Building with Prefab

Eco-friendly qualities and bespoke design mean modular building is on the up


theselfbuilder_prefab1With its individual designs, green credentials and high quality of workmanship, the interest surrounding prefab housing in the UK continues to grow at an increasing rate. With a shortage of skills in the construction industry and the risk of hiring a team that doesn’t deliver what you’re after, we Brits are turning to the energy-efficient qualities and craftsmanship of prefab housing.

‘The turn-key precision of prefab housing makes perfect sense for self-build,’ says James Pickard of Cartwright Pickard, the architects behind Murray Grove, Britain’s first multi-storey modular housing development. ‘A self-build is the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make – it seems silly to risk getting it wrong by using Roman methods of construction.’

The other big advantage of prefab is that your grand design will be built at whistle-stop speed. Half of the 30 apartments that comprise Murray Grove were erected in just 10 days – a one-off self-build can go up in less than 48 hours.

Here in the UK, prefab still suffers from the stigma of Weetabix-carcass post-war housing, but there is nothing low-rent about twenty-first century prefabricated homes. At Baufritz, one of the several off -site German construction specialists to have recently set up shop within these shores, you can either choose your grand design from a catalogue or design it from scratch with one of the firm’s in-house architects.

In Germany, incidentally, it is entirely unremarkable for a house to be born on the shop floor. The Teutonic passion for engineering, insistence on quality, and an unsentimental approach to existing housing stock mean prefab is very common in Deutschland.

Its green reputation makes it a winner there, too – especially at the top end, off - site construction is very energy-efficient with impressive levels of insulation and triple glazing as standard. Come on Brits, what’s not to like?

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Words: Karen Glaser 

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