Work starts on first modular home bound for innovative research project

A home destined for Tyne and Wear is being brought to life in a Yorkshire factory as work on an innovative housing research project gets underway.

Gateshead Innovation Village, a live research project led by Home Group, one of the UK’s biggest providers of homes for sale and affordable rent, will see a range of house designs take shape on the one site. Working with an external research partner, the scheme will allow Home Group and its partners to robustly compare and contrast modern methods of construction.

The project aims to highlight potential and viable solutions to the housing crisis in a bid to grow confidence in off-site builds within the sector.

ilke Homes, a British modular homes business specialising in the latest off-site manufacturing techniques, has started work on the first modular volumetric unit that will be delivered to the Gateshead site in just ten weeks’ time.

In contrast to the traditional ‘start on site’ launch, key stakeholders from Home Group, funding partner Homes England and development partner ENGIE, joined colleagues at ilke Homes for a sneak preview of its new factory where work has begun just this week,

Joy Whinnerah, Head of Delivery, Home Group said:

“We’re all incredibly excited about this project as it will see a wide range of homes and construction methods being tried and tested together on the one site.

“Not only that, but we are really keen to understand what our customers like and don’t like about living in these types of homes. So we will be monitoring a range of aspects to check how these homes perform for the customers who live in them.”

As well as instilling confidence in the sector to build at scale using modern methods of construction, the project aims to tackle negative public perceptions based around modular homes.

Joy added:

“We recently commissioned YouGov to carry out research into public perceptions of modular homes. We found that only around 50% of respondents said they would be happy to live in a modular home, however, almost 90% could not identify a modern modular product. This shows that whilst perceptions are low, they are not based on reality.”

With that in mind, Home Group is planning to use a wide range of communications tools and digital technologies to allow the public to go behind the scenes of modular builds and see with their own eyes what’s involved.

Bjorn Conway, CEO, ilke Homes said:

“Visitors to Gateshead Innovation Village will be blown away by the high quality of our homes, which we will install in just one day. Using the latest offsite manufacturing techniques, we supply developers, local authorities and RPs with homes which are attractive, energy efficient and designed with real families in mind. We are proud to partner with Home Group to create sustainable communities, bringing additional housing capacity to help solve the housing crisis.”

Andrew McIntosh, regional managing director for ENGIE, said:

“Not only is this unique project creating a step change for the way in which people view modular homes, but it is allowing us the opportunity to upskill the next generation of industry trainees, apprentices and graduates on modern methods of construction. In doing this, we are not only supporting to change perceptions which could lead to the provision of more homes, but we are working to alleviate the skills crisis we face within the sector.”

Neil Graham, Head of Accelerated Delivery, Yorkshire, North East and The Humber, Homes England, said:

“In addition to ilke Homes, Home Group is also working with Premier Modular, Xella UK and Icarus Light Steel Framing. There will also be six traditionally built, semi-detached homes on site. All homes will be for affordable rent and residents will have the opportunity to trial and test a wide range of smart technology products and green energy solutions.”

Home Group and its partners will be documenting the full project through a range of multimedia. To keep up with the developments, visit www.homegroup.org.uk/gatesheadinnovationvillage.