At the top of the world

Sunday Express - - PROPERTY -

Our mod­u­lar hous­ing revo­lu­tion is see­ing thou­sands of green homes ris­ing from the pro­duc­tion line, says DEB­O­RAH STONE

MODEL Kate Moss, mu­si­cian Stor­mzy and artist Tracey Emin are all prod­ucts of Croy­don but now the south Lon­don satel­lite city has a big­ger claim to fame: the world’s tallest mod­u­lar res­i­den­tial build­ing. The 44-storey tower block – as tall as the Lon­don Eye at almost 450ft – took just 35 weeks to in­stall after the mod­ules were de­liv­ered to the site and stands next to a sis­ter tower of 38 storeys.

Mean­while in North York­shire, 2,000 mod­u­lar homes will have rolled off the pro­duc­tion line at ilke Homes’ fac­tory in Knares­bor­ough by next year, ris­ing to an an­nual 5,000 homes in the next five years.

These mod­u­lar homes are part of a gov­ern­ment-backed, green hous­ing revo­lu­tion that aims to make Bri­tain a leader in pre­ci­sion-en­gi­neered hous­ing.

The Croy­don apart­ments were man­u­fac­tured on a pro­duc­tion line at Tide Con­struc­tion &Vi­sion Mod­u­lar Sys­tems’ fac­tory in Bed­ford, in much the same way as cars are cre­ated.

Com­plete with fully fit­ted kitchens and bath­rooms, plumb­ing and wiring, the mod­ules are fit­ted to­gether as apart­ment blocks on-site in half the time it takes by tra­di­tional build­ing meth­ods.

Chair­man John Flem­ing says find­ing even more in­no­va­tive ways to build bet­ter, sus­tain­able homes is cru­cial and adds: “Us­ing a pro­duc­tion line can of­fer far greater cer­tainty around qual­ity and cost. What we, as de­vel­op­ers, need is far greater cer­tainty from the plan­ning sys­tem it­self.”

Speed is a ben­e­fit of mod­u­lar build­ings but they are also twice as en­ergy-ef­fi­cient as the av­er­age UK home and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy cuts waste by 80 per cent.

Fac­tory man­u­fac­ture also re­duces lorry de­liv­er­ies, cut­ting car­bon emis­sions by around 50 per cent com­pared to tra­di­tional con­struc­tion meth­ods.

The dif­fer­ent skills needed for pro­duc­tion lines could lead to more ap­pren­tice­ships and ilke Homes has launched an academy for trainees in elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and car­pen­try. Croy­don’s 101 George Street apart­ment blocks is a build-to rent de­vel­op­ment and ex­pected to be fully fin­ished by May (tide­con­struc­tion. co.uk) while ilke Homes (ilke­homes.co.uk) de­liv­ered New­cas­tle’s first ever mod­u­lar zero car­bon coun­cil homes this sum­mer.

They have so­lar pan­els and were made in just six weeks for on­site as­sem­bly.

The Ger­man Pas­sivhaus con­cept is also gain­ing ground in the UK, as other com­pa­nies fo­cus on homes with im­proved in­su­la­tion and smart tech­nol­ogy.

Pas­sivhaus is a vol­un­tary build­ing per­for­mance stan­dard based around re­duc­ing a home’s fu­ture en­ergy de­mand.

Ann Tay­lor, Strutt & Parker’s head of new homes Kent, ex­plains: “Pas­sivhaus trends are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar as house buy­ers have a grow­ing un­der­stand­ing of what this means and the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits that such eco prop­er­ties of­fer.”

Strutt & Parker is the agent for new de­vel­op­ment Sco­cles Court in Min­ster on Sea, Kent, that have su­per-in­su­la­tion to re­duce elec­tric­ity bills by 70-90 per cent, triple glazed win­dows and doors, air pu­rifi­ca­tion and nat­u­ral heat re­cov­ery sys­tems, plus smart light­ing and heat­ing.

Four-bed­room houses start from £499,995 (01227 807905; strut­tand­parker. com) and the de­vel­op­ment has land­scaped com­mu­nal ar­eas and an out­side gym.

Zero car­bon smart homes are also be­ing built in Corn­wall, where Verto Homes have launched a col­lec­tion of four-bed­room de­tached homes in Rock, near Pad­stow, that will gen­er­ate en­ergy through so­lar pho­to­voltaic pan­els while us­ing air and ground-source heat pumps. A heat re­cov­ery sys­tem will also re­dis­tribute warm air through­out the houses so noth­ing is wasted.

The homes at Ly­onesse Lane start from £895,000 (01637 820420; ly­ones­se­lane.co.uk) and have smart tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing key­less en­try, au­to­mated heat­ing and light­ing.

“Fu­ture-proof­ing homes is crit­i­cal,” says Verto Homes co-founder,tom Carr.

“We have to en­sure the tech­nolo­gies used are suit­able for the en­tire life­time of the struc­ture.”

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