An interview with Oliver Rehm, CEO of Baufritz UK
Based in Cambridge since 2006, Baufritz UK uses sustainable timber to construct state-of-the-art, ecological homes. For over a century, this family-run company has maintained a stellar reputation for building houses of exceptional quality in Germany, and is a true asset to the UK market. The Luxury Report caught up with Oliver Rehm, CEO of Baufritz UK to learn more about this pioneering manufacturer.
Outline the philosophy behind Baufritz.
Oliver Rehm: Our origins date back to the 1890s. So you could say that over 115 years of experience and technique is built into each of our timber-framed homes. This is why we are regarded as one of the most innovative eco-home manufacturers in Europe. As a manufacturer, rather than a builder, our homes are created within our factory as modules, before being shipped to site for erection. As eco-builders, we only use natural material in the construction of our houses, and through our innovation, waste wood is repurposed as insulation material. Our high standing within the marketplace is reflected by our successful entry into the UK in 2006, and is reinforced by the wide-ranging recognition we have received over the years. This includes the recent award for “Best Off-Site Manufactured Home” from Build It Magazine in 2019.
We are heavily influenced by the traditional materials used to construct alpine buildings. Such regions are home to some pretty unforgiving weather conditions and houses must be well built if they are to stand the test of time. Spruce and larch are the primary materials used, both of which are renowned for their hardiness. All of our fixtures and fittings are designed to last a very long time.
In your opinion, what unites your clients?
Our clients come from a range of different backgrounds, but if there is one thing they all have in common, it is that they all totally understand our philosophy – they understand the benefits of a prefabricated house in terms of build quality and speed of construction. The fact that all of our houses are constructed from natural materials and do not contain harmful chemicals has been a significant driver behind our clients’ decision to select Baufritz.
We are amazed by the variety of builds that people create. From luxury beach houses and starter family homes, to once in a lifetime statement houses. Every possible architectural style can be seen in our portfolio. For example, over recent years there has been something of a revival in the Bauhaus movement (an architectural philosophy that originated in Germany in 1919) which has resulted in Baufritz seeing a number of UK customers creating houses in this style. Bauhaus gained extra popularity when it celebrated its centenary year in 2019.
How does your build process work?
It is unique, and the outcome is that no two Baufritz houses are ever the same. We have developed our six-step process, which allows clients to control their home-building journey. We start by taking some of their conceptual ideas and developing them into architectural designs. Baufritz’s dedicated team supports clients right through the planning process. Once planning is approved, we are able to manufacture and erect the building using our manufacturing and construction teams. We are able to deliver either a full turnkey solution managing all aspects of the construction, or we deliver just the shell made up of walls and roof, with the client responsible for the internal fit-out. We are continuously developing our house designs, materials and manufacturing methods. Our design centre in Germany allows clients to choose their interiors, from tiles to taps, after thorough consultation with our design team. Our clients often decide to include their own customised elements. For example, flint walls which match local building techniques, so that the property is in harmony with its surroundings.
The major difference between prefabricated and traditional house-building is that most of the building work takes place within our factory, and the on-site construction process involves piecing together the various modules. Manufacturing using production management and quality control processes results in a higher quality product compared to construction on site in all kinds of weather conditions. Speed is another advantage. Typically, the average build time for a Baufritz house is six to nine months, with the shell construction (walls and roof) erected and watertight in a few days. Prefabricated construction delivers greater flexibility in relation to design and materials. We find this is important to our clients who want to see their ideas realised in the building – our aim is to always surpass expectations.