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January 30, 2008 3:29 AM   Subscribe

Affordability for first-time home buyers in the UK has fallen by 351% over the last 10 years. Never fear; through a deal with the Hyde housing association, Paramount Homes and Scandinavian partner Skanska, Ikea has introduced the BoKlok into the British housing market. These prefab homes will start at just £70,000 (including a voucher for some free furniture) and will probably be built on the fringes of London, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. Previously
posted by chuckdarwin (68 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
We considered a "modern prefab" for our next place, but here in the states the alternatives are more money than regular stick-built housing, for the most part. It's an awesome idea, but the costs just aren't in line. FabPreFab keeps track of this stuff.
posted by maxwelton at 3:42 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am still waiting on the housing apocalypse before buying a place. Not likely to in the next 6-12 months either. I know lots of people with professional jobs and decent incomes who have decided not to buy and when these people decide not to buy then you know that the market is fucked.

I have heard that a lot of the new build brick* houses are expected to have a life-span of 40 years or so anyway so it doesn't seem to matter whether you buy them prefabricated or not as they will be around for similar time-scales anyway.

Also, some of the Ikea houses actually look pretty cool. Certainly better than the twee mock-Tudor shite that scars the landscape.

*There is a thin layer of bricks around a cheapo wooden/plastic frame on these builds. To call them brick buildings seems to be stretching it a bit.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:45 AM on January 30, 2008


As someone who just bought a house today (well...signed a contract subject to finance. We'll just see if that finance appears...) I know damn well that I'm buying at the wrong time. But I've got to buy - rents in Australia are increasing at a greater rate than inflation or interest rates, and we're just simply sick of being frequently sodomised by our landlord. So we'll just try to weather the storm.

As for these houses, I can't help but think how "cheap housing" has gone wrong in Britain in the past. Or maybe I've just watched too many depressing shows and movies set in tenements. In any case, isn't the cost of the land rather than the cost of the actual house the main problem? How much do blocks of vacant land sell for on the outskirts of London?
posted by Jimbob at 3:58 AM on January 30, 2008


I pass this in the mornings on my way to work. shot 1, shot 2, shot 3 - to me it just looks depressing. Brand new depressing.
posted by dabitch at 4:18 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


How much do blocks of vacant land sell for on the outskirts of London?

The ones that exist and aren't part of a greenbelt? Millions, probably.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:18 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


isn't the cost of the land rather than the cost of the actual house the main problem? How much do blocks of vacant land sell for on the outskirts of London?

Yes, it's the land. In particular, land that has planning permission for residential construction.
posted by atrazine at 4:24 AM on January 30, 2008


I have never bought anything from IKEA that I haven't bitterly regretted almost as soon as I've built the bloody thing. I won't be buying so much as a meatball from them let alone a house.
posted by oh pollo! at 4:33 AM on January 30, 2008


I believe Australia is now experiencing the hightest realestate prices in the world, with houses in inner Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane increasing in value by 30% over the last two years.

Perth by 50%

Fortunately for the rich, they get a taxbreak on buying investment properties, so it's not like that fucked little policy lurk will disappear any time soon.

If you's a baby boomer in Australia you did very well. You got a cheap house in a nice inner city suburb, you got a totally free university education, you got to send your kids to a subsidised private school- and you get to complain about gen x and gen y who "don't seem to know how to save"
posted by mattoxic at 4:34 AM on January 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


I never thought I'd feel smug to live on a 1930's council estate on the outskirts of Manchester in 3 bedroom middle terrace that I bought with the love of my life and am ecstatically happy in.

Wait, that sentence didn't end like I planned.
posted by Jofus at 4:39 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can I win pedantry points by being the first to note that nothing can actually fall by 351%?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's just sloppy wording. And even as a London owner occupier, I think the UK housing market is ridiculous and would be very happy for the price of my house to fall.
posted by rhymer at 4:41 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


isn't the cost of the land rather than the cost of the actual house the main problem? How much do blocks of vacant land sell for on the outskirts of London?

Yes, but the cost of land is also manipulated by housebuilders who have a vested interest in keeping house prices high - they buy up land with planning permission for housing and hoard vast landbanks that accrue in value, while rationing supply. After a while it becomes more lucrative to build 5 houses than it does to build 50 - those 5 sell for an enormous amount and the "artificial" land scarcity inflates the value of their landbanks, and thus the stock value of the company.
posted by WPW at 4:45 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can I win pedantry points by being the first to note that nothing can actually fall by 351%?

Yes.

I think the point of that sentence was to be alarming rather than logical.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:45 AM on January 30, 2008


I pass this in the mornings on my way to work. shot 1, shot 2, shot 3 - to me it just looks depressing.

If that's your idea of depressing, dabitch, I hate to imagine what your response would be to some of the housing stock here in the UK.

This is depressing
. Those looked rather nice.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:46 AM on January 30, 2008


I think the point of that sentence was to be alarming rather than logical.

I know. But as it stands, it doesn't make sense and comes across as rather innumerate. You wouldn't say "Man loses 200% of his bodyweight" or "GDP plungges by 176%" would you?
posted by rhymer at 4:51 AM on January 30, 2008


I'm with ClanvidHorse: these things is UG-ly! In the words of the old 60's folk song (which was about some of the first suburban housing developments in the US), these really do look like "little boxes made of ticky-tacky".

Here in Japan the local equivalent of IKEA, which is Mujirushi Ryohin (or MUJI for short) has also started offering a pre-fab house which you can get a glimpse of here. I walked through a completely different one of these (a newer model, perhaps?), about a month ago, on display, at the MUJI in Yurakucho, Tokyo, and it's pretty nice, I gotta say. I wouldn't mind living in one. Far as I can see, the design beats the IKEA house hands down.

But if they haven't learned good design lessons from the Japanese, they have learned the art of awkwardly bad translation that is so often practiced here. From the BoKlok site:

"...for the many people."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:55 AM on January 30, 2008


I know. But as it stands, it doesn't make sense and comes across as rather innumerate. You wouldn't say "Man loses 200% of his bodyweight" or "GDP plungges by 176%" would you?

No, but I didn't write it :-)
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:58 AM on January 30, 2008


It would be great if there was some build your own house college course out there.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:58 AM on January 30, 2008


Oh yeah, PeterMcDermott , I went to a school in Vauxhall, London where there was plenty of similar buildings like the one you showed and that was a really sad grey hood indeed. To me it was oh-so-cool and "exotic" though. Even the utterly rubbish food at the pub was exiting to me. Novelty soon wore off, mind you. ;)
posted by dabitch at 4:59 AM on January 30, 2008


They might want to consider fixing the .co.uk site if they intend on flogging any of these.
posted by influx at 5:03 AM on January 30, 2008


You wouldn't say "Man loses 200% of his bodyweight" or "GDP plungges by 176%" would you?

I probably wouldn't say those things, no. Probably wouldn't spell "plunges" with two "g"s either, but, hey, it does happen, so, you never know...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 AM on January 30, 2008


You wouldn't say "Man loses 200% of his bodyweight" or "GDP plungges by 176%" would you?

I probably wouldn't say those things, no. Probably wouldn't spell "plunges" with two "g"s either, but, hey, it does happen, so, you never know...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 AM on January 30, 2008


Here in Japan the local equivalent of IKEA, which is Mujirushi Ryohin (or MUJI for short) has also started offering a pre-fab house which you can get a glimpse of here.

Does affordable housing include heating costs or purchase cost? A downstairs that is open up to the roof must be a joy to get warm in winter.
posted by vbfg at 5:09 AM on January 30, 2008


ClanvidHorse: "There is a thin layer of bricks around a cheapo wooden/plastic frame on these builds. To call them brick buildings seems to be stretching it a bit."

At least in the US, there haven't been "real" brick houses built at least sixty years. They're all platform frame wooden houses with a single layer of facade brick on the outside. "Real" brick houses are not really very practical since you can't easily insulate the walls and you can't run wiring or plumbing through them. I say this as the owner of a victorian "real" brick house who is trying to figure out how to get the wiring and plumbing up from the basement to a second floor bathroom.
posted by octothorpe at 5:16 AM on January 30, 2008


flapjax... heh..

sucks to snark someone's spelling only to accidently do a double post about it... karma and all...

and...yeah, those houses are ugly as sin.....
posted by HuronBob at 5:26 AM on January 30, 2008


and..yes, I spelled accidentally wrong on purpose..
posted by HuronBob at 5:27 AM on January 30, 2008


On porpoise, you say?

We'll be here all week, folks... try the veal!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:29 AM on January 30, 2008


Octothorpe, I guess I was meaning to say that the new builds are cheap shit and not particularly efficient either. When you go by these sites and see how they literally chuck the places up, I don't think you can ever view it as anything but the cheapest, quickest , most profitable way to do it rather than best way to do things. I understand that older buildings are really difficult to re-wire, etc. but they are more solid and more sound-proofed than newer builds.

I have stayed in sandstone tenements in Glasgow that are a minimum of 100 years old and I would wager that they will still be standing in 100 years time, long after I'm off. I honestly cannot say that about the building I am living in just now even though it is only 4 years old. I would think it has maybe 40 years and that will be it before the bulldozers move in. The new build, with it's double glazing and insulation is supposedly much warmer, but, give it half an hour after the gas central heating is off and it is as cold as it was before.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 5:32 AM on January 30, 2008


octothorpe: Brick and block (ie brick on the outside, larger concrete blocks on the inside) is still the standard construction method in the UK for houses and most other low rise buildings. Timber frame building is non-existent.

Heating and running pipes and wiring doesn't seem to be a huge problem.
posted by cillit bang at 5:36 AM on January 30, 2008


These are my UK housing heroes.
posted by Abiezer at 5:43 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mathematical literacy drops by a googleplex (that is, 1000) percent per hundred per capita.
posted by DU at 5:50 AM on January 30, 2008


"Real" brick houses are not really very practical since you can't easily insulate the walls and you can't run wiring or plumbing through them. I say this as the owner of a victorian "real" brick house who is trying to figure out how to get the wiring and plumbing up from the basement to a second floor bathroom.

Yeah, they built everything so cheapy then. Spendthrift Victorians. Everything they built was rubbish. Not like those Edwardian stone masons who built real houses like the one I live in. Wiring and plumbing is all surface mounted - so you can admire it!
posted by three blind mice at 6:06 AM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not interested in a prefab - I'm holding out for a just-add-water grow-your-own-house kit...
posted by Chunder at 6:06 AM on January 30, 2008


I say this as the owner of a victorian "real" brick house who is trying to figure out how to get the wiring and plumbing up from the basement to a second floor bathroom.

Really?
posted by notreally at 6:12 AM on January 30, 2008


Finally, Lego houses you can live in.
posted by Elmore at 6:19 AM on January 30, 2008


Prefab houses are cool, but these look like a$$
posted by zeoslap at 6:24 AM on January 30, 2008


The price is nonsense. They may be able to build and offer then for 70k, but the value of houses no longer bears much resemblance to the cost of building. The cost of actually building a house has not increased anywhere near the rate of increase of the housing market. This has filtered down to increase the value of land which has planning permission, but the fundamental cost of materials and actually building them has not kept pace.

This is a marketing exercise and nothing more. Assuming they are as good as a normal house, IKEA would be fools to sell them at a cut-down price as market forces would soon see them sold on for whatever the market price is for a house of similar size. Investors would simply buy the whole lot and sell them on at a massive profit.

There is some suggestion that they intend to screen potential buyers and only allow to most needy to buy one. It's a nice idea, but if the goal really is to offer low-cost houses to first time buyers, it won't achieve it's goal. People who are entitled to buy them will do so, live in them for the required period, and then sell them on at a profit. The same thing happens all the time with council houses, where people have the right to purchase their council house at a huge discount.
posted by bap98189 at 6:39 AM on January 30, 2008


live in them for the required period, and then sell them on at a profit.

How long is that?
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:02 AM on January 30, 2008


three blind mice: "Yeah, they built everything so cheapy then. Spendthrift Victorians. Everything they built was rubbish. Not like those Edwardian stone masons who built real houses like the one I live in. Wiring and plumbing is all surface mounted - so you can admire it!"

Oh the house is built very well, it wouldn't have stood since the U.S. Grant administration if it wasn't. But they obviously couldn't and didn't designe it with modern utility needs in mind and upgrading it to modern standards isn't easy or cheap.
posted by octothorpe at 7:03 AM on January 30, 2008


Hrm. Seems that prefabs vary in quality depending on where in the country (US) you are. When I was in California, I didn't see too many. Here in Texas, I've seen quite a few by various manufacturers. The quality is decent too.

I like these IKEA ones. Sounds like a great way to build up more college dorms!

Or.... New Orleans v2.0!
posted by drstein at 7:48 AM on January 30, 2008


Heating and running pipes and wiring doesn't seem to be a huge problem.

Here in Moseley/Kings Heath, Birmingham, the old houses have the most horrific ad-hoc electrical and plumbing setups. Steam punk is cool if your goofing around. If you open your water heater closet and see it then it is much less cool and more horrifying. I've seen all kinds of nasty wiring and plumbing and that mostly in the homes of affluent folk. I shudder think what is in the less maintained properties.

As for insulation. In the UK? You are joking right? It simply isn't done.
posted by srboisvert at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2008


Uh oh. Ikea is cool and all, but I think these might bring up memories of crappy post-war prefab housing and thus fail.
posted by Artw at 8:22 AM on January 30, 2008


These houses, are they made from fiberboard and meatballs?
posted by The Straightener at 8:22 AM on January 30, 2008


These houses, are they made from fiberboard and meatballs?

Yup and you put them together with an Allen wrench. If anyone wants to borrow one, I've got about 600 in the tool drawer, tiny little fucking punji sticks set by tiny little Viet Cong, just waiting for my hand to poke in there.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:38 AM on January 30, 2008


ÜGLI.

Can we just get back to geodesic domes already?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 AM on January 30, 2008


As for insulation. In the UK? You are joking right? It simply isn't done.

Well, who needs fluffy pink fibreglass when you've got the insulating power of half a million rats?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:05 AM on January 30, 2008


"Real" brick houses are not really very practical since you can't easily insulate the walls and you can't run wiring or plumbing through them. I say this as the owner of a victorian "real" brick house who is trying to figure out how to get the wiring and plumbing up from the basement to a second floor bathroom.

Octothorpe, having just played around with something from the 1830s, the wiring can be chased into the plaster and then plastered back over, with lime if you want to be historically accurate. Or you can run the wiring down the inside of lath and plaster walls. The plumbing will probably have to go externally which is pretty normal for houses of this age. If it's on a highly visible part, you may wish to use cast iron.

Can't really help you on the insulation. To be honest, I've just got used to living in a rather cold house. Then again, I now find a lot of modern houses oppressively hot and am perfectly happy at 60F / 16C rather than the 80F / 27C some like to heat their houses too. Somewhere deep down I'm convinced it's good for me and builds moral fibre. Well, up to the point where I put on gloves to type.

Interestingly, the Victorians / Georgians / etc did build as quickly and cheaply as they could (the inner brick course of our house is terrible). But the reason all their stuff looks OK is that it was still all handmade by craftsmen and used natural materials. (if they'd had plasterboard and PVC, they'd probably have used it).
posted by rhymer at 9:17 AM on January 30, 2008


As for insulation. In the UK? You are joking right? It simply isn't done.

Apart from roof insulation and cavity wall insulation of course. We own a rather lovely semi from the 1920s which looks Victorian, and, amazingly, it has cavity walls. Filling them up with the government-subsidised foamy stuff, and adding roof insulation has made the house as cosy as a mousenest, truly. I think most new builds these days have cavity wall insulation as standard so it's more common than you might think.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 9:47 AM on January 30, 2008


A house anybody in the UK can afford. A house anybody in the US can afford. The problem is bloated expectations. But the coming collapse of civilization predicted by just about everybody (for one reason or another) will solve that problem. fuller looks forward to the imminent return of gratitude.
posted by jfuller at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2008


It's not the houses, fuller, it's the LAND.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:33 AM on January 30, 2008


The new Favela's of the West. Better get used to them.
posted by tkchrist at 10:37 AM on January 30, 2008


Metafilter: to be alarming rather than logical
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:40 AM on January 30, 2008


Tha catch with that IKEA housing scheme is that after 'buying' you are not allowed to sell the house on the open market:
Resales will always be carried out through the company which will be selective – but this shouldn’t cause a problem, he says. “We’ll have a list of approved purchasers but we can also buy it back ourselves.
posted by Lanark at 11:40 AM on January 30, 2008


you put them together with an Allen wrench

Except for the niche-marketed Lesbo range, which are strictly tongue-and-groove.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2008


Using exchange rates rather than PPP, £70,000 is still quite a lot of money, about AUD180 000. You can get a nice modern brick veneer three bedroom five star energy efficiency house, with land, for that price in outer Melbourne.

And anyway, as noted, it's the price of land that's the problem. As mattoxic said, officially Sydney and Melbourne are about the least affordable housing markets in the world. But that's only if you want to live somewhere nice, there are still very affordable apartments and outer suburban blocks available. Gen Y are a pack of whingers who want everything, unlike their parents who were prepared to go without a telly or much furniture when tehy were young.

I can say this smugly since my house has increased in value by well over 100% in five years.
posted by wilful at 2:39 PM on January 30, 2008


officially Sydney and Melbourne are about the least affordable housing markets in the world.

You forgot Mumbai.

I can say this smugly since my house has increased in value by well over 100% in five years.

Which is an entirely meaningless gain, unless you plan to sell your house & live in a cave in the bush somewhere, surrounded by all the piles of consumer goods you've bought with your newfound wealth. The fact is, everybody else's house has gained by the same amount (more or less), so unless you pull your money out of real estate altogether, you've made no profit whatsoever because if & when you move to another place, that one's proportionally just as expensive.

As someone who just bought a house today

Tell me it has an inbuilt cyclone shelter! Go on!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:49 PM on January 30, 2008


They look a lot like the neighborhood in Reston, Virginia that I lived in when I was little.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:59 PM on January 30, 2008


Actually Ubu, it is good for two reasons:

1) yes it is ultimately transferable wealth, I can convert it into other stuff at some stage. At the very least, I can get lower risk credit from lending institutions.
2) I bought in an area that's improving faster than Melbourne as a whole, so relatively I'm doing fine.

But to restate my main point - as long as your expectations aren't too lofty, you can live in somewhere close to the city (small by Australian standards, but even then not unliveable) or a relative Palace further out. For about 3 - 4 times the median wage, the typical measure of affordability.
posted by wilful at 6:13 PM on January 30, 2008


Since when was $150K the median wage?
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:25 PM on January 30, 2008


Since when was a first home buyer's house $450 - $600k?

If that's what you expect first up, then time for a reality check.
posted by wilful at 10:13 PM on January 30, 2008


Since when was $150K the median wage?

There is *nothing* under $350K around this not very amazing (although quite nature-y) suburb of Adelaide. I don't make anything *like* a third of that in a year, and plenty of others don't either.
posted by Wolof at 10:13 PM on January 30, 2008


officially Sydney and Melbourne are about the least affordable housing markets in the world.

£70,000 is still quite a lot of money, about AUD180 000. You can get a nice modern brick veneer three bedroom five star energy efficiency house, with land, for that price in outer Melbourne.


Something doesn't add up here.
posted by ninebelow at 5:19 AM on January 31, 2008


I didn't buy a house in Darwin, Ubu, that's for damn sure. I'm moving to Hobart in April, where 190k will still get you three bedrooms with ocean views.
posted by Jimbob at 5:32 AM on January 31, 2008


it could be the fact that you couldn't buy a lockup garage to live in for $180K.

well, maybe you could in melbourne, because nobody in their right mind would want to live there, what with all the dropbears & rodquantocks & the rest.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:34 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


DAMN YOU, JIMBOB - BEING SILENT ALL DAY & THEN GETTING IN THE WAY OF ME AND MY LOLZ!

hobart is a suitable enough punishment for you. i'm gonna call this even.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:37 AM on January 31, 2008


I doubt Sydney and Melbourne are some of the most expensive in the world, though. For a start, Perth is currently the worst in Australia, and I'm pretty sure Darwin is running 2nd place. I'd argue that in a way it is the worst, because at least Perth has outer suburbs, satellite towns. In Darwin it's 100 meters from completely unaffordable houses to military land the city will never be allowed to expand into. The local rag carried a story today about a family who were made homeless - evicted by their landlord after they couldn't afford to pay the $100 a week increase in rent he slapped on them, and they couldn't find anything else in the place cheaper.

Anyway. That's why I'm moving to Hobart.
posted by Jimbob at 5:38 AM on January 31, 2008


Also to laugh at the locals.
posted by Jimbob at 5:40 AM on January 31, 2008


Just don't laugh at the locals in Port Arthur.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:22 AM on January 31, 2008


AUSTRALIAN homes are the least affordable in the world, with regional cities including Mandurah outside Perth and Queensland's Sunshine Coast emerging as among the most expensive.

Sydney is ranked the 11th least affordable city in the international survey.

The least affordable place to live in the world is Los Angeles, but because Australia has the most cities - 18 - in the top 50, it is the least affordable nation for housing.

"Australia (with New Zealand) has the most unaffordable housing in the surveyed nations," economist and report author Wendell Cox said.

"There are no affordable markets in Australia and there are no moderately unaffordable markets. Twenty-five of the 28markets are rated severely unaffordable.

"All of the large capital cities (Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide) are rated severely unaffordable. The best ratings are seriously unaffordable in three smaller markets, Maitland (NSW), Ballarat and Bendigo (both in Victoria)."

Perth, ranked 19th, is almost on a par with London, which is the 18th least affordable city.

"On average, Australian families are forced to spend 6.1 times their entire household income to buy a typical home compared to 3.1 times in Canada and 3.6times in the US, and that's before interest charges.

"In Sydney, the multiple is 8.6 and Melbourne is 7.3, but it's even higher in some of Australia's fastest-growing cities, including Mandurah, (9.5), Sunshine Coast (9.3) and the Gold Coast (8.6)."


More here.

International Housing Affordability study mentioned in the articles here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:33 AM on January 31, 2008


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