Housing is in short supply, especially in metropolitan areas. Nearly two million affordable units are needed in the large cities of Germany alone. Wherever new living space is under construction, costs are skyrocketing and the work takes a long time. But in many places things could go differently. Leaving aside the vexed matter of permit application processes, multi-unit buildings could be built much faster— and also more economically—thanks to shorter construction times.
The housing market is tight, and affordable apartments are few and far between. According to the Hans Böckler Foundation, the German city that suffers the most from this shortage is the capital, Berlin, which has an urgent need for 310,000 units. Some 150,000 are needed in Hamburg, and 86,000 in Cologne. The country’s large cities are short by nearly 1.9 million units, including 1.4 million studio and one-bedroom apartments of around 270 to 485 square feet, which are especially popular among singles and couples of all ages. Solutions and innovative strategies are needed.
A construction company based in the Bavarian town of Sengenthal is showing what can be done here. The Max Bögl Group manufactures apartments almost entirely in advance, and delivers them right to construction sites on low-loading trucks. These reinforced concrete modules are more than 80 percent prefabricated—including windows, doors, floor coverings, and even bathrooms. That dramatically shortens the time needed to assemble them at the actual site. By way of comparison, it takes about a year to complete an average construction project with 20 residential units using conventional means, whereas the same project with prefabricated modules takes only three months.
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