Express & Star comment: It’s easy to build case for prefab homes
The word ‘prefab’ is likely to conjure up a a range of images among readers of this newspaper.
Some will undoubtedly recall the old post-Second World War bungalows, which sprouted up here, there and everywhere in the 1940s as part of Churchill’s temporary housing programme.
At that time Britain was in the midst of a housing crisis, with homes urgently needed to replace the three million properties that were destroyed during the war.
Fast forward more than 70 years and the country is facing another housing crisis, this one sparked primarily by a population boom.
The West Midlands has been hit particularly hard, with the region needing around 215,000 new homes over the next 12 years to cope with demand.
With council bosses on the combined authority struggling to find enough suitable land, it is perhaps not too surprising to see the idea of prefabricated houses is back on the table.
Black Country firm Totally Modular has already started producing factory-built homes – and these two-storey buildings are certainly a step up from the old-style prefabs.
Featuring fitted kitchens and bathrooms, these sleek, modern homes can be put together for around £100,000.
With relative ease they can be transported to sites on the back of a lorry, craned into position, and be fully carpeted and connected up to the required services in less than a week.
Cynics will say this is a temporary fix to a problem that needs a permanent solution.
However, getting to the bottom of the region’s housing crisis will require a range of different types of homes.
There is no reason why these 21st century prefabs should not form part of any plans to increase housing stock.
In other parts of the world these types of buildings are considered to have a big part to play in the future of housing, and it is interesting to note that in the last 24 hours Amazon has invested in a start-up prefab housing company.
The region needs a swift influx of quality homes of all shapes and sizes.
Councils and private enterprises should take a good look at these new factory-built houses.
They may just provide a ready-made solution to one of the biggest challenges facing the region.