Why build a flat pack house?
Flat pack homes are gaining popularity because they are stylish, cheap and quick and easy to build – find out more about why you should choose one here.
A flat pack home can be a stylish, cheap and easy to
install alternative to a traditionally built property
Each year in the UK around 10,000 people choose to embark on their own self-build projects to create the home of their dreams. Although the majority of these properties are individually designed, a small but growing number of people are choosing to invest in a flat pack home instead – and not without good reason.
What is a flat pack house?
The whole idea of the flat pack house is to create a home that can be built mostly in the factory and then transported easily to site; making it quicker, easier and cheaper to construct than a traditionally built property. Also known as prefabricated, modular or kit homes, flat pack houses have been around since the 1960’s and are popular in many European countries like Sweden. In the UK, basic prefabricated homes were built after World War two, when there was a shortage of housing; these homes came in standard designs and were generally cramped and inefficient. However, the prefabricated home has evolved massively since then and stylish, energy efficient and eco-friendly options are now available.
What are the benefits of a flat pack house?
Flat pack homes are:
- Quick to build – especially in comparison to traditionally built homes and can be constructed in a matter of weeks rather than months.
- Easy to install – as most of the house is built in the factory it is relatively easy to assemble on site; some customers even choose to build the house themselves.
- Affordable – costing around 10 – 25% less than a traditionally-built house since less on site labour is needed, design is standardised and materials are brought in bulk and assembled in a factory. This makes the flat pack home a good choice for first time buyers or those on a small budget.
- Available in bespoke designs – although you can choose from a range of standard design options, it is possible to create a unique, customised flat pack home – although it may cost more.
- Eco-friendly – mostly made from timber, flat pack homes are eco-friendly and often have excellent energy efficiency and air tightness; particularly the Swedish designs. SIP panels, for instance, which are incredibly strong and insulating, are often used.
Building a flat pack house
There are a number of things to consider before you build your new home:
Flat pack homes are quick and
simple to build
- Buying a plot of land – firstly you’ll need to find a suitable plot in the area you wish to live in. Plots vary in price depending on location, size and whether they have planning permission attached to them. You can check out prospective plots at the Land Registry or using an online service such as Plotfinder; a local estate agent can also provide advice. As a rough guide, Plotfinder currently have plots available starting at £85,000 in Cardiff, £70,000 in London and £40,000 in Bristol.
- Getting planning permission – if your plot doesn’t come with planning permission and unless you can prove that your home will be completely mobile, you will need to submit a planning application, which can cost up to £335. Don’t forget that you’ll need to get building regulation approval too. Many companies who supply flat pack homes offer additional services to help you deal with planning and building applications.
- Secure funding for your build – it can be difficult to secure and manage finance to build your flat pack home, but specialist companies such as BuildStore offer staggered mortgage loans so you can carry on living in your current property while your flat pack home is built.
- Stamp duty - you don’t have to pay this if your property is worth less than £60,000. If it costs between £60,000 and £250,000 then you will be charged 1% of the property price; this rises to 4% if the house is worth over £500,001.
- Warranties - different length warranties are available to cover the materials and workmanship of your new-build home. The price will vary depending on which provider you choose; for example the National Register of Warranted Builders have two year warranties which cost 1% of the property price, this goes up to 2.2% for a 10 year policy.
Choosing a flat pack home – research carefully when choosing a company to supply and perhaps build your flat pack home. Most companies also provide building management services. Since flat pack homes go up so quickly and are mostly constructed in the factory, all the design needs to be carefully finalised beforehand – unlike in a traditional build where changes can be made along the way.
Who should I buy my flat pack home from?
There are many European companies who specialise in flat pack homes; they may have outlets in the UK or ship from abroad. There are also some British companies who supply kit homes - here are some of the options:
- Potton, Bedfordshire – have a good reputation in the UK as a self-build, kit home designer and supplier. Potton homes are made of wood and come in contemporary or classic designs, all built to the highest level of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
- Scandia-Hus, Sussex – a Swedish company with branches in the UK, they produce extremely eco-friendly kit homes in British architectural styles which are triple glazed, airtight and well insulated.
- Haus UK, Hampshire – produce low energy prefabricated timber homes and also offer a design and management service.
- WeberHaus, Hertfordshire – supply timber homes built in Germany which are designed to be energy efficient – homes come in over 100 standard designs or can be customised to suit your wishes.
- Huf Haus, Surrey - is a German, family-run business which makes modular, prefabricated homes; aiming to combine luxury with affordability and energy efficiency. These homes are modular so it’s possible to create a bespoke property to suit each client.
- Kingston Timber Frame, York – design, supply and build timber kit houses and also offer project management services and planning and building control application services.
- Ikea – around 800 of their timber framed, energy efficient BoKlok flat pack homes are sold each year in Sweden. The homes were introduced to Europe 2006 and in 2007 planning permission was granted for 117 BoKlok’s to be built in Gateshead, Surrey.
- Baufritz (UK), Cambridge – is a German company specialising in prefabricated homes. They can provide design, planning, building and project management services if required.
How much do flat pack homes cost?
Ikea flat pack homes are one of the cheapest options; prices start at £70,000 for a one-bed flat and go up to £150,000 for a three-bed house. A basic bespoke Huf Haus costs around £350,000. Scania-Hus, with one the widest ranges of homes available, has something for every budget; houses range from £106,680 to £180,195 for the building kit and from £13,205 to £24,355 for construction.