A Brief History Of The BISF House

The BISF (British Iron & Steel Federation House) is a British, steel Framed house, designed and produced by the British Iron and Steel Federation, and erected around the country from 1946 onward, often using prisoners and former prisoners of war.

During the Second World War, the Inter-departmental Committee on House construction, commonly called the Burt Committee, was formed. This committee was responsible for the evaluation of war-time and post war buildings.
The Burt Committee looked at the efficiency, economy and speed of construction of all forms of building.

Among the first research topics, was an examination of the possible economies in the use of steel and prefabricated materials over traditional building products.
With the exception of aircraft factories, it was possible to standardise a limited number of designs that showed considerable cost savings, with the use of steel and reinforced concrete.
Following the Second World War there was a surplus of steel and aluminium and an industry in need of diversification following the war effort.
The move toward pre-fabrication was duly made and many new types of construction emerged including concrete (in both pre-cast and in-situ forms), timber-framed and steel framed building systems.
Whilst most systems were intended to provide permanent long-term housing, some were intended as emergency or temporary accommodation, with a limited lifespan as low as 10-15 years, however the BISF House was built as a permanent dwelling, with a projected lifespan of 70+ years.

Sir Winston Churchill wanted half a million non-traditional houses to be built across the country as a stop-gap measure until sufficient labour could be mobilised to create only permanent housing.

The British Iron & Steel Federation (BISF) was formed in 1934 as an association of steel producers who were able to provide central planning for the industry along with vast resources that played a major role in coordinating steel output through World War Two.

liverpool met cathedral (2)

Post-war, the BISF played a key role in the new Ministry of Works Emergency Factory Made housing programme sponsoring a number of new steel based designs including those put forward by the architect Sir Frederick Gibberd and engineer Donovan Lee. Gibberd was also responsible for the design the Howard House and many other buildings including The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Sir Frederick Gibberd

Produced by the British Steel Homes company, the BISF House was a very successful design, thanks to the backing of its trade sponsors the British Iron & Steel federation who could ensure a steady supply of steel.

The BISF house also benefited from a guaranteed order of 30,000 units from the British Government in 194, which resulted in a figure of some 36,000 and 40,000 houses built, over a 6 year period.