Today's proliferation of niche housing types includes dwellings that are tiny, modular, prefabricated and inexpensive. Belgian firm Skilpod is producing homes that are all of these things. With the right equipment, they can even be zero energy or energy positive.

Designed in partnership with UAU Collective, the homes can be suitable for singles and older people for whom traditional houses may be too big. Specifically, Skilpod's most recent model, a 48 sq m (517 sq ft) home, was created with these people in mind and to be provided through social housing organizations in Belgium.

Skilpod says it is conducting research with the Flemish government into the feasibility of putting its homes into people's gardens as a means of housing elderly parents. The firm sees this as a potential alternative to traditional care homes.

The homes are also suitable for young people as they are inexpensive and expandable. It's possible for a customer to buy a single Skilpod module and then attach extra modules when needed or when they have the money.

The Skilpod homes are built in a factory in the Belgian city of Geel. They are made from cross laminated timber and are designed to be transported to site via trucks.

The materials used and design of the homes are said to make them highly energy efficient and Skilpod says that they can be zero energy (or even better) with the use of solar panels. Among the other features that contribute to the sustainability of the homes are heat pumps, ventilation systems with heat recuperation, automatic sunscreens and other home automation systems.

Skilpod's first home is currently in production and is expected to be completed before the end of this year. Prices start at €59,900 (US$67,200).

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