As the construction industry ramps up its use of modular construction, PBC Today takes look at the modular homes taking the UK by storm

The housing crisis, skills shortages and a lack of affordable homes continue to plague the UK. While both housebuilders and policymakers grapple with solutions to build new homes quickly, modular construction has been hailed by many in the industry as a possible answer to solve some of these challenges.

So, what is modular construction?

Modular construction is a process which involves constructing elements of a building offsite in a factory-controlled setting before being transported to site for assembly.

The process uses the same materials, standards and codes as conventionally built facilities and is undertaken under controlled plant conditions, but the process is completed in around half the time.

The buildings are produced in “modules” that are put together on site.

There are two types of modular constructions; permanent modular constructions and relocatable buildings.

Benefits of modular homes:

  1. Build homes up to 30% quicker than traditional building practices
  2. Less risk of complaints about noise and disruption
  3. Generally unaffected by the weather and other environmental delays
  4. More environmentally friendly – the process generates less waste
  5. Reduces the risks of accidents and related liabilities for workers.

Modular housing schemes in the UK

Retirement living in Shrewsbury and Brighouse

modular housing, affordable homes

Client: Housing 21

Construction firm: M-AR Off-Site Ltd and Henry Riley LLP

Location: Richard Onslow Court and Ward Court – Shrewsbury and Brighouse

The two modular developments include one-bedroom apartments and bungalows specifically for people over the age of 55.

The homes are complete with kitchens and shower rooms and were transported by road, before being lifted into position where external finish and roof construction took place. The Shrewsbury part of the project was delivered on-time, on-budget, without defects and within 26 weeks.

Affordable homes in Newton Aycliffe

offsite

Client: Livin

Construction firm: Tolent, manufactured by ilke Homes

Location: Newton Aycliffe, Durham

In one day, two modular homes were delivered and assembled on site

Six modular homes made up of the ground floor, first floor and roof sections were delivered to the site and installed into position to create a pair of two-bedroom homes.

Not only did the process speed up the delivery of the homes, but they also boast a greater energy efficiency rating. As a result, tenants of the modular homes in Newton Aycliffe could save up to 20% on their utility bills compared to new build homes built traditionally.

Council homes in Northstowe, South Cambridgeshire

modular housing, affordable homes

Client: Homes England

Construction firm: Urban Splash

Location: Northstowe, South Cambridgeshire

81 of the 406 modular homes on the Northstowe development are set to be council homes. The homes are being created as part of Homes England’s first neighbourhood at Northstowe.

All of the 81 modular homes will be either one or two-bed properties and will be available at an affordable rent, including 60 that will be age-exclusive apartments for the over 55s.

The successful bid for the 81 modular homes will enable South Cambridgeshire District Council to deliver its objectives to double the number of energy-efficient council homes it builds annually and to provide homes that are affordable to live in.

It is anticipated that work will begin on the Urban Splash homes in spring 2020.

Mid-rise affordable homes at Watts Grove, Tower of Hamlets

offsite

Client: London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Construction firm: Swan Housing Association

Location: Watts Grove, London

The first of the Swan Housing Association’s modular homes have already been delivered to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets – making Watts Grove the UK’s first mid-rise Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) modular scheme.

Watt’s Grove will deliver 45 much needed one, two and three-bedroomed shared ownership apartments in Bow, alongside the provision of affordable and social rented units. The scheme is a car-free development within walking distance of the DLR and underground lines, set around landscaped courtyard gardens which will open up the connection between Gale Street and Watts Grove for the wider community.

The homes will be built in Swan Housing’s offsite modular housing factory, using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and then delivered and assembled on site. This will reduce the build time and the environmental impact on the area. Work started on site in June 2018.

200 offsite developed homes in Bristol

modular housing, affordable homes

Client: Bristol City Council

Construction firm: BoKlok (IKEA & Skanska)

Location: Bristol

BoKlok UK Ltd has announced plans to develop 200 modular homes in south Bristol with Bristol City Council.

The proposed offsite housing development will be the first BoKlok community in Bristol. Around 140 of the homes will be for market sale under the BoKlok brand. The remaining homes will be for social rent and shared ownership.

Subject to planning permission, construction of the offsite housing is expected to start in autumn 2020.

Modular extensions on existing housing blocks in Southwark

Client: Southwark Council

Construction firm: Not yet confirmed

Location: Southwark

Southwark Council has agreed a programme to deliver modular, upward extensions on existing housing blocks in the borough.

To minimise opposition from people living in affected blocks, the authority has put together a set of ‘rooftop development principles’. It will crane in the offsite built homes to keep the development process as short as possible and give first refusal on the new units to tenants living directly below them.

The council will also deliver improvements to the existing blocks without charging leaseholders for new roofing, lifts or landscaping. Leaseholders will also be offered the opportunity to obtain a share in one of the new homes, with no rent paid on the part they do not own.

The council are set to start exploring which of its blocks could be suitable for upward extensions, whilst also developing a rooftop design guide.

Plans for affordable housing in Dorset and Somerset

modular housing

Client: Magna Housing

Construction firm: Rollalong

Location: Dorset and Somerset

Housing association, Magna Housing, announced plans to build more affordable homes in Dorset and Somerset for people to rent and buy and is taking a modular, offsite approach to deliver this.

Rollalong, an offsite design and build contractors in the south, supported these plans. Their in-house design team developed four housing designs for the initial order of 25 homes that were completed in October 2019, ready for onsite installation.

It is anticipated that the first new homeowners or tenants will take up residency in early 2020.

£54m student accommodation development in Wembley

affordable homes

Client:  Cole Waterhouse

Construction firm: Bowmer + Kirkland & Caledonian 

Location: First Way Campus in Wembley

Bowmer + Kirkland began craning the first of the 438 offsite manufactured modules into a new £54m student accommodation scheme in London’s Wembley, in September.

First Way Campus is a 678-bedroom student accommodation scheme being developed by Cole Waterhouse to provide accommodation for the University College of Football Business (UCFB) and Unite Student Living.

The offsite developed modules, which make up the bedrooms, corridors and kitchens of the project, will continue to be lifted into place at a rate of six per day with the last modules being installed by January 2020.

The modules have been built over the last twelve months by Caledonian in Newark. To prepare for the installation, Bowmer + Kirkland installed 403 continuous flight augering (CFA) piles, installed piles caps and then erected a structural steel core. The steel core has also been fire protected prior to the module installation.

Affordable housing scheme in Blackburn

modular housing

Client:  Homes England/Places for People

Construction firm: ilke Homes

Location: Blackburn

73 affordable modular homes are to be created close to Blackburn town centre as part of a deal between Places for People and Homes England.

Funded through Places for People’s Strategic Partnership with Homes England, the development will bring new timber-framed homes to a site off Alaska Street.

A design and access statement submitted as part of the application reads: “The opportunity to introduced quality new social housing on a highly accessible site close to Blackburn town centre and adjacent to Highfield Park.

“The development of a mix of good quality of two, three and four-bedroom homes, which will broad the choice of attractive, good quality, modern housing in the area.”

 

These are just a few of the innovative and modern developments sweeping the nation. As the buzz around modular construction builds so too will this list.

 

Think you know of a modular housing scheme in the UK that we may have missed, email our digital editor Steph at sblundell@pbctoday.co.uk.

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