How innovation is transforming low cost housing

Building your dream home is something that appeals to most people. You can construct a house exactly the way you want it to suit your family’s needs and it is often a lower cost option than buying a house that has already been built. In the television series, The House That £100k Built, they follow self-builders who are building on a relatively tight budget. For Heidi and Steven, the appeal was to have a house in the Inverness countryside but like many people, they just couldn’t afford to buy in the area they wanted to live in. With the need for affordable housing being widely recognised, particularly in rural areas, the latest innovations focus on allowing people to build from scratch without paying a fortune.

Eco-homes

Many people like the idea of having an eco-home and they can often be relatively inexpensive to construct if you have the right skill set and you are willing to live in a place that is a little, well, odd. Take Charlie and Megan who paid just £12,000 to build their eco home in Pembrokeshire, affectionately named the “Hobbit House”. The house is constructed from natural materials and nestles in the countryside, barely noticeable against its surroundings in rural Pembrokeshire. They faced a battle to keep their home, having not initially applied for planning permission for it. They were granted retrospective planning permission on the basis that it is a sustainable house with their livelihood coming from the land around it.

Bringing eco homes into the modern era

If living in a wooden hobbit house is not for you but you still like the idea of being environmentally friendly, you will probably be interested to hear about the latest in affordable housing from Cardiff University. They have built a house that puts more energy into the National Grid than it takes from it using new technology including sun powered heating systems. During summer months, the house owners will be able to make a small income from selling energy that they don’t need back to the National Grid. During winter months, they will take a small amount of energy but this will be more than compensated for in better weather.

But perhaps the most exciting thing about this property for those of us who would like to build our own affordable house is its extremely low build costs. The guide range for building social housing is between £800 and £1,000 per square metre. This house cost a total of £1,000 per square metre to build, making it an option for builders providing social housing. It also took only 16 weeks to build from scratch.

One of the technologies used to make it affordable was photo-voltaic solar panels that were fitted into its roof. This allows the house to both produce energy and be lit naturally, as well as being cheaper than putting traditional solar panels on top of the roof. The solar power is used, along with battery storage for running the hot water, ventilation, electric power and heating systems. There is also a store for warm water.

The house is not only zero carbon but is affordable for the masses. This may be the future of eco and affordable housing and zero electricity bills might not be as far away as we think.

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