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(D.Mail) Ashley Vale based Ecomotive wins international award

Saturday 29 October 2016

Myra Butterworth and Nick Enoch
Most first-time buyers can only dream of buying a home for less than £50,000 - but it is possible if you're prepared to go 'modular'. This involves selecting pre-fabricated, low-cost modules of various sizes which are then put together by skilled craftsmen. The customer can then choose the interior design, giving an end-product which could be an office, hotel, school or house - and that includes starter homes.

The Modulhus, one such starter home, has now been crowned winner of an annual shoestring design competition. The two-bedroom house covers 66sq m and costs from just £49,644 to build. The timber homes, made from fully-finished factory parts, are built off-site - and eco-efficient features, such as solar thermal panels (which are used to help heat water) can be added. And the customer can also choose the roof, be it bitumen, clay, concrete roof tiles or a tin cover.

The price of the project does not include the land that the houses are built on - something which substantially drives up the price of new homes. However, easy and cheap to construct houses like the Modulhus are being touted as the way forward for new projects involving freeing up state-owned land at a low cost to get more homes built for the UK The Modulhus - designed by architects Barton Willmore and EcoMotive - won first prize at the international Self Build on a Shoestring competition. The judges, including TV presenters Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs, George Clarke of Amazing Spaces and Charlie Luxton of Homes by the Sea, praised the winner for its 'low-cost modules'.

Kevin McCloud said: 'Self-build and custom-build will be a significant part of our housebuilding mix in the future. 'That's a really exciting prospect. But for it to really take off we ought to be exploring new ways that people can build affordably and, for that matter, collectively, like they do across Europe. 'The Shoestring Competition is not just a quest to find brilliant new ideas, it's an important petri-dish for innovation in British housing, to find new ways to help get people on to the housing ladder and help develop new models of affordability.'

For self-build to really take off we ought to be exploring new ways that people can build affordably. The winning architects were presented with the £5,000 competition prize by Charlie Luxton at the Grand Designs Live exhibition at the NEC. Mr Luxton said: 'The UK housing sector is far too focused with a few major builders producing the vast majority of our new homes. 'This small pool of supply has resulted in a lack of innovation, this competition seeks to redress this huge issue at the heart of our housing industry. 'The flexibility and adaptability of the Modulus gets to the core of why people want to self build - choice.

The modular design means it can work as a standalone home, or with several added together to create a terrace or a block of flats

'It also deals with ideas of scaleability and delivery that are key to affordability, in-line with the ambitions of this competition.' Runners-up included projects called Half a House and The Self Build Guild - both could also be built for less than £50,000. Former winners of the National Custom Self Build Association (NaCSBA) competition are now seeing their designs built. They include the self-build 'Barnhaus', which was built around the idea of a farmer's hay barn and won the Self Build on a Shoestring competition in 2013.


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