Sheffield developer to show off low-cost solution to housing crisis

Jon Johnson, right, of Reach Homes, with Billy Silver and Chris Dawkins
Jon Johnson, right, of Reach Homes, with Billy Silver and Chris Dawkins

A £35,000 eco-home designed to solve Sheffield’s housing crisis will go on display for the first time this weekend.

Jon Johnson’s Reach Homes has built the one-bedroom house out of shipping containers on Heeley City Farm land.

The view from inside the eco-home, which should be finished by Sunday.

The view from inside the eco-home, which should be finished by Sunday.

The home is designed to be cheap and quick to build, and is environmentally friendly as well.

Jon will show off his team’s work at an open event from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday. He hopes people will be impressed by how homely and innovative the building is.

“It’s hooked up to the mains but the idea is to use as little power as possible,” he said.

“A heat pump tries to keep it at a constant temperature with as little drop as possible.”

How the kitchen could look

How the kitchen could look

Jon, 52, from Sharrow, came up with the idea for the eco-home while he and his partner were thinking about building their own house.

They knew the only way they could afford to do something from scratch was by looking at alternative construction methods and materials.

The idea of using shipping containers came up, and quickly took hold.

“We looked at each other and thought ‘let’s go for it’,” said Jon.

The one-bedroom shipping container home will cost 35,000

The one-bedroom shipping container home will cost 35,000

“We thought we could do two but at a really affordable price. Every housing report is crying out for affordable homes.

“We knew there were going to be some technical difficulties - people were doing stuff commercially with containers, but not housing.”

As a former policeman who now runs Strip The Willow, an upcycling workshop and gallery off Abbeydale Road, Jon had no prior construction experience.

But by using some innovative techniques and the latest heating and insulation methods, Jon and his team came up with a workable design.

He hopes his prototype will prove the concept so he can firstly go on to build one for himself, and then go on to build and sell more for others to live in.

The homes would sell at £35,000 for a one-bed, £65,000 for a two-bed and £90,000 for a three-bed.

But Reach Homes has not been set up to make money. For Jon, the key aim is to help solve social issues such as homelessness and lack of housing options.

He is in talks with Sheffield Council and various housing associations over the use of his design as a low-cost solution to the shortage of homes in the city.

“We are looking at a range of ownership options,” said Jon. “The initial one will be outright, but once we have that in place and become self-sustaining, the business will support itself.

“We will make a profit which we will use to tackle homelessness and poverty.”

He added: “We have got to start building low carbon buildings for the future.

“We have got to think differently about how we do things.

“There is no point having a big house with storage for things that we never use.

“In the future we are going to be limited for space - energy and land are going to be expensive.”

Today’s top stories:

BREAKING: Man's death in Sheffield park 'not suspicious'

Missing child, drugs and cash found in police raids in Sheffield

Mid air-drama as packed American passenger plane makes U-turn in skies over Sheffield and returns to Heathrow

Strictly Come Dancing stars Louise Redknapp and Daisy Lowe pose for picture with Sheffield's Women of Steel statue

REGIONAL NEWS: Footballer's brother shot dead outside barber shop

Super-computer predicts Sheffield Wednesday will finish fourth and make Championship play-offs - but Sheffield United will miss out on League One title and automatic

Sheffield United: Jose Baxter offered contract by Premier League side Everton