Is flat pack property the answer to our housing shortage?


Lucy James

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Initially introduced to combat the housing crisis after WWII, modular housing is slowly finding its way back into the UK property market. Also known as prefabricated or flat pack housing, it’s not something you can pick up from your local IKEA, but as far as property structure goes, modular housing is as flat packed as you can get and comes with a much cheaper price tag.

With a recent housing shortage in the UK, the government has looked to modular living. At the 2016 RESI conference, Gavin Barwell, Minister for Housing and Planning, stated, “We need to build more homes of every single type and not focus on one single tenure.” He further added support for modular housing, commenting “Recent growth in the bespoke rental market has been impressive, but this progress must be expanded…if build to rent can deliver at scale and speed then we should support that”. With a government-backed scheme for rented modular housing now in full swing, we could soon see interest rise in the mortgage market too.


What is modular housing?

An alternative to normal housing, a modular home is factory built, transported to its destined housing location and then assembled by a builder. Considered a form of ‘green building’ modular homes are seen as the new alternative to traditional structures. They also come at a significantly lower price point than traditional housing and could be a real alternative to the high-priced housing market.

Getting a mortgage for modular housing

With non-traditional housing, mortgages are hard to obtain, but it’s not impossible. High street lenders are naturally cautious but with alternative housing comes alternative specialist lenders who will provide mortgages specifically for the modular market.  Also, it’s important to note that a post-World War II government scheme saw hundreds of prefab houses built in the 1950s, so if you’ve lived in your rental prefab house for a significant number of years there are lenders out there who solely specialise in modular right-to-buy mortgages. It’s in your best interests to speak to a mortgage advisor who can put you in touch with the right lender for your specific needs.


Do your research

There are numerous companies that make modular housing, with varying different designs, price points and quality. So like any property purchase, they require the buyer to do their research. But with a significant cheaper value, efficient construction and energy efficiency, modular housing could soon see itself as a permanent fixture in the housing industry.

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