The modular house-building and off-site construction industry recently received a major endorsement when it was revealed that the Reuben Brothers have invested £19 million in modular housebuilder Project Etopia.
It counts as the largest investment yet received by Project Etopia, which was founded in 2015 by 27-year old Joseph Daniels and earlier this year opened a factory in Ellesmere Port capable of producing 2,000 homes a year.
Billionaire property tycoons David and Simon Reuben are leaders in private equity, real estate investment and development, and debt financing, and their latest investment aims to enable Project Etopia ‘to accelerate its rapid expansion plans, with further developments and global opportunities in the pipeline’.
The firm, headquartered in Cambridge, received its first significant investment from hedge fund manager and former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Stanley Fink in the earlier stages of its growth.
Project Etopia specialises in modular homes that ‘combine energy-efficient passive design, affordability, rapid construction, renewable energy generation and storage, as well as intelligent heating and cooling systems’, while the panelised build system means the amount of time spent on site and during the construction phase is lowered substantially.
It says it can construct homes in just four weeks, allowing for the potential for new communities to be built quickly and affordably.
Unsurprisingly, Project Etopia believes Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are a key solution to solving the worldwide housing crisis, and it has begun marketing homes at its first major development in the Northamptonshire commuter town of Corby. The 47-unit residential scheme, which recently saw the first of its eco-homes completed, has been chosen as one of five ‘Building for 2050’ research projects funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
In addition to the new factory in Ellesmere Port and its first modular commuter village, the company has achieved a number of other milestones so far this year, with Lord Fink appointed as its chairman and its board expanded to include real estate officer Andrew Southern, chief technical officer Mike Mapston and Alex Fink as board adviser. What’s more, earlier this month it secured an agreement to built a demo home at BRE’s Innovation Park in Watford.
The Reuben brothers, who were ranked second on this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, with a net worth of just below £19 billion, got rich from the metals and textiles industries and now control a vast property empire that includes Millbank Tower and prime real estate in Mayfair and St James.
A spokesperson for the pair said: “Project Etopia has set out its stall in building elegantly-designed, high quality eco-homes and is already demonstrating how its vision aims to make a big impact to address the UK’s housing crisis.”
“The company has enormous ambition to revolutionise the housing industry, and we are pleased to support an important pioneer in the sector. The day when off-site construction arrives as a mainstream method within house building is drawing ever closer and our investment will provide Etopia with the resources needed to deliver on its goals as soon as possible.”
Joseph Daniels, the founder and chief executive of the firm, said the Reuben Brothers’ significant investment in Project Etopia ‘is a huge endorsement by an eminent investor of what we are doing and marks an enormous milestone in the company’s history’.
He added: “There is no place for poor quality housing in the UK, and we are demonstrating that high-quality affordable housing can be built at great speed with a drastically smaller environmental footprint. With a growing pipeline of future projects, this latest investment will ensure we can take full advantage of the demand which exists for new homes that use the latest off-site techniques.”
With a growing housing crisis and an increasing desire for more eco-friendly, sustainable homes in recent years, the idea of modular homes built off-site has gained considerable traction. Major British housebuilders including Barratt and Taylor Wimpey have ploughed money into off-site construction techniques as demand for prefabricated homes continues to rise.
Daniels has previously stated that Project Etopia has ambitious plans to produce 21,500 eco-modular homes by 2025, and this latest funding from a major investor suggests the company is on the right track to achieving that at present.