Why are we passionate about modular housing?

Swan group exists to deliver homes and services and are committed to doing even more to meet housing need, particularly in the South East. With a secured development pipeline of over 8,000 homes, Swan has a lot to build, and NU build will have a key role in the delivery of these new homes.

NU build is passionate about modular housing because, using precision engineering and the very latest in modular construction techniques, modular technology will enable us to deliver high quality homes, indistinguishable from traditionally built homes when complete, in around six weeks. That’s half the time taken to construct a traditional home reducing both the construction time on site, which is better for those living near our regenerations and also the impact that weather can have on the time taken to complete the new homes. The resulting cost savings are significant too enabling the Swan Group to deliver more, much needed homes.

Additional benefits include:

  • The homes are energy efficient and sustainable
  • Homes can be customised by purchasers
  • Homes benefit from 60 year BOPAS insurance coverage

For us then, the use of modular housing is part of the answer of helping Swan Group make a significant contribution to meeting the growing demand for homes.

What is modular construction?

We are not talking about modern “pre-fabs” here. These are stylish modular homes designed for the long term.

Modular construction uses high-tech manufacturing processes to deliver high quality modules using precision engineering. After the modules are constructed in the factory, they are fitted out there too and then delivered to site. Once installed and the external finishes are applied, these homes are indistinguishable from traditionally built homes.

What are the modules made of?

Our modules are built using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

CLT is a sustainable construction material which utilises soft wood timber grown in managed forests. It's tough, long lasting and used widely throughout Europe and the USA to construct homes. CLT is sustainable as the forests are managed, so that every tree used is replaced and also because when used in construction, it locks away carbon rather than omitting further carbon as happens during traditional construction processes.

After extensive research, we selected CLT as our material because it is:

  • incredibly rigid;
  • capable of being manufactured to fine tolerances;
  • structurally stable;
  • more environmentally sustainable than steel alternatives;
  • achieves high levels of air tightness with relative ease.

The CNC machine 

Our CNC machine is a 5 axis Machining Centre which allows high speed cutting of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). It has 2 working beds each capable of taking a 12m long panel. This allows 1 panel to be machined on one bed while on the other bed the next panel is being loaded ready.

The versatility of the 5 axis means complex angles can be easily machined with high accuracy and consistency. The CNC is programmed offline using specialist software that can simulate the machining fully and maximise efficient usage of the CLT panels reducing errors and waste.

You can see the installation of the machine in the video in the left column of this page. 

"Off-site construction is commonly used overseas and the homes are indistinguishable from ones that are built using more traditional methods. We already have our own in-house skilled construction team and so, as both the constructor and developer of the homes, we are perfectly placed to manage the process of building homes off-site efficiently and to the highest standards. We are convinced that this method will enable us to deliver modern high quality homes that people will want to live in, whilst supporting the economy in our core geographical base, building local and national expertise in manufacturing and supporting the UK modular industry."

Geoff Pearce
Executive Director - Development and Regeneration

Watch the installation of our 5 axis Machining Centre. Installed by Biesse