“Flatpack” immediately conjures images of Sunday afternoon nightmares putting together a miserably cheap MDF chest of drawers and a bi-annual re-tightening of every bolt in the name of frugality.
An acceptable compromise for a coffee table, but you’d hardly want to trust the roof over your head to your (let’s be honest) questionable skills with an Allen key. But as click-together sofas and a new wave of innovative self-assembly design are showing, flatpack doesn’t have to mean sub-par.
Cheap as chips housing
Flatpack’s raison d’etre has always been cost, and that extends to housing. The last couple of years has seen no less than three sub-£11,000 homes hit the UK market.
(Image from Daily Mail)
Probably the first was Tesco’s £9,999 self-assembly log cabin (although the £5 delivery charge technically took it over 10 grand). Admittedly it looks exactly what you’d expect from a flatpack Tesco home – including standard issue Scandinavian whiteboard – and isn’t designed for permanent habitation, but nothing aside from planning permission would stop you living in it.
More appealing, more recent, and not requiring planning permission (it stands under 4m so is classed the same as a caravan) is Dr Mike Page’s QB2, which costs between £10,500 and around £50,000 depending how many mod-cons you want. A living experiment in eco-friendly, off-grid micro-living, the QB2 is designed to house up to two people using ingenious storage and energy solutions.
Even more striking is this “tiny house” starting at £6,500. Designed as extra space or temporary accommodation – the makers recommend it for student digs – it may look like a shed but it makes surprisingly efficient use of the space. And it even comes on wheels if you want.
(Image from manufacturer – Tiny House UK)
Flatpack family homes
(Image from Hanse Haus)
Not everyone can self-assemble their own flatpack home (they take more skill than the houses above) but you can still save a lot of money with modern prefab housing, and it is possible to self-assemble. Certainly easier than building a house from scratch.
Check out this gallery from UK TV for more amazing examples.
Finally, we can’t not mention IKEA’s inspiring flatpack refugee shelter project. Taking just four hours to assemble, and projected to cost just $1,000 – twice the most expensive tent, but lasting six times as long – they provide much needed longevity, privacy and heat to displaced people.
(Image Green Prophet)
This, in common with homeless move-on projects that also take advantage of the cost-effectiveness of flatpack housing, is truly the next generation of self-assembly home.