Pioneering factory assembled social homes ready in just three weeks

JNESpaceCD_visit_10_AugustFully assembled social homes are ready to leave the factory for Highland tenants after just three weeks of construction work, thanks to a pioneering new project.

Believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, the social housing project delivers fully assembled buildings which are ready for tenants to move into on delivery to site.

Highland councillors paid a visit to the factory this week to inspect the first prototype of one bedroom apartments commissioned by Highland Council for Kendal Court in Alness.

Developed and designed by Inverness based social housing company JNESpace and manufactured and completely fitted out by Carbon Dynamic in its factory in Invergordon, the eight one bedroom apartments each come with its own independent access and balcony.

They are designed to ensure superb levels of comfort, thermal performance and energy efficiency and the project partners are in discussion with Napier University to rigorously monitor the energy usage of the flats over the next few years.

JNESpace director, Andrew Bruce, said: “We formed our company in 2008 because we felt a solution was needed to help address the huge challenge of social housing shortages. Over a number of years we developed the concept of modular, timber based social housing using CLT, cross laminated timber, a material used widely abroad but less so here in Scotland.

“We have been delighted to work with the team at Carbon Dynamic and bring our vision to life with them, thanks to their experience in innovative offsite modular manufacture. The Highland Council’s support in commissioning this important project is an example to councils throughout Scotland.”

Matt Stevenson, managing director at Carbon Dynamic, said: “We are really excited about our first social housing project as these buildings present a viable, affordable and practical alternative to traditional buildings used in social housing. Using natural materials that perform dynamically over time combined with innovative design means we can create energy efficient buildings and tackle fuel poverty in a much smarter way, from the inside out. It has been a great collaboration to which we have been able to offer our sustainable modular design and manufacturing expertise.”

Each sustainable apartment will take less than three weeks to complete off-site with even the pitched roof manufactured in the factory and then craned into place in a single day.

Councillor Audrey Sinclair, chair of Highland Council’s, planning, development and infrastructure committee, said: “This is a very exciting way in which we are addressing housing needs in the community. These innovative one-bedroomed units are built to a high quality, easy to install, extremely well-insulated making them inexpensive to heat. They can be built more quickly and to higher quality than traditional homes as they are built at the factory and then transported to site - saving both in time and material wastage and hence cost. The council will be monitoring the feedback of future tenants and the findings of this project at Kendal Court in Alness. If successful, we hope that these are the first of many more to come.”

This unique social housing project is a great success story for local business collaboration. JNESpace and Carbon Dynamic are also working with Simpson Builders in Beauly to construct and assemble the site works ahead of installation in September; Inverness blacksmiths DMH for the pre-fabricated stairs and balconies and Treecraft Woodwork in Dornoch for the windows. All the architectural and engineering design work is by local companies HRI Architects and Fairhurst. The modular structural engineering was provided by engineers, Applied Engineering Design (AED) of Edinburgh.

Off-site manufacture has meant the site works and foundations can be carried out at the same time as the modules are being manufactured in the factory leading to a significantly shorter overall programme. The apartments will be complete and ready for tenants to move into in October 2015.

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