Modular companies, manage all aspects of the interior design as well as the build

CAN YOU CUSTOMISE THEM?
In theory, your house could be tailored exactly to your dream, but the more bespoke and lavish you go, the more it will cost. As these homes are built in factories, the quality and consistency of work is standardised, and many manufacturers work to a catalogue of models. However they’re generally keen to create bespoke designs using high-quality materials it that’s what the client prefers. If you need to keep costs down, you’ll likely have to work with the manufacturer’s standard dimensions for room sizes, ceiling heights and door openings. Before you decide anything, it’s worth speaking to the company’s in-house designer or architect about what’s possible on your chosen model.

ARE THEY ENERGY EFFICIENT?
Yes, it’s easy to include energy-saving measures such as insulation and triple-glazing. Many are certified as Passivhaus standard, the highest possible energy efficient build. ‘We’re seeing a lot of people thinking about living in a low-impact way: moving away from the five-bedroom executive home, and towards the low-impact or even the “tiny home”,’ says Nick Newman from Studio Bark, a UK architectural practice that pioneered its own construction system, U-Build. ‘Floor area is a big factor in cost and environmental impact terms, so it’s often better to go for a smaller, greener design than spread money thin on a bigger floor area. The key is good design, and a thorough look at the space you actually use and spend your time in.’

WHAT ABOUT PLANNING PERMISSION?
Check with your council’s planning department that permission is likely to be granted for a flat pack house before you buy land. Then once you have an agreement in principle and have bought the land, your modular company should work with you to get full permission. As they’re made up of modules, these houses can be interesting architecturally, and when they stand in their own land, can look stunning. But flatpacks can just as well be built on land in an ordinary street, in which case they’ll probably have to fit in with the streetscape.

HOW EASY IS GETTING A MORTGAGE?
‘Structural warranties are often the key to unlocking finance for new builds,’ says Studio Bark’s Nick Newman. ‘The issue for the self-build market is that many structural warranty providers are designed around the “brick and block” traditional route of construction, which favours energy and carbon intensive processes such as concrete. It’s inherently difficult for modern methods of construction to comply, though we have had some success after quite a lot of work!’

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