Updated: May 13
NaviHo was launched with the initial aim of bridging the ever-increasing gap in the UK housing market, by helping first-time buyers navigate their way to home-ownership. The name NaviHo comes from joining the words "Navigable" and "Home".
Previously, a job-for-life provided security and allowed people to settle and enjoy a certain lifestyle. The landscape today is very different as employment is more varied, causing frequent relocation to where work is next available. At the same time, the opposite is also true; due to technological advances and the ability to work from home, people do not have to be crammed into cities, and can instead enjoy the space and fresh air of the countryside, where the commute to work is replaced by connecting to the home Wi-Fi. The availability of an affordable housing solution in either scenario, however, is still elusive to many, and this is something NaviHo aims to solve.
In order to accommodate a wide range of factors, we set about creating a system centred on a single achievable starting point – ‘the starter house’. We identified that the property needed to be affordable to the inhabitant in order to empower their sense of independence, and facilitate flexible, transitional living. Whenever people are trying to find their feet, having a certain degree of flexibility is essential. We were inspired by the Tiny House Movement and the sense of freedom it gives people. We aim to bring the spirit of the movement forward as we help people forge a path towards achieving a sustainable way of living and a route to property ownership.
As we continued along our own journey, our paths crossed with renowned architect, Bill Dunster O.B.E., who had drawn up plans for a starter building aimed at achieving similar goals. Bill’s designs are focused on providing the best solution with the lowest environmental impact possible. It became clear that by working with Bill and adding his Rightsized (Ltd) solution to the NaviHo ecosystem, it would create a winning formula.
As plans to jointly tackle the UK housing crisis were underway, Covid-19 washed up on Britain’s shores. Our ability to continue construction was hampered by reduced access to supplies, but luckily in the meantime councils managed to house many of the people we sought to help, by placing them in hotels and bed and breakfasts.
The challenge has now transformed into solving how to house people as lock-down measures ease, once hotels reopen to the public and are no longer able to accommodate their interim residents. Covid-19 will leave a very different landscape in its wake, and measures must be taken to protect those who are left most vulnerable, and those who will need more help than most adjusting to the new-normal, as we all begin to find out just what that entails.
The solution is the production and placement of Rightsized NaviHo buildings. These houses on wheels are designed to sit together to form communities, while adhering to social/physical distancing guidelines. The ability to move buildings easily with an environmental and off-grid capability allows a rapid response to the delivery of high quality temporary housing, and powered by reusable energy. Given the present climate, this creates housing to fulfil an immediate need, addresses underlying key worker accommodation, and provides a more general low cost housing solution.
Rightsized NaviHo buildings are a new class of durable but movable temporary housing, built to higher environmental performance standards than conventional building regulations. Each home has its own private outdoor balcony space, its own living room, bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. There has been much interest in the utilisation of these buildings not just as starter homes, but also as luxury boutique retreats and as mobile cafes and shops. The immediate utility, however is one of significant importance and fulfils a role as short term NHS emergency health worker housing.
Learning our lessons from Covid-19, it is important to make available emergency accommodation units that can be quickly and easily deployed. The advantage of constructing buildings in flat-pack form means that a large reserve of accommodation can be more easily stored, and is comparatively quick to assemble and deliver when needed. The current emergency-response model sleeps up to four people, and provides a balcony, bathroom, dining table/working desk, and living area. For the current crisis, this separates NHS and key workers, worried about potentially infecting their own household, somewhere much safer to stay. Placed within walking or cycling distance from their workplace, it also avoids expensive hotel accommodation, and guarantees availability of accommodation as and where it is needed, as we potentially dip in and out of lock-down measures moving forward.
Aside from producing a model to serve in emergency response, there are a number of different configurations to provide low-cost housing for families. Different sleeping arrangements can be made to place all bedrooms on the top floor, or split them between the top and bottom floor, depending on numbers within the household. Individual units can also be joined together to provide accommodation for larger families.
The Rightsized NaviHo solution is available to private buyers, councils, governments and non-governmental organisations alike, as a way to provide key workers and other people with a flexible and either permanent or semi-permanent housing solution. We are also able to provide ground preparation ahead of deployment (if required), and site maintenance & management. We believe we can make a difference in helping to address key, localised issues that contribute to the UK’s housing crisis, and provide a solution both during and post Covid-19.