Bristol provides springboard to help address housing problems

Volumetric housing construction company, Totally Modular is gearing up for a busy 2019, as it starts several building projects which will help alleviate the housing shortage that is besetting many towns and cities.

A project in association with WM Housing for the Coventry area is already in progress. Initially this will be for two houses, but a further 80 infill sites have been identified across the city which could be used to build 200 new houses and thus address over half of Coventry’s current demand for homes.

Totally Modular is not a conventional construction company. It builds houses in a factory and transports them to site on an articulated lorry, where they are craned onto pre-laid foundations. The houses leave the factory virtually complete and can be already fitted out with kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms; they can even have built-in furniture, so are ready for occupancy.

“All we have to do on site”, explains Totally Modular’s Sales Manager Brian Maunder, “is lower the house onto its foundations and connect it up for power, gas, water and sewage. This usually only takes a few hours and we are ready to hand over keys to the front door.”

The houses are built around a strong steel space frame and can be clad in virtually any building material including brick, render, timber or a mix of these. Thus, they can be designed to match existing local houses, appear traditional or be at the cutting edge of a modern architectural style. They are double-glazed and highly insulated as standard so that they meet the most demanding energy efficiency requirements.

Totally Modular makes houses in several different sizes and layouts. They can be detached, semi-detached or terraced. Further, the company also applies the same design principle to building modular apartment units which can be stacked to create blocks of flats.

Brian again: “One of our main focuses is building houses and flats for the social and affordable sectors. There is a tremendous shortage of this type of home and people don’t have much of an alternative, either relying on charities, crowding-in with long-suffering friends and family or getting by in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation.”

During 2019 Totally Modular will also be building for housing associations in the pretty Cotswold village of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire and in Epsom, an urban suburb of South London. These are likely to be followed by more social and affordable projects across the country, many of which have been originated as a result of meetings held at the 2018 Bristol Housing Festival.

“Bristol was very successful for us,” says Brian. “We brought along one of our two-storey, four-person houses and it proved to be a bit of a star attraction. In fact the house attracted over 6,500 visitors, including Kevin McCloud from TV’s Grand Designs, who took a strong interest and commented favourably about several aspects of the house design and realisation.”

The festival is there to showcase new methods of construction, allowing housing professionals to explore solutions to the needs of private developments and the social and affordable sectors. Other visitors, such as self-builders, were interested in various options for fast, efficient and quality-assured construction.

Brian concludes: “As a city, Bristol is being proactive and imaginative in its approach to the housing shortage. Judging by my time at the festival, I would say the local council, housing associations and community have helped make real strides against homelessness across the area. This aligns with the goals of Totally Modular, hence the high level of interest.”