Components can be assembled to build units from one-bed apartments to four-bed houses

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has launched a new division, Homes for Life, which it hopes will eventually account for one-third of its 3000 unit-a-year output.

The houses will be assembled from a kit of design elements, each based on a set of 3.25m wide standard parts. These are assembled to form units ranging from one-bedroom apartments to four-bedroom houses.

The design enables apartments to be stacked on top of houses to generate three and four-storey schemes that meet the government’s demands for higher density development.

Stephen Stone, the chief executive of Crest, says it has written to every local authority in the country to win backing for the concept.

He said: “The designs arose out of my concern that, as a company, 50-60% of our output are apartments. This gives a broader range of home types and is still high density. It challenges the medium-density flat market. The social housing sector will be a big target market.”

The housebuilder aims to ensure the design will be proof against climate change by using a 25-year computer model that will show how global warming could affect UK home design and construction. The model and brand are being developed with the help of Nottingham University, designer dg3 and manufacturer Kingspan.

Crest hopes to be developing homes next year and to be building significant numbers in two to three years.

However, it is unclear what impact Homes for Life will have on the housebuilder’s bottom line. Last year Crest’s pre-tax profit dipped 1% to £81m while turnover rose 11% to £714m.

engineer Scott Wilson has bolstered its presence in Ireland with the £10.1m acquisition of Northern Irish consultant Ferguson McIlveen. The £14.5m firm has offices in Belfast, the Republic of Ireland, Glasgow, Chester, Guildford, Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Swansea.