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Industrial housing design for affordable housing


Good design has long been a passion of mine, I like things that are very elegant and fit for their purpose. but there is one area of design that has long disappointed me and that is the design of the houses that we build, especially when it comes to the “budget” end of  the market where it all seems to be about pretence and artifice rather than substance and honesty. The cure to this issue should be in industrial design  where the notion has always been to get the most amount of usable space for the least amount of money.   In the past I have considered the re-purposing of shipping containers  as housing  and today I have been taken by this piece from the Daily Mail  about an innovative design using what in this country we would call a “shed” some very good ideas here  that could help solve our own supply side issues for affordable housing.


The home, which is bigger than many modern new-build houses, will give first-time buyers the chance to build their own ‘Grand Designs’ home at a fraction of the cost.
Typically first homes under £90,000 will get a much smaller space to a ‘substandard design’, the winning architect claimed.

Mr Green, 39, based his self-build ‘Barnhaus’ home around the idea of a farmers hay barn.

And his house scooped the top prize in a National Self Build Association (NaSBA) competition judged by Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud.
Father-of-three Mr Green, an architect from Cardiff, South Wales, said his low cost design was based on modern steel farmyard hay barns.
He said: ‘Without being rude about farmers, as a generalisation, they do tend to be very economically minded.
‘And you can go on eBay and buy a steel barn frame the size of a family home for around £2,500.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2450911/Grand-Designs-house-time-buyers–41k-3-bed-home.html#ixzz2hGNRyhmH

The problem is though that many local councils who provide building approvals want something other than functionality and affordable living spaces for the people they want the whole McMansion nightmare lock stock and with fries. If I ever build another house it will be something like this with even the internal walls lined with formed steel sheeting, lots of insulation, proper orientation and no need to ever paint the bloody thing…

Cheers Comrades


always use the correct  safety equipment to avoid injury



  1. Ray Dixon says:

    It only gives buyers the ‘skeleton’ of a house, Iain, and a pretty poky one at that. It’s only 100 sq metres and, don’t forget, there’s also the cost of the land, footings, connections to services, etc. There really are no cheap housing alternatives and, in Australia, you’d be better off by simply moving out to the regions and buying an established one.

  2. Iain Hall says:

    Ray its the principles of the design I’m celebrating here, the idea that we can use industrial structural elements to make very comfortable living spaces far more cheaply than the more usual domestic practices, getting away from Gyproc for wall linings would be a damn good start. As for the size of the building don’t forget that it is based upon the British concepts of adequate space and that even if we scale it up to the sort of house sizes that we generally have the savings would still be in a similar order of magnitude.

  3. Ray Dixon says:

    I agree with the design & construction principles, Iain, and yes, as a small dwelling it’s fine. But what I’m saying is that it’s still marginal as to whether or not it’s more cost effective than traditional builds. The way to resolve the affordable housing problem is to spread the population out more evenly. It’s the overcrowding of our capitals that contributes to land values being too high in the first place, so even if you cut corners on a build in the city it still ends up costing a lot more than a bigger and better established home in the regional areas. It’s chasing your tail to think the solution to affordable housing relies on employing methods like using shipping containers & steel sheds/barns. The solution lies in strategic regional relocation.

  4. Simon says:

    I’m not knocking the idea, especially as that’s one option I’ve been considering for a granny flat out that back at our place (though leaning more towards a Bunnings pre-fab. The only thing that’s put me off shipping containers is the worry it will become too hot inside during a typical Aussie summer.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    You could always use what were formally refrigerated shipping containers Simon and then you would have very good insulation cut some window openings and Robert is your dad’s brother.
    In any case quite a few of the shed companies do “grannie flat” kits which would be worth checking out on the net.

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