Britain must build around 250,000 new homes per year to ease the severe housing shortage. However, just half of that are currently being built. One company thinks it has the answer to the housing crisis.
Bert & May, an interior design firm specialising in tiles and flooring, plans to sell portable outside boxes that can be big enough for two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.
Bert & May Spaces, which will launch its units next month at design show Decorex, will sell three types of prefabricated boxes. The smallest is a one-room box costing £25,000, another is a one-bedroom unit retailing from £75,000 and the most expensive is the two-bed option, at £150,000.
The boxes are made from timber, have double glazed windows and an eco-friendly green roof to cut energy costs.
Bert & May states that it has already had some pre-orders, including one from a family in Yorkshire looking for a granny annex.
Co-founder of the firm, Lee Thornley, explains the idea: “The nature of London property prices in particular makes moving house impossible. We want to prove prefabs can be cool – if you have spare land, why not have an extra bedroom? And you can take it with you if you do move.”1
He adds that prefabs are a cheaper alternative to extensions, as planning permission is not required for structures classed as mobile homes.
Thornley says he is already in talks with some local authorities about using the units to increase affordable housing, especially in parts of East London, where house prices have soared in the last few years.
Ealing Council is currently working with Mears and Snoozebox to set up temporary housing made from prefab units to minimise the use of bed and breakfasts for families needing emergency homes.
Although housing transactions are starting to slow, prices in some hotspots are still rising by up to 13% a year, due to a lack of supply. The Land Registry revealed that house prices in England and Wales increased by 4.6% in the year to July.