes have changed with people increasingly interested in living in modern prefab housing. A national survey of UK home buyers revealed that 71% of people would rather live in a modern nHouse than a more traditional new home.
Construction boss Mark Farmer said:
“I tried to say it (in the report) in as stark terms as possible – to get people to sit up and take notice. The construction industry needs to modernise or die. If you buy a new car, you expect it to have been built in a factory to exacting standards, to be delivered on time, to an agreed price and to a predetermined quality. This needs to happen more in construction.”
A government spokesperson responding yesterday on behalf of the Department for Communities & Local Government and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said:
“The government is determined to ensure more houses are built more quickly, while maintaining quality, and is keen to work with firms that can achieve these goals through innovative construction methods.”
Government statistics suggest that the UK needs a million new homes by 2020, but last year just 142,890 homes were built, well below the 200,000-a-year target. Making houses in factories is 50% more efficient than constructing them on a building site. And labour shortages, made worse by Brexit, are giving house building companies a real headache.