Tokyo, Japan - A means to address this is to build upwards. While we are all familiar with tall commercial buildings in the Tokyo cityscape, it has been unusual to see homes that are more than a few floors high.
But Panasonic's housing subsidiary, PanaHome, is changing this, aiming to help homeowners benefit even more from their property. In 2014 it made its breakthrough with the first seven-storey pre-fabricated house in Japan, the Vieuno 7.
What makes the Vieuno series unique is that, in addition to achieving greater height than that previously seen in pre-fabricated homes, the Vieuno series is constructed with Panahome's POWERTECH technology, making it stronger while also reducing the number of large pillars and load-bearing walls that are conventionally found in multi-storey homes. As a result, homeowners enjoy the luxury of maximising space within the home and reconverting floors as their needs change - and as the market place changes.
Maximising of space within the development plays a key role in the Tokyo property market as Vieuno homeowners are able to utilise lower levels for extra income to subset loans. This can be achieved either through commercial or office rental spaces, or through high-quality rental apartment options.
An example of this can be seen with Panasonic's show house in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Despite taking on a 30-year, 200 million yen loan with monthly installments of 0.75 million yen, an owner's loan costs can be fully covered by the expected monthly income of one million yen generated from a two-storey café commercial rental and also two 'one LDK' apartment rentals - with an extra 0.25 million yen in profit.
In addition, the premium-quality internal furnishings and options that the company can offer add significant value to the property, effectively helping reduce the risks of leases without tenants as market value for older properties may decrease over time.
The flexibility that Panasonic's homes are able to provide to modify floors for various stages of life also plays a role in family bonding. Building upwards not only can ensure extra income but also provide a home that can suit the needs for generations as the family grows. Through separation by floors, personal space can be emphasised but at the same time allow the first, second and third generation to remain under one roof, providing a place called 'home' for generations to come.