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Housebuilders exploring ‘new’ materials to solve housing crisis

  • 01/04/2024
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Housebuilders exploring ‘new’ materials to solve housing crisis
Major housebuilders in the UK are looking at a range of new experimental materials that will speed up construction of homes in the UK.

The cost of building materials has been climbing over the last few years, partially due to the pandemic disrupting supply chains and then volatility from the war in Ukraine and Middle East instability.

This has led several housebuilders to take some out-of-the-box thinking regarding building supply materials to meet growing demand.

It has been reported to this publication that the top housebuilders in the country are in discussions with the likes of Nestlé, Cadbury and Mars to see if their product teams can use their innovative thinking to address the housing crisis.

One such avenue includes the creation of bricks from the by-products of the chocolate manufacturing process, including cocoa pulp waste, cocoa shells and cocoa crop residues.

According to the World Resources Institute, around 75% of the cocoa pod is discarded during the cultivation, harvesting and consumption of cocoa beans, so a ready source of cheap materials is available.

The waste would be used to create “fortified bricks”, along with a chocolate glue that could replace cement.

While there are concerns of building safety, sources have confirmed that, as the UK has a more temperate climate, melting would not be an issue.

Different grades of housing are also being discussed, which would have different price points, with white, milk and dark chocolate bricks currently being thoroughly tested in factories.

Sources noted that this could also help meeting net-zero targets, as it could be an effective way to recycle leftover easter chocolate. Some sources disputed this claim, as the amount of remaining easter chocolate was “negligible at best”.

Another avenue that housebuilders are considering is the use of prefabricated moulds, which are used for easter eggs and other hollow chocolates, to see if custom-built houses could be constructed.

While this could mean that houses could be produced at scale, problems around fragility are still being explored, as cracks have been found in some of the test structures.

A source at one housebuilder said that the plans were progressing well, but there had been some delays as the prototypes were “too delicious”.

A spokesperson at Wonka Builders said: “We think this will be a very creative and productive collaboration that will deliver sweet results.”

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