Prefabrication as a Solution for Tackling the Building Crisis in the UK

Abdussalam Shibani, Araz Agha, Thuraiya Alharasi Alharasi, Dyaa Hassan

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The UK as a welfare state spends about 30% of the gross domestic product on social expenditures. The acute and biting shortage of housing, particularly social and affordable housing is responsible for the spiralling house prices and rents leading to an affordability crisis. Evidence-based research shows that the UK needs to build over 300,000 houses a year to meet the rising demand, particularly from young adults and families with low-to-middle incomes. As a result, there has been a worrying increase in overcrowding, homelessness, evictions and rent arrears. This research study aimed to investigate prefabrication, also known as modular construction as a solution to tackling the housing crisis in the UK. A mixed method approach was used to collect raw data. As such, five major construction firms were selected as the case study organisations for the research study. The respondents had a senior position in the organisations. The data collection methods that were adopted are qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (questionnaires). The data were analysed using thematic analysis in which emergent themes were identified throughout the interviews and the questionnaires. Findings suggested that the housing crisis is not about houses; instead, it is about individuals. Perceptions about prefabricated houses among the low, middle and high-income earners are largely negative whose implication is that individuals would rather wait to build traditional homes in the future than opt for a prefabricated home. Although traditional home ownership is slipping out of reach for the majority, the demand for prefabricated homes is still low. In urban areas, modular construction is practised on a small scale with the main market limitations being the small size of the domestic market and the existing building regulations which prohibit the use of inflammable materials in urban areas. Moreover, it was found that prefabricated homes may provide short-term and long-term solutions to the housing crisis since they address and resolve some of the most critical issues associated with traditional housing but not limited to high costs, longer construction periods and uncertain budgets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-18
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Civil Engineering Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).


  • Prefabrication
  • Housing crisis
  • UK


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