The euro slumped on Thursday following the European Central Bank’s (ECB) latest interest rate decision.
Thinking inside the BoxIt’s generally assumed that to enjoy retirement in comfort – with reliable central heating and all access requirements met – retirees are restricted to sensible bungalows and ground floor apartments. Homebuyers must choose between practicality and aesthetics – after all, everyone knows that character houses suffer from damp and draughts.
It’s time that myth is debunked. While older properties can be impractical for people with mobility issues and those sensitive to colder weather, a home with character doesn’t have to be off-limits. This article explores an alternative to brick-and-mortar that ticks off spatial requirements and energy efficiency, all while accommodating design preferences: the prefabricated house.
Are prefab properties practical for retirees?Prefab houses can be bought as a bare-bones unit to be assembled by the purchaser; as a basic build in which the company provides all materials excluding kitchen and bathroom units and flooring; or as a ‘turnkey’ project where every aspect of the build is taken care of, inside and out, including decorating.
The last option is likely the most appropriate for anyone looking to retire comfortably, without worrying about a myriad of different contractors.
Turnkey housing is designed to meet high environmental and construction standards: consequently it is often both more efficient, and more intuitive, than older traditional properties. With each part of the building constructed in optimum factory conditions, exterior walls are strong and weatherproof, ensuring a home that is airtight and well-insulated.
Prefabricated houses can also be designed and installed with specific mobility concerns addressed, via step-free access, wider doorways for wheelchair-users and downstairs bathrooms: saving you from having to replace original features with bulky access features.
Are they more affordable?The cost of the actual prefab unit can vary: most prefabricated housing manufacturers price their properties per square meterage, from upwards of £2000m2 with a project manager to oversee the work.
Add the cost of land, stamp duties, excavation, planning permission and connection to gas, sewerage and electric services – and affordability still remains an incentive across the European housing market. A big part of this is down to the reduced labour costs involved in assembly.
The need for constructors spending hours onsite, assessing terrain and calculating measurements, is eradicated – the building has been pre-designed to fit the space, so can simply be put together. Speedier construction results in smaller bills.
What’s more, efficient infrastructure and insulation means prefab housing is often better at retaining heat and maximising free natural resources – such as sunlight – meaning lower running costs than a conventional property.
Aesthetic AppealPrefab housing no longer means flimsy fixtures and post-war architecture – advanced technology means turnkey properties can be made to meet almost any criteria.
If you’re a fan of traditional building styles, it’s possible to commission a prefab home with Georgian or mock-Tudor features. Several specialist home-builders offer unique templates to choose from, varying in price and size.
On the other hand, prefab housing opens the door to a whole new variety of designs and aesthetics rarely found in traditional builds. Often inspired by attempts to improve efficiency, many prefabricated units encompass bold shapes and styles; balconies, stilts and integrated outdoor space.
LocationOne of the main reasons people opt for a prefab home is that it affords flexibility of location. Some prefab home-buyers have their heart set on an area or neighbourhood, but can’t find any existing housing that meets their needs; others want a bespoke second property somewhere remote.
Because prefabs are generally self-contained, they are adaptable to a range of diverse environments. A recent BBC feature focused upon several cabins in areas of the Nordic countryside: they are also popular in the Scottish Highlands and can be equipped for setup in dessert and mountainous landscapes.
What’s more, prefabricated homes are becoming more popular abroad. A recent report from consultancy firm Roland Berger shows that the prefab housing market across central and northern Europe is growing as a result of easier planning and consent processes.
By 2022, the number of prefab homes in Poland is expected to have increased by 6.9% and across Scandinavia by 3.5%: Germany is expected to have the most prefab units next year out of all countries surveyed, at approximately 29,600.
ConclusionBearing this all in mind, it’s certainly worth considering the benefits of prefab if you’re thinking of retiring somewhere new. Affordability, custom design and freedom of location all recommend prefabricated housing, while a quick assembly means you won’t be wasting your golden years on a building site.
Whatever your dream – a lakeside villa, a spacious country house or compact cabin – a prefabricated house can help it come to life.
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