North East firm lays the foundations for innovative UK housing project
The modern building techniques of a leading civil engineering firm are set to be part of one of the UK’s most innovative house building projects.
With demand for homes outstripping supply in the UK, experts have praised the possibilities that factory-built modular housing could deliver for the UK’s housing needs.
Home Group, one of the UK’s largest providers of housing, health and social care, has set up Gateshead Innovation Village, a truly unique project to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of modern methods of construction (MMC).
Home Group is working with five MMC manufacturers to develop 35 modular houses and panelised houses as well as six traditional, brick and mortar homes, which will be assessed by specialists for a range of issues over a year long period.
Seymour Civil Engineering is contracted by leading regeneration specialist, ENGIE who is delivering the project on behalf of Group, to look after the roads, sewers and foundations at the site.
The Hartlepool-based civil engineering firm has been laying the foundations at the site and is also responsible for the internal and external drainage, services and hard landscaping.
Thomas Brown, Seymour Civil Engineering Site Manager, said: “This is the first time we have worked in this way – and it is so interesting to watch the process. The main difference is the way we lay the foundations.
“With traditional construction, perimeter walls and load-bearing walls need deep foundations – and therefore deep excavation – to support the load of the structure.
“However, the modular homes require shallow excavation with concrete and blockwork plinths as the weight of the property is spread across the site.”
Due to the current housing shortage, the UK needs to build between 240,000 and 300,000 new homes annually. The industry is currently building around 190,000 houses per year due to the cost of building homes and declining number of skilled workers.
Thomas added: “The time taken to erect a modular house is a fraction of the time it takes to construct a traditional build.
“ have found this project fascinating and amazing to watch the homes as they are erected and complete in such a small space of time.
“We’re all very proud to be part of this fantastic project.”
He added: “I’m 100% certain that this is the future of housebuilding in this country.”
Stuart Dickens, Seymour Civil Engineering Construction Director, said: “Seymour is always keen to take on board projects where the expertise and skills of our engineers will be utilised in new and innovative ways.
“We feel that Gateshead Innovation Village does just that as well as giving us all the opportunity to be involved within the future of the house building sector.
“It’s exciting to be involved and we look forward to seeing the first residents move into their pioneering properties.”
Seymour Civil Engineering started on the project in June last year and the development is due for completion in May.
The properties are manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory using the latest technologies and they will boast features such as smart controlled solar panel systems.
Once the village is built householders will share their experiences of the housing type and technology.