Actis welcomes Ikea and Skanska's planned low cost housing move to the UK
A plan by Swedish home decor giant IKEA and construction wizard Skanska to bring their low cost sustainable off-site housing model to the UK has been welcomed by insulation specialist Actis.
The Scandi heroes will be championing their revolutionary BoKlok housing initiative at this month's annual Chartered Institute of Housing Conference in Manchester.
And as official flag wavers for the timber frame industry – for its speed of construction, sustainable credentials, potential to ease the chronic housing shortage and ability to counteract the construction industry skills shortage – the new concept is being lauded by Actis.
It would be an understatement to say that Actis is enthusiastic about off-site construction. It is perhaps evangelistic in its passion for such construction methods and works with an increasing number of timber frame specialists in England and Scotland.
It is also something of an expert when it comes to Scandinavian off-site manufacture and is the insulation provider of choice for Swedish timber framer Scandia-Hus. So it has plenty of expertise in the forward thinking ways of the officially acknowledged happiest countries in the world.
BoKlok UK vice-president Henrik Johnnson will stress, when he details the benefits of his company's concept at the conference, that key factors to the success and sustainability of the future housing market are more housing choice, improved quality and increased efficiency. His aim is to create homes which suit the pockets of those on average incomes.
"Modern methods of construction can deliver on all of these, which is why investments in off-site solutions have increased significantly," he said.
The company has built 11,000 homes so far in Sweden, Norway and Finland using sustainable off-site manufacturing methods, giving more people the opportunity to own a quality, sustainable home, at a lower price than the current market value.
"BoKlok homes are built using a smart, industrialised and efficient process that produces high-quality, environmentally sensitive housing at a low price," he explained.
"BoKlok has nothing to do with "flat-packs"; it is about completed quality homes manufactured off-site."
Economies of scale
Buying materials in large quantities enables the Ikea/Skanska marriage to benefit from economies of scale and it offers, in true Ikea style, a small selection of clean line designs which reduce upfront costs. Its one to four bedroom apartments and terraced houses are finished in white paint and plain tiles. Its Swedish incarnations all benefit from solar panels.
"In Sweden, our calculations show that a BoKlok multifamily house generates half the carbon emissions compared to the average of a newly produced multi-family house," said Henrik.
"We will use the same means of production for the UK market and hence it is a reasonable to think that the result would be the same in the UK. Transportation of the modules is a very small part of the total emissions.
"In a world with finite resources we do as much as possible to minimise our impact on the environment, which is why we build in wood – the most climate neutral and natural building material. Building in a factory lowers our environmental impact, especially as we use timber frames. We recycle most of our leftover materials; less than one percent gets thrown away. And our carbon footprint is less than half that of normal building projects. All of this makes us more sustainable and more cost effective.
"Our housing areas are relatively small with leafy areas where people can meet in a natural way. They are always close to public transport, shops and other public amenities. We help our customers live more sustainably, whether that means saving energy and water or how they can find cleaning products without any harmful chemicals.
"Perhaps most important of all, we don't build any unnecessary square metres. We create smart space, not show-off space. Every square meter we don't build reduces our environmental impact.
"Our goal is a low price with meaning. That's something entirely different from building cheaply.
"We build most of our houses inside, which reduces the risk of weather damage. We build with care to show respect for the people who will move in and we build smart using natural and environmentally friendly materials.
"Because we've perfected our process we are one of the fastest companies in the industry. No one else can build and deliver a quality home, ready to move into as fast as us. As soon as we've found the right piece of land we don't waste any time. This means less disruption for local residents and fewer risks for the builders."
Actis Regional Sales Director Jemma Harris, whose company already works with Swedish timber framer Scandia-Hus, welcomes the imminent arrival of sustainable low cost Nordic construction duo Ikea and Skanska to the UK shores.
Actis regional sales director Jemma Harris is particularly excited about the latest forward thinking off-site specialist to throw its hat into the ring.
"We welcome initiatives aimed at addressing the housing crisis and the construction industry skills shortage while improving the environment. Here is another wonderful example of construction organisations being proactive, thinking outside the box and looking at new and innovative ways of creating the homes we need."
Housing 2019 takes place at Manchester Central Convention Complex from June 25 to 27.
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