The flat pack home: everything you need to know about modular homes

They are quicker and cheaper to build than traditional bricks-and-mortar houses and, finally, housing authorities are recognising that flat pack homes or modular homes are part of the answer to our housing crisis. Until now, they’ve been mainly favoured by families looking for an individual home that’s unique but without the challenges of self-build. And while that option remains, flat pack is being put to other uses now too, in housing estates, and for extending existing homes. In this new series, we look at the biggest developments in modular housing, starting with stunning, bespoke properties.

Flat pack or modular houses are mainly constructed in a factory, often right down to the walls being plastered and fixtures such as kitchens and bathrooms fitted to walls. They’re then delivered to the site ready to be slotted together. As most construction is done under cover in a factory, bad weather can’t hold up the work, making this is an efficient method. It’s often also cheaper than a traditional build by up to 25 per cent, and can incorporate many eco-friendly features.

In the UK, this style of building has been mainly favoured by self-builders or custom builders – where modular companies erect a house on an individual plot to an owner’s exact specifications – and so numbers here are small. According to a report by law firm Pinsent Masons, of the 200,000 new homes built each year in the UK, only about 15,000 are modular. Historically they suffered from being associated with the low-quality prefabs built in Britain post war. But modern materials and construction methods, the flexibility the houses provide, and the speed of production means more people, mortgage providers and housing authorities are seeing them as a viable option.

Until now, modular homes have been associated with European companies such as Huf Haus or Scandia Hus, and there’s no doubt that German, Scandinavian and even Estonian companies led the way. Now British firms are establishing themselves as providers of well designed, good quality modular houses.

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