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A Huge Prefab Housing Factory Wants to Shake Up the UK Construction Industry

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A British financial company sees a future in homes made to order

Prefab housing isn't a new solution for the world's housing shortage, but more and more builders are working to effectively scale up the manufacture of prefab homes. Now, a UK-based finance company has entered the prefab market, with plans to create Europe's largest factory for making houses.

Legal & General (L&G) -- a giant British financial services company better known for insurance plans than building plans -- aims to outfit a 550,000-square-foot, $77 million facility capable of producing 3,000 houses or 4,500 apartments in a single year, according to Global Construction Review.

And we aren't talking about mere structural parts. Many of the homes will leave the factory complete with carpeting, curtains, refrigerator, washing machine, and television. They're also supposed to be highly energy efficient, costing a mere $118 a year to heat.

The company plans to begin by building an initial 650 apartments in Bristol, Salford, and north-east London.

L&G is making a play for leading the UK prefab market

The company plans on pumping $11 billion into its new home manufacturing initiative, and has already committed to spending $700 million building additional home factories across the UK.

This has the potential to be a game changer for the British housing market.

A 2015 report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (PDF) found that the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis and that home-building would need to more than double to produce the 250,000 new homes needed each year to meet the present and future demands of the British population. But a shortage of skilled construction workers in the country makes that number unreachable via conventional building models.

Building more homes using fewer workers

Enter L&G Homes. Their new factory "involves no tradesmen, zero," according to a statement from Robert Hall, the division's head of business development. While that might sound anti-jobs to American ears, it's actually a major selling point for the company's home-building method.

The cost of traditional construction in the UK has risen steadily over the past several years as the number of skilled homebuilders has failed to keep up with demand, according to the Financial Times.

In the new L&G factories, homes will be built on an assembly line, enabling a greater efficiency of labor.

Financial services giant to build Europe’s biggest house factory in UK [Global Construction Review]

L&G makes move into housebuilding [Financial Times]

Legal & General to build and rent out 3,000 new UK homes [The Guardian]