Supported by technology and spurred on by the housing crisis, the off-site manufacture of new homes is on the rise. New London Architecture’s recent Factory-Made Housing report identified nearly 80 off-site manufacturers around the UK. 

Sarah Yates, principal researcher at NLA, says: “The really significant trend is that house-builders and developers are building their own factories. Factory-made housing is the disruptive force in house-building. And a lot of those factories are now starting to deliver in really big numbers.” Not only is the housing landscape changing, but so are the businesses that deliver it. “We are seeing the arrival of hybrid house-builder-developer-manufacturers,” says Yates, “The advantage is they have complete control over the process.” 

According to the Government’s Housing White Paper of 2017, homes constructed off site can be built up to 30% more quickly than traditional methods and with a potential 25% reduction in costs. 

So if these new builders ramp up, they will be able to help with the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes every year for the next 10 to 15 years. Currently only about 220,000 are going up a year, and, of that annual batch, between 4,000 and 6,000 are modular homes. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s industrial sector has increased by 1.4% a year since 1948. The ONS attributes this – in part – to a more skilled workforce; a shift in production from low to high productivity goods; improvements in automation and technology; and increased investment in R&D. Factory-made housing ticks a lot of these boxes, and SEGRO has high hopes for the sector.  

Take-out: This revolution must overcome embedded cautious attitudes, as it forces the building sector to challenge convention and embrace innovation