Although we’ve had modular houses for a long time, somehow the advantages never seem to make it into the political arena to any serious extent. The wartime UK prefab served its purpose and was discarded, although some have lasted for decades. My aunt and uncle lived in one in Derby.
Grade II listed Phoenix prefabsWake Green Road, Birmingham
Yet today it is presumably even more feasible to mass-produce all the bits and pieces that go to make up a comfortable and energy efficient dwelling. So why don’t we do it and get rid of the housing shortage forever?
Caravans for example. Modern caravans are produced on factory production lines and a big one can cost as little as £20-30k. Comfortable, easy to heat in winter and needing little maintenance, what’s not to like about them? They can even be quite posh.
Caravans are easy to move of course, so if we all lived in them, moving house would merely be a question of towing the thing from one plot to another. Hook up the utilities and job done. If anyone needs more living space I’m sure they could be designed to attach extra modules.
A big advantage is cost. Caravans are comparatively cheap, so the whole idea might highlight the cost of each plot of land. Maybe we could simply rent plots from the local authority, even making this the main tax base for the whole country. Westminster wouldn’t like it, so that’s another benefit.
We’d get rid of a load of other taxes and pensioners would just tow their homes to a cheaper plot of land on retirement, leaving city life to younger people with jobs and families.
The roof of the caravan could be an array of solar panels and because caravans have batteries, they could even be reasonably effective in a low-power caravan environment. In fact caravans with 12v lighting and gas cylinders for cooking and heating might cope quite well with intermittent power from wind turbines.
The practical stuff is easy enough for anyone to work out for themselves, so why don’t such ideas find their way into the political arena? After all, it's hardly a new or original notion.
Okay I know we aren't at all likely to go down this road. There are lots of reasons – there always are. Maybe the global warming brigade will push it, but somehow I don’t think it is close to their middle class hearts.