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Call for cost effective sustainable houses for the UK
Traditional building methods must make room for more cost effective and sustainable designs if the UK’s growing housing crisis is to be alleviated, according to an independent research report published today (Tuesday January 25).

The report into the future of UK house building commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors 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.

Currently, construction rates are around 80,000 new homes below the level required to meet population growth and tackle affordability and under supply issues. But 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, it says.

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, according to Dr Chris Goodier of Loughborough University, primary author of the report.

‘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,’ said Goodier.

‘UK house building 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,’ he explained.

‘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,’ he added.

Examples include modular homes, described as self contained whole houses with bathroom and kitchen, priced anywhere from around £20,000, that are constructed off-site inside 12 weeks and then transported to the given location.

Another is homes made from recycled plastic created using a new material called ‘Thermo Poly Rock’. These homes are built from 18 tonnes of recycled plastics and minerals that would otherwise have been consigned to landfill.

The report also explores the future nature of house building in the UK over the next 10 to 20 years. Current key challenges and opportunities are identified in the delivery of housing of quality, quantity, environmental sustainability and affordability.
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