Where are the modern Pre-Fabs?

  Bing.alau 19:32 14 Apr 13

I wonder why, in these days of computing design and engineering improvements why we haven't seen an enterprising youngster turning out thousands of prefab houses to fill the gap in the housing market?

  LastChip 21:11 14 Apr 13

They are, complete with air conditioning.

See here.

  john bunyan 21:44 14 Apr 13


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  Forum Editor 22:27 14 Apr 13

"The new prefabs sound like a very good idea.It would ease the house shortage."

All new buildings have to meet the requirements of the building regulations, and must also comply with planning laws. That makes it much more difficult to come up with cheap, ready-made dwellings. You can buy plenty of kit-build houses, but cheap they are not.

  spider9 10:04 15 Apr 13

As FE says there are many planning 'hurdles' to get past for any new home development as well as building regs.

Timber-framed kit houses do save a lot of erection time, because all parts are engineered in the factory and should fit together easily (as long as you have access to a very big hammer, for the delicate finishing touches!!) - and, so, can be cost effective, and importantly, designed to your own specifications.

Of course the site cost, the foundations and the 'services' all add greatly to any costings and these are needed regardless of whether 'pre-fab' or conventional build.

But I think the main drawback of mass-produced units would be that people nowadays don't really want identical 'boxes' to live in if they are buying a place for themselves.

  oresome 10:31 15 Apr 13

Past evidence would suggest that we can't manufacture "system houses" without major structural faults coming to light some time later.

You would think with modern technology and the ability to manufacture to much tighter tolerances than is possible with a conventional bricks and mortar house that such houses would be far superior, but it's not the case.

It may be of course that they were built to a tight budget to satisfy local authority finances.

  spuds 11:20 15 Apr 13

There is a program on Freeview Quest called 'How its made', and recently it was showing the construction of 'Pre-Fabs', and by looking at that program the technology is certainly there. The program took you from the first stage in the workshop to final construction on site, with the then owners taking occupation. It could not have looked much simpler.

This particular program was US based, but apparently Sweden and even a company in the UK have become involved.

Perhaps not in the same league as 'Pre-Fabs', but PortoCabin have been around a very long time, and they seem to provide various accommodation designs, as do the living and accommodation blocks on perhaps oil rigs. I do note though, that sea containers also have their uses for 'part time' accommodation use?.

  Forum Editor 14:08 15 Apr 13

"It could not have looked much simpler."

It always looks simple on TV.

Timber-framed house kits have been on the market for many years, and there are lots of companies in the business of supplying and erecting these houses all over the world. In general terms costs are reasonable, and there are advantages in terms of speed of construction, which can make a big difference in cost, quite apart from the benefits of time saved in bad weather conditions.

You obviously have to pay for the land on which the house is built,and connect it to mains services, but you need to do that for all houses. Where the problems can arise with timber framed construction is in getting planning approval - if you have to pay bricklayers to put a facing brick external skin on your new house to meet planning demands the cost savings can rapidly disappear.

  woodchip 18:47 15 Apr 13

I was self Employed for near on 40 years as a Builder, though my Trade I was a Joiner Cabinet Maker. Traditional built houses, as opposed to Prefab type buildings puts Mortgage providers off. though I have nothing against Timber, you only have to look in the US at some of the old Houses as also in Australia. They can last just as long, as long as you can keep termites at bay

  spider9 19:32 15 Apr 13


Never had any trouble with planning when we used timber frame, but we always used brick finished, anyway. I've never been told that timber frame construction was looked at differently by planning, normally the firm make the kit to your own architect's instructions, and he should be aware of any planning restrictions affecting the proposed build. They also supplied full engineering certificates for the building control department.

The last one we did was a family sized three bedroom house, two storey, and the kit cost just under £20k with natural wood finishes and fitted wardrobes. It took four of us just a week to have it wind and watertight (with the help of a hired telehoist!).

The outer brickwork came to about £5k (labour and materials), and we certainly didn't feel that was any particular drawback - considering that it cost well over £6k just to get water, drainage and electric connected!. It's all relative, I suppose.

ps I thought most timber-frame houses had brick outers, except for 'log-cabin' type used as chalets etc (which I could understand planning being a bit particular about)?

  oresome 19:50 15 Apr 13

Timber framed houses have excellent thermal properties as there's not a large mass of blockwork to heat up before the rooms feel warm.

On the debit side, the temperature gradient between the inside and the outside could lead to condensation between the walls (interstitial) and to prevent this, a vapour barrier needs to be maintained in tact. The timberframe will rot otherwise.

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