The drive towards ‘modern methods of construction’ that has proved successful in industrial buildings and budget hotels has had limited traction in private housing.
While some major house-builders have invested heavily in developing their offsite capabilities, the market for prefabricated residences remains largely restricted to social housing, buy-to-let and purpose-built student accommodation. Most private buyers making the biggest and most important purchase of their lives still prefer bricks and mortar, which is why traditional construction methods continue to be preferred in the private house-building sector – it is what the market actually wants.
The government likes the idea of offsite construction because if offers an opportunity to reach its ambitious house-building targets. Construction company shareholders like it because they see profit potential from a de-risked manufacturing process. Only the public remain doubtful. Those who can afford to make a choice, in general, continue to choose traditional homes.
Among those who think the public is wrong is David Gall, associate director and construction products sector lead at the BRE. He says that the public perception of prefab is outdated and he has joined battle for hearts and minds.
BRE has put together a new product standard to assure potential buyers that modular homes are built and perform to the highest standards. The standard provides guidance to manufacturers, developers, planners, mortgage lenders, insurers and underwriters, as well as the general public.