Are Flat Pack Homes Chic.

Published: 17th March 2011
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When people think of self build homes they often envision the grand designs that they have seen constructed on recent television programmes. Often the people in these programmes have endless amounts of money and can afford the best that money can buy. This often leads people to think that self build homes are expensive and not for the masses. However with the arrival of flat pack homes many more can enjoy the architectural flair of self build homes which at one time they thought only the well off could possibly afford.

Lots of self build homes that we see on the TV could be classed as kit homes as they often have pre-fabricated walls panels delivered or timber frames which have been built in a factory which are the structure of homes which can cost 500,000 or more due to them being one off houses. The reason that they carry such a high price is their bespoke design and the more bespoke the house the higher the price.

Off the shelf designs, which are becoming increasingly popular with self builders, can cost anything between 30,000 and 150,000. Self builders are becoming more cost conscious and aware of green issues and a kit home suits their needs. This cost does not include the plot which can vary from county to county. The main point is that you do not have to compromise on style if you go for this cheaper version.

Scandia Hus now has 3,000 homes in Britain which came in standard kit form. They have a variety of styles of homes from chalets, bungalows, barns and family homes. All have triple glazed windows and high amounts of insulation amongst air tight construction. All this equates to lower heating bills than your average traditional home.

Another popular self build kit manufacturer is Potton. They are best the most commonly known in Britain and have both a Classic and Contemporary ranges of design. The Classic designs mirror traditional market town family homes but the Contemporary are modern barns or eco-friendly homes which are designed to meet the highest levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The Government wants all houses to be built to this standard by 2016.

A kit home allows people to create a home that fit around them and their families. A self build project has three main cost elements and they are firstly design, then materials and lastly labour. A kit house scores when on all three of these elements. Typically a kit house costs around 80 per square foot compared to 150 per square foot for a highly bespoke one.

Kit homes are often cheaper because there is no need for an architect. Architect fees can easily be 20,000 if a house is built from scratch but kit homes have standard designs and so need little design from architects. Kits are also made from materials that can be factory built in pre-fabricated or modular cells. Prices reflect the bulk purchases by the manufacturer. It is also the theory that labour costs are lower with kit houses because the designs are uncomplicated so you do not need as many skilled crafts people on site as you would with a traditional build.

It can be hard to get mortgages for kit houses because there is a high front loaded outlay right from the very start of the project. The manufacturers often require a 25% deposit up front and the self builder also has to buy the plot of land for the house to go on. 55% is expected on delivery of the house and the rest is requested when the house is erected. This is often why many self builders of kit homes end up staying in a caravan on site as they will probably have sold their home first, but this is not ideal if you have a young family.

Not all self builders favour the kit homes. 50% of self builds are designed by architects and are thought to be one-offs. Some of the biggest self build manufacturers refuse to make standard kits. Huf Haus is probably the most well known self build manufacturer as they are often seen on Grand Designs but they do not build standard designs. Their signature is the post and beam timber frame which creates amazing open plan rooms and with those not on a tight budget some of the houses can be spectacular.

The kit home is opening up self building to a wider audience and to those who may not have been able to afford it before. In the near future you may see more kit homes being built on your street corner.

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