Sheffield developer to show off low-cost solution to housing crisis

A £35,000 eco-home designed to solve Sheffield's housing crisis will go on display for the first time this weekend.

Friday, 27th January 2017, 1:31 pm
Updated Friday, 27th January 2017, 1:41 pm
Jon Johnson, right, of Reach Homes, with Billy Silver and Chris Dawkins

Jon Johnson’s Reach Homes has built the one-bedroom house out of shipping containers on Heeley City Farm land.

The home is designed to be cheap and quick to build, and is environmentally friendly as well.

The view from inside the eco-home, which should be finished by Sunday.

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Jon will show off his team’s work at an open event from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday. He hopes people will be impressed by how homely and innovative the building is.

“It’s hooked up to the mains but the idea is to use as little power as possible,” he said.

“A heat pump tries to keep it at a constant temperature with as little drop as possible.”

Jon, 52, from Sharrow, came up with the idea for the eco-home while he and his partner were thinking about building their own house.

How the kitchen could look

They knew the only way they could afford to do something from scratch was by looking at alternative construction methods and materials.

The idea of using shipping containers came up, and quickly took hold.

“We looked at each other and thought ‘let’s go for it’,” said Jon.

“We thought we could do two but at a really affordable price. Every housing report is crying out for affordable homes.

The one-bedroom shipping container home will cost 35,000

“We knew there were going to be some technical difficulties - people were doing stuff commercially with containers, but not housing.”

As a former policeman who now runs Strip The Willow, an upcycling workshop and gallery off Abbeydale Road, Jon had no prior construction experience.

But by using some innovative techniques and the latest heating and insulation methods, Jon and his team came up with a workable design.

He hopes his prototype will prove the concept so he can firstly go on to build one for himself, and then go on to build and sell more for others to live in.

The view from inside the eco-home, which should be finished by Sunday.

The homes would sell at £35,000 for a one-bed, £65,000 for a two-bed and £90,000 for a three-bed.

But Reach Homes has not been set up to make money. For Jon, the key aim is to help solve social issues such as homelessness and lack of housing options.

He is in talks with Sheffield Council and various housing associations over the use of his design as a low-cost solution to the shortage of homes in the city.

“We are looking at a range of ownership options,” said Jon. “The initial one will be outright, but once we have that in place and become self-sustaining, the business will support itself.

“We will make a profit which we will use to tackle homelessness and poverty.”

He added: “We have got to start building low carbon buildings for the future.

How the kitchen could look

“We have got to think differently about how we do things.

“There is no point having a big house with storage for things that we never use.

“In the future we are going to be limited for space - energy and land are going to be expensive.”

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The one-bedroom shipping container home will cost 35,000