A Wales-based house building firm says it is the first to meet the UK Government's challenge to build new homes which sell for under £60,000.
Redrow's Debut houses are built around a steel frame
Flintshire-based Redrow is preparing to launch its "Debut" range of properties aimed at the first-time buyer market.
It claims the steel-frame constructions can be built in three weeks and cost from £55,000 for a one-bedroom flat.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has challenged developers to provide homes which first-time buyers can afford.
In January, a survey from the Halifax Bank found first-time buyers could not afford to buy a home in 92% of UK towns.
The study found average-priced homes in 548 out of 597 main UK postal towns were beyond the means of people on average salaries.
Mr Prescott launched a design competition for the house-building industry to build a home for £60,000, including the price of the land.
Redrow's response is its Debut range of housing, the result of a joint venture with the steel producer, Corus.
"We will be using a lightweight steel frame, and manufacturing homes to a very high quality," said Redrow chief executive Paul Pedley.
"Much of the houses will be constructed off-site, meaning they can be put together very quickly.
"The homes are aimed at first time buyers, whose percentage of the housing market has been falling due to rising prices."
On Tuesday Redrow revealed pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of December 2004 of £69.1m, up 22%.
The firm claims the pre-fabricated steel frame can be put together in a matter of hours, allowing the roof to go on straight away.
The build then proceeds as normal but with "dry" trades like plaster work and the wiring able to start almost immediately.
The properties also have an increased number of pre-fabricated elements, including walls, floors and roofs.
It estimates the system can cut a typical build time of seven-to-eight weeks to as little as three-to-four weeks.
Redrow claims the buildings are more expensive than a traditionally-built house but they can be put up at the rate of three-a-week compared to one-a-week for a normal new house.
The properties meet the latest targets for environmental standards.
Redrow has permission to construct 103 Debut homes in Rugby over the next year. Two-storey, two-bedroom properties will retail for £119,995.
It already has similar planning applications in Wrexham, north Wales, and Chorley.
'Consider its merits'
A Redrow spokeswoman said: "A third of the 1.5m house sales in the UK should be first-time buyers.
"What we wanted to do was come up with a quality solution - a real community feel but also an affordable home."
Redrow, based at Ewloe in Flintshire, has 10 operating companies across the UK. It is to apply to build its Debut range in each area.
It is launching the range on Tuesday, giving mortgage lenders the opportunity to decide if they will lend money to potential buyers.
Michael Jones, Head of Mortgage Service Centre at Wales' Principality Building Society, said: "In principle, we would lend on the kind of property Redrow and Corus are proposing, however, we would need to look at the construction type in more detail and would consider each case on its merits."