Ab pre-fab: modular gets a makeover
able apartment blocks as it does for one-off bespoke homes.
There’s a wave of initiatives that should give those wanting a brand new home some interesting choices. At its factory and showroom at Shorehamby-Sea, near Brighton, modular manufacturer Futureform has teamed up with home magazine House Beautiful to offer a complete service, from design and construction to ordering sofas and TVs.
Customers choose a house model and walk through the warehouse picking out flooring, bathrooms and kitchen, tiling, curtains and soft furnishings – it’s like going shopping at a giant house supermarket. It isn’t bespoke, but there are various models in different sizes, from a contemporary townhouse to a glazed house with a pitched roof that can be clad in a raft of materials from timber to reconstituted stone. The product can be delivered and erected in 18 to 20 weeks from ordering. Prices start from £150,000 for a three-bedroom house or from £200,000 for a four-bed.
The only thing missing from this equation is the land itself – and that’s the company’s next step. “What we’ve found is people struggle to find plots, so we’ve now moved into finding the land first,” says Steven Barrett, chief executive of Futureform. The company has bought land and is currently going through the planning process so it can eventually offer customers everything from plot to finished house. The Government has also re- cently opened its first plot shop, to make it easier to buy land to build on.
Finding a plot wasn’t a problem for Danny and Sarah MacLaren, who were living in a single-storey house with a large garden in Harpenden, Hertfordshire – Sarah’s childhood home that she inherited from her parents. In March, the couple and their three children moved into their new factory-built home, a large, airy, timber-clad house of nearly 5,000 sq ft. It couldn’t be more different to the low brick building it has replaced, with high ceilings, a double-height atrium over the main living space at the back, five bedrooms, a TV snug and spacious study.
“We wanted to build a house to [energy-efficient] Passivhaus standards, and modular was the easiest way of achieving airtightness,” says Danny, who works in IT. “Because everything is pre-cut in a factory to exact measurements, the standard of fit can be guaranteed.” This is the second modular house their architect, Tom Gresford,
The MacLaren family, main and below, built a 5,000 sq ft modular house