The need for more new homes in Scotland is undisputed; Homes for Scotland estimate that 25,000 new houses are needed every year to keep up with demand. Modular housing is one proposed solution to providing new homes quickly and efficiently, as well as delivering against the Scottish Government's ambitious carbon emission targets. But what are the advantages of modular construction and should you consider modular for your next home?

Modular homes are pre-fabricated homes which are built off-site, in repeated sections or modules, in a factory before being transported and assembled on-site to produce the completed result. Though yet to become mainstream in Scotland and the rest of the UK, this type of home is becoming increasingly prevalent in other countries such as Scandinavia and Japan where more than 15% of new homes are, to some extent, factory-made.

For a homeowner, there are a number of benefits to a modular home including:

  • Quality Control: up to 90% of construction takes place in a factory under tightly controlled factory conditions and digital quality control systems; defects and snagging items are thus minimised creating a more positive move-in experience for the consumer.
  • Adaptability of Design: modular homes can be custom built to a consumer's specifications, allowing more flexibility to stipulate details such as room size and layout and thus a more bespoke end product. The relative ease of adding or removing internal walls allows for a more fluid design that can be altered as the consumer's living arrangements and requirements change over time.
  • Energy Efficiency: research indicates a significant reduction in carbon footprint resulting from this method of construction as construction times, construction vehicle emissions and wastage of material are all reduced. Crucially, the thermal performance of modular buildings has been shown to be better than that of traditional masonry buildings, resulting in improved energy efficiency and reduced energy bills.

There are some clear benefits – but are there any downsides to buying and living in a modular home?

  • Perception: the idea of factory-built houses still, for many, invokes an image of the stereo-typical low-quality 'pre-fab' houses of the British post-war era. We Scots are proud of our traditional and imposing sandstone and granite city-centre buildings – and many need convincing that 'modular' does not have to meant utilitarian and uninspiring, a step back in terms of architecture and design.
  • Funding: the reality is that when it comes to modular houses, the Scottish housing market is likely to remain cautious for some time. Some lenders deem modular houses to be 'non-standard' and harbour concerns in relation to marketability of title and the robustness of the buildings themselves. That said, a number of UK high street lenders are accepting modular homes for lending and one would hope that confidence will grow as the numbers of modular homes on the market increases and their durability is demonstrated, thus making it easier and cheaper for consumers to get the funding they need to buy.

Some homeowners and lenders may of course remain cautious. But with modular homes offering benefits in terms of quality control and design flexibility, as well as those all-important green credentials, they seem set to become a more mainstream feature of the Scottish housing market.


Amy Cugini

Senior Associate