Housing Construction Today and Tomorrow
The output of Britain’s house building industry is currently far from satisfactory, with a housing shortage pushing prices ever higher and higher. There would seem to be a whole generation up and coming, to whom the concept of home ownership is something from fancy-land.
There are those who claim that governments thrive better on high-priced housing markets, but government also has a responsibility to ensure the population has access to adequate housing.
In 2004, the then government commissioned a review into the housing market by economist Kate Barker to analyse the lack of housing supply and the housing market’s failure to meet the burgeoning demand.
The Barker report recommended that the construction industry should build an additional 250,000 homes for the following 25 years to deal with the housing shortage.
The house building figures almost every year since have produced around 110,000 to 140,000 homes, and seems stubbornly reluctant to improve. The population is growing at an exponentially faster rate than homes can be produced, both by longer life expectancy, high rate of childbirth, and immigration.
A recent report on the Nation’s housing and homelessness, in comparison with all 28 EU states, placed it down at 20th in the league of the capacity of those countries to house their populations adequately, putting the UK lower than almost all of Western Europe.
A look at pioneering house construction may show a way to substantially increase output. The last major development in house building was probably the pre-constructed timber frame house. This system considerably reduced build-time, but offered no great advantage financially.
The growing interest now, seems to be in 3D printing technology. A novelty concept to some, but the concept of a computer designed timber frame house, able to have the outer shell erected in less than a week, was also once a novelty idea.
The technology that exists to print in 3D has, by some pioneers, been scaled up immensely, to create printing in concrete form. A firm in China reports a printing machine 132 feet long, 20 feet high, and over 30 feet wide, which prints house panels from its factory base, to be taken to site and slotted together.
The firm recently claim to have “built” 10 basic houses in one 24 hour period. The future could well be in having mobile printers, capable of being set up at building sites, producing house components from a mixture of commercial wastes, such as glass, and fibreglass, bound together with concrete, allowing super-fast house construction.
While this will inevitably lead to a reduction in manpower requirements, heavy plant and construction equipment – http://www.hanlon-case.co.uk/ – is still needs on site to prepare the ground, footings, foundations, drainage etc.