UK Housing Shortage

Global Housing Shortage

With more of us opting to live alone or to buy second houses, the UK faces a severe accommodation shortage. While the UK Government has announced plans for the construction of 200,000 new houses per year, with the UK accommodation industry currently under-producing by some 50,000 units each year, this target is unlikely to be met.

The decreasing number of skilled workers will also make the situation more acute: in 2001 the UK construction industry estimated it needed to train an extra 74,000 skilled workers every year for five years just to make up for the shortages of bricklayers, plumbers and electricians.

Could pre-fabricated accommodation be used to solve the accommodation shortage?
It was made clear by Sir John Egan in his 1998 “Rethinking Construction” report, that one solution to the accommodation shortage is pre-fabricated, factory built accommodation. Offsite construction already features in the production of social accommodation: in 2005 one quarter of The accommodation Corporation’s estimated £1.4bn budget will be spent on the off-site manufacture of homes.

What is the UK construction industry doing to respond to this challenge?
Not enough: the construction industry has shown little inclination to change its attitude to innovative accommodation technologies such as prefabrication. At present, only relatively few units of prefabricated accommodation are produced in the UK, with the capacity limited to some 10,000 units per year.

Is accommodation constructed off-site in other countries?
Yes it is. Countries that have used off-site construction successfully include Germany, Japan and the United States. In Germany, nearly 15% of dwellings are now pre-fabricated while in the United States, over 400,000 factory built homes are constructed each year.
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