Using a successful house design and replicating it is a cost effective and sustainable way to build. No wonder, kit houses are fast becoming a solution for developing new communities. As a new route to housing delivery in the UK, custom build is growing in popularity; 10% of all new builds are custom build.
Constructed from a range of prefabricated components, kit houses are assembled on site, reducing disruption to neighbours and minimising construction traffic. Some offer the homeowner a choice of components enabling them to put an individual stamp on their home.
Marmalade Lane by K1 Housing is a great example of how this works. Within this development, dwellings range from one-bedroom flats through to four-bedroom family homes.
With £3 billion available from the Home Building Fund for custom housebuilders, SME builders, large housebuilders and developers; and with the Right to Build Taskforce influencing self-build registers in every local authority, custom build is set to become accessible to everyone.
More information on custom build homes.
There are many great examples of kit houses incorporating timber; here we’ve put together our top five projects:
This self-build project in Oxfordshire replaced a former run-down bungalow with a simple cuboid form assembled from a flat-pack of structural insulated timber panels.
The house was such a successful design that it became a prototype for the Kiss House. Made from a CLT structure to Passivhaus standards, the Kiss House is available as a 2, 3 or 4-bedroom home. Teaming together to make these beautiful homes are Adrian James Architects, Trunk Low Energy Building, and WARM Low Energy Building.
White Design and Modcell developed the TAM, a zero-carbon home that doesn’t require a mortgage or planning consent. The clever design means it’s covered by the Caravan Act.
Constructed from straw bale and timber, it is a healthy home in a small but well-planned space that still meets the minimum 60-year design life as expected with a conventional home.
Wudl offers a few variations of small dwellings which it calls micro-buildings. Available in three different sizes and designs suitable for small homes, holiday homes, small offices or playrooms, the structures are made up of prefabricated timber sections.
There are many customisable options and sustainability is high on the agenda. Wudl has gone beyond taking individual orders and is involved with two custom build developments – Heartlands in Cornwall, and Graven Hill in Bicester.
Read our interview with Heartlands developers Igloo Regeneration
Established by Sodra, Sweden’s largest forest-owner association, Trivselhus encompasses all that is great about Swedish housebuilding. The timber frames are built in a factory in just 8-12 weeks and then taken to site where they are installed within a week.
The windows, doors and service conduits are already cut into the walls so once installed it doesn’t take long to complete the home.
Also appealing to developers, building a Trivselhus requires a smaller team on-site and is less affected by bad weather than traditional builds.
A partnership between developer TOWN and Trivselhus, TOWNhus delivers homes at Maramalade cohousing scheme in Cambridge.
Read our interview with developers TOWN
This architect firm has created ecological kit houses using modular timber frame units. These super-insulated, highly energy efficient homes cost less than £80 a year to heat.
The eco measures don’t stop at heating as there are custom options that include compost toilets and rainwater collection points; and for the garden choices include habitats for encouraging natural ecosystems, micro-climates, food production and a mini forest garden.
The architects responsible for the schemes above are conscious of a responsibility to not only build in a sustainable way but also to make homes healthier.
As timber is a renewable, carbon-sequestering material, when incorporated into home design it embraces circular economy ideology. That’s what the following architectural practices, both based in the Highlands of Scotland, have done. Further modular house types can be found in The Modern Timber House in the UK.
Dualchas creates homes that are moody, sophisticated and blend into the topography of the Scottish Isles. Based on the ‘blackhouse’ – traditional to the Highlands, each home is individual yet there is a family resemblance through the modern yet practical design.
Making the most of the breath-taking scenery, the striking homes are in fact quite affordable and Dualchas makes the most of using natural materials. The dark stained timber cladding to the exterior gives these homes their iconic look.
Carbon Dynamic specialises in modular offsite timber manufacture and the firm has partnered up with Albyn Housing Society and NHS Highland to develop Fit Homes.
Timber is well renowned for its health benefits so it was an obvious choice of material for people needing health and social care, assisted living and end of life care. The homes contribute to occupants’ wellbeing and are flexible to their mobility needs. They are fully adaptable so that so they can be easily altered as a person’s needs change.
The houses have been co-designed with the people who will use them and will help them to be active, healthy and remain a part of their community. This is a great example of how architects are coming together with developers and timber contractors to drive community-led housing.
If you want to get involved with the custom build & self build agenda; if you're planning a community-led or cohousing project, then one of our upcoming Right to Build expos is likely to be the the right event for you.
These regional events bring together all the experts you need to kick-start your own custom and self build success story, based on the Right to Build. From politics and planning to practice and delivery, the expos bridge the gap between those with extensive custom and self-build experience with the groups and individuals who are working towards that goal.
The Right-to-Build expos are presented by NaCSBA, the Right-to-Build Taskforce and Wood for Good in partnership.
The next event is on 10 May at Excel London and tickets can be booked here.
Based in Scotland? Join us on 20 June at Lighthouse, Glasgow.
Find further information and dates here.