At roughly the same time, an episode of Grand Designs featured architect Patrick Bradley’s “Grillah Water House”.
Taking inspiration from that and adding in Passivhaus-style energy efficiency produced plans for a 3000’sq container-based home for less than £100,000. In a revelatory moment Jon realised that by scaling the plans down he was on to a really credible solution to affordable housing.
Applying for a grant to build a prototype he was lucky enough to meet sustainability guru Dr Paul Chatterton from Leeds University and the challenge became real. Once complete, the one-bed studio home that was constructed from one 40’ container, solar panels and 84% recycled materials soon became Jon’s home. After nearly 2 years free of fuel bills living on the local Heeley City Farm the concept was proved.
Another build further down the line and REACH is proving popular with potential customers, but has hit many barriers with funding and availability of land. “These are the very issues that contribute to the housing crisis" says Jon “it’s an artificial construct and one that I am determined to change. People need decent and truly affordable housing and it has to be sustainable – I wish someone would realise why that isn’t happening”.
REACH has plans to build up to 6000 homes per year in offsite facilities around the country, using modern construction methods (MMC) and cutting-edge materials alongside the reclaim. It will set up a sustainable building academy, and plans to regenerate brownfield sites include wildlife havens, live-work spaces, community hubs and pool electric vehicles.
REACH professes to be “Our Future, Built Better”. A 1-bed studio will see bills that are 90% less than those in average homes and the cost to buy one of these homes is also far lower. The beautiful, secure and robust homes will certainly give most of the existing ‘affordable’ housing a run for its money.
It’s possible to build in an environmentally-friendly way, despite what the building industry will tell you.
It’s possible to build on a non-profit basis.
There’s a desperate need to completely disrupt and redesign the whole planning process and those that have vested interests in it, so that housing gets done for people and not to people.
- It will be a full impact assessment – we eventually plan to measure every aspect of it, including energy efficiency, environmental impact, post occupancy evaluation of the homes, number of homes built.