BUILDINGS,MAINTENANCE & REFURBISHMENT built in a factory with a steel frame and cladding -
advising your child on their first house purchase, which would you choose? If you are a parent
Truth is, that unless the modular market offers what would you advise? Be honest.
more to the consumer, whether that be appreciably lower cost, significantly improved running costs, better use of space, imaginative design or striking features, the market will be
Who cares if the developer saved six weeks on mainly unmoved.
site and improved their cash flow if the house is
estate?Who's bothered that the quality control is the same price as a Redrow one on the next
better on an off-site constructed property if the
and a wardrobe? The buyer is. Generation rent is. second bedroom is still too small to have a bed
Having been fortunate enough to be a property developer before I started Discrete Heat
Answer: make a big one in property first and then (Question: how do you make a small fortune?
importance of the details. Does the bedroom invest in manufacturing..) I think I learnt the
your underpants eating cheesyWotsits without you going to put the settee? Can you slouch in drawers?When you mount the telly, where are door swing the right way to avoid a chest of
building to lilliputian proportions but can make a usable space doesn't necessarily mean you are the neighbours... you get the idea.Ma
modest room more amenable to modern living. I actually lived in one week just to see wh
ere the 'pinch points' were. I of my first apartments for a
learnt a lot, and what I learnt I put into future projects. In 10 years, and 150 properties, I have never had a letting void.
My biggest bug bear were the radiators - in a 60-80m2 apartment, wall and floor space is a ever I tried to put them, it on furniture layout and
negatively impacted premium, and wher
Image courtesy of the N-house which features ThermaSkirt skirting board heating.
usable floor space. No problem: I'll try heating. But the impact on the build p the limitations on subsequent floor coverings means it doesn't always do what it says on the tin. Cue: DiscreteHeat. A barmy idea for heating in the skirting boards, sketched out on the back of a fag packet in the pub. 10 years, 40,000 systems and £1m investment later we're finally getting through. Like I said; how to make a small fortune..
rogram and underfloor
finished skirting heating in a room kit - simply plug'n'play. "You would like to have an automatic loading and bar-coding cross cut sawing machine Sir? Certainly: that will be £80,000 please."
And the orders are coming.
One of the commonest questions I have had in the last 18 months at any technical/d/design/pricing meeting with a modular manufacturer is "Have you got the capacity to keep up with our d
Design after design, re-costing after re-costing, prototype after prototype. I feel like Delia Smith with a megaphone at half time "Where are ya? Lets be 'avin you!" (If you're reading this in the USA and wondering who the hell is Delia Smith, just Google: Delia Smith Norwich City Soccer Team).
Guess what: we're seeing many of these lovely 21st Century, ultra efficient, sleek and modern modular houses kitted out with...radiators. 19th Century technology. Old wine in new bottles. Given that the maximum width of a transportable module is around 4.5m (about 15 feet in old money) space is even more of a premium in a modular home. Never mind: theMarketing Geeks can airbrush them awkward radiators out of the rochure and website images (I kid you not; that's een done). Is that fair? Is that even legal? Have any of the designers ever lived in one; even for a week?
In the meantime we have invested in our manufacturing in order to meet the promised deluge of orders.With modular being
ImImage courtes Th
esy ThermaSkirt skirti
sy of LeskoModulalar wh ting board heating.
May 2019 whicich fe feature res
manufactured to much more tighter, repeatable tolerances than traditional build, we can semi- automate the process and provide pre-cut and
"Errrr... yes. Can we have the demand please". emand".
But: Surprise Surprise: It's the supposedly fuddy duddy traditional build market that's embraced the concept. Remember them: the stuck in the mud, dyed in the wool, stick to your knitting ludites that would be swept away by the modular/offsite/v/volumetric manufacturers who would show 'em who's boss? And whilst there are several big modular players doing very nicely thank you, there are many that are frankly dreaming.
So where do we stand?Well like many
potential purchasers and decision makers, we're hedging our bets.We've got thousands of new build apartments in and a few hundred
in modular.Which way do we the pipeline - all traditional
think it's going to go?Well as an innovator and a believer in disruptive technology I think modular / offsite construction will become more important in the building sector, but not as far and as fast as anyone would like.
TheMark Farmer report writ large the challenges facing construction and that the industry must adapt or die; but that can't be solely for the benefit of the
developer/investor/manufacturer; it has to offer real benefits to the occupant, whether they own it or not. Simply repackaging the same old technology into a new shell that just happens to be built in a shiny new factory is not a great story to sell.
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