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Wikihouses: What Might They Do To Alleviate The Uk's Housing Shortage?

By Author: Bradley Weiss
Total Articles: 139

At a remarkably low cost and buildable in mere days, these energy-efficient structures might help England to build more homes faster.

There is a big idea out there called WikiHouses, and it might just be one of the key solutions to the UK housing shortage. Notably, the design-build movement is rooted in England but it’s already being tested around the globe.

A WikiHouse is essentially a flat-pack-like kit that combines 3-D printing with a very democratised, open-source approach to architecture and construction. Its progenitor, Alastair Parvin of Zero Zero Architects (Hackney, London), speaks of it as the solution for the masses, a self-build method that might make housing affordable. Which, given the high cost of housing and the inadequate supply of homes, makes the method worthy of examination.

It also might make the short list of creative concepts worth investigating for individuals engaged in UK strategic land typically involves buying the land from non-builders, for example farmers or public owners. Investors then will seek a zoning change from the local planning authorities to build, although increasingly that means selling the lots to homebuilders. The WikiHouse concept would radically change the homebuilding process, but it’s not inconceivable that the speed and lower-level of investment could compel investors to test the concept. Alternatively, an individual could purchase the land to do self-build – assuming they are “IKEA-savvy.”

The Guardian considered the WikiHouse option in an article in 2014, suggesting that land availability and cost would be the biggest barriers - particularly in densely-built London. But it went on to suggest constructing these buildings on top of existing buildings, which by law may be possible. A spokesperson for Sustainable Homes, a not-for-profit consultancy, noted that post-war pre-fab buildings were similar in concept and suffered from poor energy performance. But much has changed in the 60+ years that have passed such that those concerns may be unnecessary. WikiHouse proponents emphasise how the open-source nature will provide for innovation and adaptation to different situations, climates and design interests.

Investors in housing are by nature innovative. Every site is different and every market needs different kinds of homes to meet local demand. Meanwhile, homebuyers want quality homes that can enhance their lives and build value over time. But every investor should consider all variables relative to the house-building opportunities in the UK - an independent financial advisor is the first place to go to consider the options.

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