Having long been popular across Northern and Central Europe, prefabricated houses and flat packed homes are now taking the UK by storm. German-born company Baufritz arrived in Cambridgeshire in 2006, bringing with it more than a century of experience in developing bespoke high quality and sustainable living solutions. Since then, the family-run business has grown to become one of the leading UK suppliers of prefabricated eco houses. We spoke with Baufritz UK Ltd’s CEO Oliver Rehm to find out more.
Can you outline the concept behind Baufritz?
German-based Baufritz can trace its origins back to the 1890s. Today, more than 115 years of experience and science make their way into each of our timber framed homes, helping cement our reputation as one of the most innovative eco-home building companies in Europe. We are a manufacturer rather than a builder, which means that our houses are created within our factory as modules which are then shipped to site for erection.
We call ourselves eco builders, meaning we only use natural material in the construction of our houses to minimise waste from the construction process. Through our innovation, waste wood is re-purposed as insulation material. Our high standing within the marketplace is apparent from our successful entry into the UK sector in 2006, as well as the wide-ranging award recognition we have received over the years, including our recent 2019 Infrastructure Award from Build Magazine.
Who is your typical clientele?
At Baufritz, we tend not to have a typical clientele. Our clients come from a wide range, from young families to retirees, creating simple utilitarian houses to grand mansions. If there is one common theme motivating all of Baufritz’s clients, it is a desire to construct sustainable, natural, high quality prefabricated houses manufactured to a very high standard. Most of our clients understand the benefits in relationship to build quality and speed of construction one finds from a prefabricated house. The fact that all our houses are constructed from natural materials and do not contain any harmful chemicals has been a significant driver behind our success.
Where can Baufritz homes currently be found?
As we have been manufacturing houses for over 115 years, Baufritz houses can be found across a wide area. The majority of our houses are situated in Germany and Northern Europe. Since entering the UK market over 10 years ago we have been energetically increasing our UK footprint with houses in London and the Home Counties. The West of England is proving popular and we are starting to gradually move north. We have recently completed a build in the Channel Islands. We are very pleased that our local area of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk has some good examples of completed and under construction projects.
To what extent do the design and use of materials take the UK weather into consideration?
Baufritz is based in southern Bavaria. We are heavily influenced by the traditional materials used to construct alpine buildings. The Alps can have some pretty unforgiving weather conditions. Buildings must use solid materials if they are going to survive any period of time. Our primary materials are spruce and larch, both of which have a proven track record of longevity. As we only use the finest construction materials in our buildings, all of our fixtures and fittings are designed to withstand adverse weather conditions and provide a very long working life. Doors and windows are precision engineered negating the risk of warping or movement over time.
Can you talk us through the thought process behind the design?
As no two Baufritz houses are the same, we can talk you through the design process rather than the process behind the design. We have developed our six-step process which allows customers to control their house-building journey. We start by taking some of the conceptual ideas and develop these into architectural designs. We support our clients through the planning process using our in-house teams. Once planning is approved, we are able to manufacture and erect the building using our manufacturing and construction teams. Baufritz are able to deliver either a fully turnkey solution managing all aspects of your construction, or we deliver just the shell consisting of walls and roof, with the client responsible for the internal fit out. We are always pushing the boundaries of innovation and design. Our design team is continuously developing our house designs, materials and manufacturing methods.
How important is sustainability?
As eco builders, the development of natural materials and sustainable houses is fundamental to our ethos. The wood used in our timber frame construction comes from sustainable certified forests. We minimise waste products from the manufacturing process and we look to offset carbon needed for construction and transportation. We believe your house should be free from harmful chemicals. As a consequence, all of our materials are tested. Climate change has put a spotlight on household energy consumption. All of our houses have excellent insulation and we use triple glazing, meaning our houses exceed current UK energy efficiency legislated requirements. We are able to deliver against the Passive House standard and many of our houses have solar and heat pumps to further reduce their carbon footprint. We are proud to be able to construct zero carbon houses.
What are the main benefits of prefabricated houses and flat pack homes compared with brick or concrete homes?
The major difference between prefabricated and traditional house building is that most of the building work takes place within our factory, and the on-site construction process involves piecing together the various modules. Quality is an obvious benefit. Manufacturing within a factory, using production management and quality control processes, results in a higher quality product compared to construction on a building site in all kinds of weather conditions. Speed is another advantage. Typically, a Baufritz project takes around one year from concept to completion, with the shell construction (walls and roof) erected and watertight in a few days. Finally, prefabricated construction delivers greater flexibility in relation to design and materials. We find this is important to our clients who want to see their ideas realised in the building.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Based in Girton near Cambridge, Baufritz uses timber construction to create ecological and healthy homes. For more than a century, this family-run company has had a reputation for building exceptional quality houses in Germany, and is a popular addition to the UK market. Our vision is to create homes that combine comfort and luxury with an abundance of natural materials. Every property is different, each individually designed through collaboration with in-house architects and interior design specialists.
The Cambridge Prestige judges awarded Baufritz with Architectural Design Company of the Year after being impressed with the high quality and bespoke nature of their eco homes. For more information about their products and services, please call +44 1223 235 632 or email email@example.com