Flat pack living

With house prices in the UK booming, Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea has developed an innovative low cost housing solution designed to help lower income families make their first step onto the property ladder.

NEWS, Design

With house prices in the UK booming, Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea has developed an innovative low cost housing solution designed to help lower income families make their first step onto the property ladder.

The company is set to launch its own range of flat pack housing in Britain this month. The BoKlok, (which translates as Live Smart), is a ready-built timber framed home. The concept is already a popular one in Scandinavia, and around 800 BoKloks are sold in Sweden each year.

Flats will be priced at less than US $196,699 (£100,000) and the company expects to sell three bedroom houses, even in the South East of England at under $295,013. The BoKlok homes will be aimed primarily at households with an annual income of between $29,500 and $68,830 a year and will be sold outright or on a shared ownership basis. BoKloks will work on the same principle as Ikea, by buying materials in volume to keep costs low.
 


 

The timber-framed homes, which will be available to order through Ikea stores, consist of either 1 or 2 bedroom flats (at either 46 or 58m²) or 2 or 3 bedroom houses (at either 60, 71 or 81m²). The open plan houses have high ceilings, double-glazing and are fitted out with Ikea kitchens and trademark wooden floors.

The houses are bolted together on site, and can be constructed in a matter of weeks. They will be made from a timber panellised construction and a range of cladding systems. A high level of insulation will be used to reduce heating bills.

A major advantage of the new homes is their sustainability. According to BoKlok: “The philosophy is to build as much of the home as possible in the factory in order to reduce vehicle trips and pollution to site. The homes will be constructed of sustainable materials, whether timber from managed woodland, or by using recyclable materials. The homes will be highly insulated to reduce heating bills, and where possible we will look at providing solar panels, or groundwater pumps to provide extra heating. All properties will be excellent eco-homes.�

Despite the notorious frustrations often associated with self-assembly furniture, UK buyers have enthusiastically embraced the Swedish concept of affordable, functional design and Ikea is anticipating a big demand for flat pack housing. There are plans for around 500 homes a year to be produced by 2009 and potential buyers may even have to be chosen by a lottery. Subject to planning permission, the first BoKlok flats should be available in Gateshead, Northern England by December 2007.

As the cost of living spirals in the Gulf, could the concept of low cost ready-made housing ever take off in this region?

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