KIEV (Reuters) – Business is thriving for a company manufacturing portable houses in Ukraine as people cooped up in tower blocks under lockdown yearn to live closer to nature.
Unitfab, which launched in November, makes a basic house for $55,000 in three months. At around 70 square metres, it is bigger and cheaper than the average apartment, although land, fittings and optional extra floors would add to the price.
For couples such as Volodymyr Sherstiuk and Yulia Paramonova, a prefab means cleaner air and fewer people.
“We were fed up with the apartment style of living,” Paramonova told Reuters. “We want to walk on grass, we want to sit next to the trees. And in general, I think the modern world is moving towards this .. way of living.”
Ukraine began imposing lockdown measures in March, banning or restricting travel, shutting many businesses, and asking people to stay indoors whenever possible. For a period, people were only allowed to go out alone or in pairs.
Unitfab’s chief executive Volodymyr Melnychuk said the company had stopped advertising at the start of the lockdown but people called anyway, saying they were fed up of their apartments and wanted to move into a house.
“The lockdown proved how inconvenient it is to live in small boxes,” he told Reuters, adding that the company has orders until July and plans to expand into foreign markets next year.
Melnychuk’s own prefab home and garden are tucked among concrete apartment buildings in a Kiev residential area and he said similar patches of land were available elsewhere.
While still under lockdown, he gave potential customers virtual tours. He said one client, based in the Caribbean, bought a house for her mother in Kiev as a result.
(Editing by Matthias Williams and Philippa Fletcher)