­­­Affordable, modular, fast and flexible?

NHouse is a new flexible, modular home design being pioneered by award-winning architect Richard Hywel Evans, who is hoping to make waves in UK housebuilding with a contemporary style allied to short build times and affordability.

The nHouse modular solution was launched recently at MIPIM in Cannes. With prefabricated housing again high on the agenda as a much-vaunted solution to the volume housing needed to solve the UK’s housing crisis, reports are that the house received positive industry acclaim in the south of France.

With the ’n’ in the name standing for new, the nHouse is being hailed as a genuinely innovative design model for off-site construction. Unlike many of what Hywel Evans describes as “space-restricted, often featureless” homes of the present, the nHouse offers not only spacious but “tech-packed” accommodation, with what he claims are ‘Grand Designs’ levels of styling.

Aimed firmly at addressing the UK’s housing problem in the mainstream however, the nHouse has been designed to cost £190,000, and takes just three days to construct once on site.

Off-site benefits

The team behind the nHouse, which will be built in a factory in “the East of England” argues that little has changed from Victorian brick-built design in modern housebuilding, and that it offers what is claimed to be a fresh approach.

Britain certainly retains an adherence to bricks, and while many customers appreciate that their house has been built quite literally brick by brick, this is a relatively slow and arduous process. It is also one which many countries have long since begun to leave behind, making way for the modular housing revolution.

Off site construction has long been hailed as the up and coming solution to speedy and efficient builds, but housebuilders have been slow to take up the method. While other countries have time and time again proved the benefits of building modular houses, housebuilders in the UK have been, as ever, reserved when introducing the new technology. In Germany for example, over 100,000 homes are built this way every year.

The Architect’s view

With the housing crisis growing, many in the industry believe it is no longer viable to rest on our laurels, and progress must be made to speed up builds if the UK is to reach its ambitious target of 250,000 homes a year. This is where innovators such as Evans and his nHouse are leading the way towards a speedier, efficient delivery future.

He continues: “There seems to be little thought put into to how a home must be at the heart of a community,” with builders and designers often forgetting “how a good home helps a family and supports its occupants realise and fulfil their dreams.”

A new approach

Richard Hywel Evans holds that nHouse has some key benefits that set it apart: “I designed the nHouse as I wanted to put design first and see if we can build a home that makes people happy and yet still allows the building industry to make a significant profit.”

“By utilising the latest technology and materials,” he continues, “we have built a home which puts space, light and design at the forefront.”

He concludes: “The nHouse could help provide more homes by significantly speeding up the building process and providing cost-effective homes that people genuinely want to live in.”

The firm behind the project, nHouse Commercial, claims that the house includes more windows, higher ceilings and more space than any other newly built home in its price range. It’s also eco-friendly with low running costs. Its forward-looking styling, plus “lifestyle-embedded” technology and generous proportions, will make it an attractive prospect for many buyers.

Features

The finished product is a roomy, contemporary two storey, three bedroom home with high ceilings. It incorporates lots of natural light and extra embedded technology, unusual in other standard builds. It includes a master bedroom, en-suite bathroom, a spacious balcony (including a mini-bar), a double bedroom, a single bedroom and a family bathroom (including a touch sensitive screen mirror which allows Fitbit connection). The nHouse also has a large open plan living space and modern designer kitchen, with a utility room.

The 100 m2 floor space offers 20 per cent more than the UK average of 80 m2 for new build homes. Each home features high ceilings, a large balcony and open plan living areas to suit modern lifestyles. An nHouse can fit on a plot with dimensions of 10 m x 18 m.

The house includes solar PVs linked to underfloor heating, inbuilt rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling, underfloor heating, internal heat pumps, and even a delivery drone landing pad which facilitates what will, it is believed, be an everyday feature of future living.

By only offering one off-site product, nHouse intends to provide a “greater focus on quality and cost reductions,” to ensure value for money. The firm says a house will be ready to occupy five months after order. “The single design avoids costs and hassle for developers who are often faced when having to commission new expensive architectural designs for each planning permission application.”

nHouse will be able to mass-produce the house – which comes in four separate completed parts. This means the kitchens, bathrooms and even the plasterwork is pre-completed. Even the light bulbs are screwed in before the house makes its way to the site. Not included in the price is a separate carport which for £25,000 offers “future-proofed luxury,” including a recharge point for electric vehicles.

Constructed using structural cross-laminated timber panels, what’s claimed to be a unique design includes “superior construction details” that minimise acoustic and impact sound. In addition to its various eco-friendly solutions the house will also have less wastage of materials during its construction.

Repeated technical specialism and quality control processes means a ‘snag free’ final product, says the firm, backed up by a a 10 year warranty and 80 year guarantee on core building materials.

Flexibility 

To offer flexibility to developers, as well as housing associations and local authorities who want to supply good quality mass housing, the nHouse can be set up as a detached house, semi-detached or as a terraced property.

nHouse Commercial which has designed the project was launched by Studio RHE, a firm of architects, developers and project managers based in central London. The firm has been building award winning, innovative homes for over 20 years.

The first nHouse is currently in development and will be available to visit and explore in July 2017.