Ikea to build pounds 7,500 homes

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The Independent Online
A REVOLUTION in the housing market looks likely to sweep into Britain from Scandinavia, with buyers able to find a home for as little as pounds 7,500.

Ikea, the multinational furniture retailer, is considering taking on the British house-building market. Its prefabricated units can be put up in three weeks at a fraction of the cost of a house built by traditional methods.

For less than the price of a new car, Ikea hopes to provide two-bedroom flats with fitted kitchen and shower room. Each flat comes with a private garden, parking space and shed.

Working in partnership with the construction company Skanska, the firm has already revolutionised its home market and is "seriously considering" branching into Britain. Anders Larsson, project manager for Skanska, is convinced UK buyers will accept the idea of the ready-made home. He expects to begin discussions with Ikea and Skanska UK this autumn.

He says the flats will be more than a match for Britain's inclement weather, having survived Scandinavian snows: "These houses may be built of wood, but there is no doubt they can stand up to everything that a Swedish winter has to offer. We manage to keep them cheap by buying materials in bulk and at very low prices."

The Swedish developments, known as Live Smart or Bo Klok, are made up of 36 properties in two-storey, L-shaped blocks of six flats apiece. Offering up to 70 square yards of space, the apartments are not designed to entice families but could suit first-time buyers. More than 300 units have been sold in Sweden.

"We will be checking this autumn to see if there is a market for this concept in the UK. If there is the first units will be available in about one year," Mr Larsson said.