AN expat Briton who lives and works in France has claimed a housebuilding system developed by his company could help to solve the affordable housing problem blighting Scotland.

Stuart Phipp’s grandfather was born in Dallas, Moray, before the family moved south of the Border, after which he was brought up in Norfolk.

After finishing school he went off to explore Europe, eventually settling in France, where one of his jobs involved bridging the language divide to help match British buyers with their dream property.

Now, 32 years later, he has his own construction company in Brittany, which specialises in a scheme called social home ownership.

This system takes first-time buyers out of social housing via a government loan, part of which is interest free over a 25-year period, much the same as a mortgage. The biggest difference is that if they get into financial difficulties, help can be offered before it becomes a much bigger problem.

However, it is the actual building concept that Phipp believes could help solve the shortage of affordable homes in Scotland, and elsewhere across the UK.

He told The National: “Around two years ago I wanted to change our method of construction to meet strict new regulations and went on the hunt all over France.

“I ended up going with a company in Cannes which, like myself, has 30 years’ experience in construction, and obtained the licence to sell their concept initially in the Morbihan [the administrative region of Brittany]. I now cover all of Brittany for the domestic market and the whole of France for overseas buyers.

“We recently started a new concept ‘Maisons Pacific’, where we deliver the house air and water-tight at a fraction of the price for a traditional new-build.

“The lack of good social housing in the UK is an ongoing debate and I thought our concept would be of interest to the relevant authorities.”

He said their factory was geared up to produce one house every hour and could run 24/7 when required.

The houses are built around steel frames driven into piles. Their exterior is fibre cement cladding and a membrane with a 50-year guarantee. Polyurethane is then sprayed inside, between it and the plasterboard interior.

“They’re manufactured in such a way that the whole house is delivered in one go, either on a lorry or a container,” said Phipp.

“Their roofs can either be flat or angled and with slate or tiling.”

He said a four-bedroom house of this type typically costs around €40,000 (£33,200).

However, Phipp said the cost would be reduced considerably if a mass number were being manufactured.

Aside from the low initial cost, the homes also make their contribution to the environment, as well as the buyers’ pockets, by using a heat pump for central heating and hot water – working out at around €30 (£25) a month for a three to four-bedroom house.

Phipp added: “We haven’t done a great deal of marketing other than sending out a mail shot to various housing authorities in the UK, but we’re hoping to take that further and hopefully get the chance to pitch it to some of them.”