New UK factory starts production of mass modular housing

A new factory has gone into production and aims to deliver 2,000 fully-fitted homes a year over the next 24 months, scaling up to 5,000 a year in the next five years.

Ilke Homes, the operator of the factory in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, said eight modular homes will roll off the production line every day and will cut the time needed to build a home by half.

The modular house builder said the production of the precision-engineered homes, which can be installed at a rate of six homes a day, should help to address the UK’s chronic current housing shortage and lack of affordable housing stock.

The factory cost of a two or three-bedroom home will be between £65,000 and £79,000, but this excludes the cost of land, on-site assembly and connecting the home to services.

The homes will have a mix of layouts, with more than 100 possible variations, from two-storey terraced houses to three-storey semi-detached properties and blocks of flats of up to four storeys.

Ilke Homes said it was working in partnership with housing associations, developers and others to deliver “much-needed, high-quality” homes that will be available to the private market as well as earmarked for housing associations.

They will be assembled on a “highly efficient flow line” using state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques.

Chief executive of Ilke Homes Björn Conway officially opened the 25,000 sq m modular homes factory last week

“We’re proud to officially open our first house-building factory in the UK, delivering much-needed, energy-efficient housing that will assist developers, local councils and housing associations responding to the current housing shortage,” said chief executive of Ilke Homes Björn Conway.

“The Government has called for the use of innovative new technology in the house-building industry in order to meet housing targets, and the modern methods of construction used to create our modular homes have been recognised as one of the most viable ways to do this.”

He said that the company already had orders for 1,000 homes for 2019 and was working in partnership with local authorities, housing associations and developers to “ensure a steady supply of affordable housing” across the UK.

Housing minister, James Brokenshire, who spoke at the opening of the factory last week, applauded the new house-production facility, which he said would help meet the Government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020 and called for more innovation in house building across the sector.

“I am determined to build a housing market that works for everyone. Innovation in house building is a key part of scaling up delivery, which is why I am keen to support increased modular build.”

The opening of the factory has created 250 local jobs across the manufacturing and supply chain, design and engineering teams, with 85% of roles taken by people outside of the construction sector, reflecting the worsening skills shortage in the UK.

A further 500 “high-quality” jobs will become available at Ilke Homes over the next five years.

Speaking to kbbreview in an interview for the December issue, TV designer and architect George Clark, said the UK needed to remove politics from house building to resolve the housing crisis and create a more cohesive and efficient planning system.

Calling for a National Home Service that would work for housing in a similar way that the NHS works for health, he said: “How can you have a consistent strategy if the housing minister is changing all the time? I have been saying this for years.

“How can the industry, how can a manufacturer or retailer, or developer know what they are doing in the next few years? They have no idea what the housing provisions are going to be?”

  • Look out for kbbreview’s interview with George Clark in the December issue, where he urges a cultural shift in our approach to housing and development in the UK.  
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