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Flatpack homes ‘could help solve housing crisis’

Flatpack homes ‘could help solve housing crisis’

Friday 26 March 2021

Flatpack homes ‘could help solve housing crisis’

Jersey needs a “radical” rethink of its construction processes to create more desperately needed first-time buyer housing - and, according to two politicians, “flatpack” homes could be the answer.

In an open debate about the island’s growing population this week, St. Mary Constable John Le Bailly told States Members that it was crucial for Jersey to find an “incentive” to stop the local brain drain - and “that incentive is housing”.

The problem, he said, was that prices remained too high - an average three-bed home sat at the £600,000 mark last year - which he felt could be addressed via the construction process. 

“First-time buyer housing could be produced at half the market price,” he explained, but noted that “may mean a radical rethink on how we produce the product. By that I mean a design change.” 

“Flatpack housing - it’s the only way to go,” he argued.


Pictured: Mean prices for different properties in Jersey 2010 to 2020. (Statistics Jersey)

Flatpack methods of home construction - also known as ‘pre-fab’ - involve manufacturing certain components off-site in advance in standardised sections that are quickly and easily shipped and assembled. 

Prefabs became popular in the UK after the Second World War, as a temporary replacement for housing the had been destroyed by bombs, but many remained inhabited for a long time after, with few still standing today.

Such builds tend to have a bad reputation as they were poorly constructed by today’s standards, but, as St. Martin Deputy and former Environment Minister Steve Luce argued, the methods have moved on significantly.

Emphasising that “construction cost has to be addressed” to bring down the price of homes that are driving young people away, he said that the Government should turn its eye off-island towards some “ingenious” examples of pre-fabricated buildings. 

He acknowledged that “pre-fab will not be a phrase that people will be comfortable with”, but noted that it was now very “different to what was seen in factories 30 years ago.”

A report commissioned by the Government released in 2019 said that, at current rates, Jersey should expect to need 7,000 new homes by 2030

Former Housing Minister and Reform Jersey leader Senator Sam Mézec said he felt the solution lay in taxing empty properties to give investors simply using the homes as “a commodity to make money out of” an incentive to put them on the market rather than waiting for their value to appreciate.

Deputy Kirsten Morel agreed that there was a need to “take stock properly of the unused houses in Jersey”. He said the Government should perhaps consider schemes that would help retired individuals downsize to put more family homes onto the market.

Deputy Montfort Tadier, meanwhile, warned that increasing available housing might actually drive growth of the population, which currently stands around 108,000,  because of the extra capacity in the market.

Read Express on Monday for an analysis of all the key themes from the debate…

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Donal Dolo on
but thats what dandara were here for
Posted by Sheila Young on
Property prices in Jersey have always been sky high. There are flats being thrown up right left and centre in St Helier which is already vastly overbuilt. Population controls are what we need.
Posted by john garner on
My research has shown that many kit homes and conservatories do not meet Jersey building regs which at times seem to be out of step with the rest of the planet making it difficult to get such structures "signed off "
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Prefabs are certainly a way to go. I grew up in one and have fond memories of it. They have definitely moved on in building technique. They would however have to be mortgageable. Another overlooked factor here is the cost of land on which homes are built. We shouldn’t be pooh poohing modern prefabs. People need homes. However people need to lower their expectations somewhat. Many expect their first home to be a 3 bed detached. Start on the bottom rung of the ladder and work up. Of course this also means sellers and buyers are putting loads of hard earned cash into lawyers’ legal fees and court costs every time they sell or buy. These fees are extortionate..
Posted by Martin on
It IS a pity Cyril Le Marquand House was not built " Flat pack" as it would have been cheaper to construct & pull down & save us brow beaten tax payers ( Ironic as Cyril held the Tax dept) the angst of seeing a relatively new building deemed unfit for purpose!
I hope some consideration for longevity is given for the inevitable replacement of ageing Cyril - to avoid politicians deeming the next one useless!

Jersey is renowned for some of the oldest buildings in this part of the world.

I saw Cyril Le Marquand being built when I 1st started working and now it is coming down and I am yet to draw my OAP!

Quite outstanding!
Posted by Jon Jon on
Release land for building then, there are areas now around StHelier which are waste fields, which could easily be developed into affordable housing, but no ,all we get is flat after flat crammed into ghettos!
Posted by Donal Dolo on
3d printed homes aer the way foreward google it
Posted by Donal Dolo on
Posted by Private Individual on
Here we go again, the only problem with housing is that there are thousands more people living in Jersey now than it can adequately hold.

Many of us have been calling for strict border controls on population numbers for decades but have been accused of being racist and shouted down so the speculators and developers can continue to make millions off the back of the working class people that work in these industries. This situation will not stop until tight border controls are brought in and construction work on huge projects is reduced.

Until then you will all have to keep paying through the nose for high rents and rubbish new housing projects you couldn't swing a cat in.

You get what you vote for.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
One of the problems is the type and size of homes we are building on Jersey. Its either crappy flats, that no one really wants ~ but they cannot afford houses or large 4 bedroom houses, because that is the max profit build.
Start a new village, with a mix of housing : ~
a) Starter homes ..... 2.5 beds, 1.5 bath, lounge/ diner ,kitchen integral garage ... in terraces of 6 properties, each with front and rear small gardens. The smaller size and smaller plot, reduces building costs dramatically.
then add a few 3 bed semi detached homes and a few 4 bedroom detached homes ~ makes a nice little development ~ with quite high density, but nice value owner occupier homes.
There is profit to be made for a genuine construction company.
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