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BoKlok’s sustainable homes can help solve the UK’s housing deficit

With a growing population and productions of homes being restricted due to planning regulations and land supply shortages, the UK has in recent years tackled an under-supply of housing. The government has an ambition of building 300,000 new homes yearly, that is yet to be reached. Swedish residential housing company, BoKlok might be the answer the government is looking for. “By offering sustainable quality homes for the many people, our aim is to provide opportunities for those who want a home of their own as well as lowering the impact on the environment,” says Graeme Culliton, BoKlok UK Managing Director and Country Manager.

According to a recent report published by the House of Commons Library, there have been calls for improvements within the building industry as the UK have been slow to adopt new innovations. As a result, the lack of new methods to construct houses has affected the number that have been built. “The UK is a large market with a significant housing deficit and the government aims to build 300,000 new homes each year to match demand, as well as keep the cost of housing affordable, however meeting these targets is a struggle,” adds Graeme.

These issues have increased further due to disruptions in the supply chain, such as reduced capacity in manufacturing and shipping materials, caused by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, combined.

A sustainable and affordable solution

Founded in 1995 as a housing partnership between Skanska, a multinational construction and development company head quartered in Sweden and IKEA, the home furnishing giant − aims to make housing accessible to more people. Both Skanska’s former president, Melker Schörling, and IKEA’s founding father, Ingvar Kamprad saw a gap in the market to build more homes for ordinary people with ordinary incomes. This is how the idea of offering quality homes for “the many people” was born.

Since then, more than 14,000 new homes have been delivered in the Nordics. In June 2019, the company launched in the UK, with a new take on house building. “Bringing together the expertise of both companies, our homes are built primarily from wood, using a smart, industrialised, and efficient process,” says Graeme.

As there is a great need in the UK for both more and affordable homes, as well as more innovative methods of building, BoKlok is steadily gaining ground in its new market. By the end of 2019, the company had achieved planning permission to build 173 homes in Bristol, which was their first development. Since then, a lot has happened for the company and the UK continues to be an important market. “It’s an important market for BoKlok because there is a significant opportunity to improve the availability of high-quality, sustainable housing for more people,” says Graeme.

Doing things differently

According to Graeme, expanding BoKlok and creating a presence in the UK has always been a long-term ambition as it is one of Skanska’s home markets. “People do business with people, and you need to be cognisant of this to be able to relate and offer mutual benefits”. In order to do this, specialists were hired to understand the UK’s planning and housing regulations, which meant that BoKlok was able to quickly adapt to the UK market.

Regarding the differences between the Swedish and the UK business markets, Graeme points out some factors that set the countries apart. “Firstly, the legal system and steps to selling a home are different. The UK is more regulated in timeframes which can prevent some of the opportunity to sell off-plan”. Ultimately, this affects how the countries respond to customer housing needs as there are clear differences.

As the UK housing market is very competitive with several large developers, BoKlok has chosen to focus on a niche market. “We focus on a particular customer group and design our homes and customer journey to meet their needs. This perhaps, is how we do things differently.” Using modular homes enables the company to deliver high quality homes at a faster pace during the construction phase.

Knowledge is key

A vital aspect of growing BoKlok’s business in the UK market has to do with its team. “Actively bringing together different skills, cultures, and experiences has really helped us build our business,” says Graeme. Although challenging, BoKlok has succeeded in recruiting the right people to its team, despite the pandemic and several lockdowns.

Finding the right people has been a key factor to the company’s success, and by embracing diversity within the team it enables a broader scale of experiences and knowledge. Graeme says that this adds value to the organisation, as everyone has different skills and contribute to developing the company with their insights.

Bright future ahead

Graeme is optimistic when taking a glance into the future of house construction. As already mentioned, a key focus of BoKlok is sustainability, which aligns with the UK’s ambitions to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050. “Over its lifetime a BoKlok home will have a 55% lower CO2 footprint, compared to a traditional house”, says Graeme. By adopting a standardised solution when producing new homes, the same home design can be re-produced with precision each time.

BoKlok currently has three home development sites within the south and southwest of England, and its efforts to provide more climate neutral housing solutions has not gone unnoticed. The UK Government has shown support to their plans and methods: “It has been a symbiotic relationship. On one hand, they have guided us and made introductions to key organisations. On the other hand, they want to learn from us”, Graeme says. It is clear that the need for sustainable and standardised homes will only continue to grow, making the future of BoKlok bright.


Key sectors and opportunities for Swedish business


Clean growth & Smart City technology


Life Sciences:
Healthtech & medtech


Tech: Fintech & games development


Advanced engineering:
Electric vehicles

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