Solar-powered prefab homes for struggling millennials pop up in a single day

by Lacy Cooke

An increasing number of people in the United Kingdom make too much money to qualify for social housing, but struggle to afford high rent prices. Prefabricated homes manufactured at the Legal & General Leeds factory could meet housing needs for that group (largely millennials) – and the first houses from the factory recently popped up in the London area. Called LaunchPod, the 280-square-foot homes were ordered by housing association RHP, and were designed by architecture firm Wimshurst Pelleriti. They’ll be available to rent for less than the average cost of a nearby one-bedroom apartment.

Legal & General is an insurance company which is now churning homes out of a new factory – at a rate of 3,500 flats and houses a year. Their modular homes arrive at a location nearly finished and can be set up in one day. The homes are energy efficient, made out of cross laminated timber (CLT), and can be built to Passivhaus standards. A kitchen, curtains, fitted carpet, bathroom, and even furniture can be part of the home arriving on site. Legal & General says they can manufacture homes from detached houses to apartments 20 stories high.

RHP nabbed the first houses out of the factory for a site in Richmond, a town southwest of London. A LaunchPod makes creative use of space to sneak in features that would more commonly be found in a larger flat, according to Wimshurst Pelleriti. But they said RHP didn’t want to resort to space-saving gimmicks like fold-down beds. Instead, features like raised mezzanine beds hide storage beneath, and the height of the homes, which are taller than normal, make them feel spacious.

A LaunchPod is equipped with a luxury kitchen and lounge, bedroom, bathroom, and veranda. They have underfloor heating and are solar-powered, so residents will only pay around $13 a year in electricity.

Neither Legal & General nor RHP would say how much the units cost, according to The Guardian. But RHP did say the price is around 15 percent less than the £2,600 to £3,000 per square meter cost common to conventional homes in the area, suggesting a LaunchPod could cost around £60,000 to £70,000, or around $78,155 to $91,182. But these particular modular homes will be rented, and as opposed to the typical rent of a one-bedroom flat in the area, which is a little over $1,300, the LaunchPods will be rented for between $782 and $912 a month.

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