New designs could help ease housing crisis

Nia Williams

January 25, 2011

This is according to an independent research report, commissioned by RICS, into the future of UK housebuilding which is launched today.

Currently, construction rates are around 80,000 new homes below the level required to meet population growth and tackle affordability and under supply issues. The research highlights a series of low-cost housing solutions which could significantly ease national shortages and ensure that affordable housing is more readily available to both local authorities and first-time buyers.

By making use of off-site construction methods, recycled materials and innovative structural design, homes can be constructed swiftly and cheaply with less impact on the environment. Many of the designs can be easily segmented and extended, eliminating the need for costly renovation work, and enabling them to evolve as the needs of the occupiers change.

Commenting, Dr Chris Goodier, Loughborough University and primary author of the paper, said: “The need for more new homes in the UK has never been more critical than it is today. However, at current construction levels, an annual deficit of around 80,000 is a pressing concern. While there is no quick fix to the problem, it is important that the Government and industry consider more innovative solutions to development. Without them, problems such as overcrowding, undersupply and unaffordable housing seem set to continue.

“UK housebuilding has long been associated with expensive, time consuming methods and can mean that environmental standards are difficult to maintain. More innovative, modern off-site and modular designs are not only extremely cost effective, but can be constructed with ease in a very short period of time.

“Furthermore, many major mortgage providers are already willing to lend against these structures, which has been a problem in the past, meaning that first-time buyers could find them a highly practical way of getting onto the property ladder.”

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