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A Sheffield-based eco-homes builder is on track to increase its workforce and increase the number of homes to be constructed in Sheffield over the next 12 months following a £10,000 investment from UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE). 

REACH Homes, initiated by former police officer Jon Johnson and established in 2016 to provide a feasible solution to the housing crisis, received the funds following participation in the Y-Accelerator start-up programme.

The company, which is set to build one, two and three-bedroomed cost-effective housing options, saw off seven other regionally-based entrepreneurs to receive the investment. The funding has been used to finalise the prototype, provide funds for a recruitment drive and also legal advice for structural engineering contracts.

Jon said: “I have always had a passion for upcycling, which resulted in the start-up of Strip the Willow, an upcycling workshop and gallery off Abbeydale Road, but I don’t have a background in construction. The idea for REACH Homes came when I was discussing with my partner about building our own home, and highlighting the expense of it.

“I decided to look further into the cost of materials, and found that homes can be made reasonably cheaply from shipping containers and up to 84% recycled materials, which is what we used in our prototype. They are used for restaurants, pop-up bars, so why not use them for a home?!”

Recently awarded a Sustainable Innovation Business Award at the prestigious London Design Fair, REACH Homes uses some innovative techniques and the latest heating and insulation methods to design and create eco-homes from shipping containers. Jon is currently in talks with Sheffield and Rotherham Councils, alongside various housing associations, over the use of his design as a low-cost solution to the shortage of homes in the city.

Jon continues: “I am really grateful for the funding that the Y-Accelerator Programme has awarded REACH Homes. The UK is at a pivotal time in affordable housing, with increasingly loud calls and offers of funding for the supply of homes that are actually accessible to the people who need them. It makes sense to me to build homes for the future that are cheap to run and have a low impact on the environment too, and by working with the UK Steel Enterprise I hope to make this happen in Sheffield a lot quicker.”

The UK Steel Enterprise Y-Accelerator initiative is a collaboration between private and public sector organisations including Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO), Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, UK Steel Enterprise, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sheffield and a number of private firms.

Alan Stanley, Regional Executive of UK Steel Enterprise which invests in growing companies locally, said the quality of the entries to the competition – the first of its kind - was ‘very impressive’; with several of the businesses in question having already secured support from growing numbers of customers.

He said: “The Y-Accelerator is a unique initiative that brings together various forms of support to create an intensive incubator for entrepreneurs with start-up ideas. The process was designed to help validate ideas, develop strong business models and provide people with the tools and skills to launch new businesses, and REACH Homes really demonstrated existing capacity for growth and expansion.

“We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with the company through the investment and looking forward to working with Jon as he continues to build on his success to date.”

Visitors can view the REACH Homes prototype, a 1-bed 320 sq ft studio apartment, at Heeley City Farm on Alexandra Rd, S2 3EE or by emailing Jon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..