Modularisation in housing allows individual buildings that are produced efficiently with reduced development and planning costs, high quality standards and market-ready modules for quick housing solutions with high quality at a convenient price. Despite being long viewed as only a slight step up from mobile homes, modular homes are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the Perth residential construction industry.
According to the Modular Construction & Prefabrication Australia, the modular construction industry in Australia is growing twice as fast as the traditional construction industry. Modular construction currently accounts for $4.5 billion of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry. When well executed, modular construction and prefabrication offers the opportunity to construct projects up to 90% faster, reduce site waste by 80% and reduce total costs by 50% when compared to traditional methods.
In Perth, these homes are preferred by many innovative home designers and are used for affordable apartments, student housing, contemporary residences, and commercial buildings. Combining the benefits of a controlled manufacturing environment with on-site construction provides a great deal of flexibility and eliminates many annoyances builders have faced for years.
What Is a Modular Home?
Modular homes are also known as system-built, factory-built, or prefab homes because they are built in complete sections inside large factories. These sections include all interior and exterior walls, wiring, plumbing, floors, and ceilings. They are made from the same materials found in site-built homes, such as timber, plaster board and vinyl. After manufacturing, the finished sections are wrapped and transported to the construction site. They are placed on a prepared foundation, and the finishing aspects are completed using conventional means.
Why is modular construction gaining so much traction?
Modular construction has been known and used efficiently and profitably for decades. But game-changing shifts in conservative fields such as construction don’t come along too often. So the questions is, what has caused the sudden growth in popularity for modular construction in Perth?
The technological revolution
Firstly the increasing use of digital modelling paired with new manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing have broadened the opportunities – the industry is using more robots and CNC-controlled technologies in manufacturing everything from cars to furniture. This shift is making its way into construction and the most effective application for these technologies is naturally modular construction.
Decrease of skilled workforce
Skilled labourers possess specialised expertise in a particular field within construction. For example, bricklayers, glaziers, stonemasons, cabinetmakers and so on. This makes them invaluable in the construction industry, as their know-how allows for the effective completion of more specific and complex tasks. The construction industry has been experiencing a shortage in skilled labourers, with this expected to continue in the coming years. At times due to demands in the mining industry or volume of work in the eastern states, there can be a shortage in Perth of civil & structural engineers experienced with modular home design.
The perfect combination for growth
The combination of new technological possibilities, shifts in the economy, loss of skilled workforce in the local Perth industry and the increased cost of skilled trades have made the rapid growth of modular construction all but inevitable. When we add the increased quality standards, the demands of the clients and the desire for quicker ROI, then we find out, that modular construction ticks all the boxes.
What is the modular future going to look like?
The stereotype of modular buildings being generic or featureless is no longer relevant. Modular buildings can be beautifully made and modern-looking which in no way come off second-best to the on-site constructions. Almost all major design schools are teaching the basics of prefab and the next generation of architects and structural engineers will be equipped to make prefabricated buildings exciting and easy on the eye. The prefabrication does not set limits to the customization, because similarly to any other wood-frame building, individual wall elements and features can be added to the room modules. This means that a building doesn’t have to be “just a box” or featureless – it can be anything you want it to be.
Speaking of the future, the one thing modular construction will certainly do is drastically speed up the construction of buildings which have many rooms or floors with repetitive room sizes and layouts – for example hospitals, apartment buildings, hotels, schools etc. There will soon be a time when constructing these types of buildings on site will become a massive disadvantage – and going modular will be inevitable.
If you opt for modular construction now, what are the immediate advantages?
If you are a real estate developer, a provider of accommodation, local government authority or any other business client who is seeking to construct new buildings for their business, the future could start right now. If you chose modular construction as the technology to manufacture your next building, what would be the immediate benefits for you?
Cost saving – modular construction is efficient. There are no wasted materials because of the weather damage. The costs on labor are lower because less workforce is needed and the overall completion time is shorter which means quicker ROI.
Time savings – There are no delays caused by the weather or unskilled workforce. The site preparation and construction of modules take place at the same time which add up to 30-50% faster completion of your project.
Labour – The workforce in the house factory is highly specialized to a certain process which means they work quickly and provide high quality. On the other hand, the installation crew members do not have to be highly paid skilled craftsmen.
Quality control – prefabricated modules are constructed in a controlled factory environment. They are designed and built to the same standards as buildings constructed on site and regular test in the factory ensure the high quality of the modules leaving the factory. A structural engineer will undertake the soil classification and provide certification for the project.
Permits and inspections - the usual planning and building permit system will apply as required by the local government authority. Framing and roofing should all undergo the mandated inspections as stipulated by the architect and the structural engineer.
Site impact – modular constructions leaves a minimal impact to the construction site which means less works (and costs) on restoration after the construction is completed Modular construction requires minimal movement to deliver materials to the site. This is perfect when transportation vehicles need to navigate and maneuver on busy streets.
Sustainability and eco-friendliness – minimal material waste and the use of wood as the main construction material, which is a renewable resource, makes modular construction friendly towards the environment.
Material use and logistics – if a just-in-time or similar approach is used it can certainly result in better pricing for the materials. This translates directly into reduced project costs.
If you're looking to save money on building costs or want to buy a green home, modular construction could be the answer. As with any home purchase, be sure to get a thorough pre-purchase building inspection to see whether the house needs any repairs (blog image courtesy of apexairspace.co.uk ).
If you have any questions, get in touch with us to discuss your requirements and to obtain a free quote.
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