PrefabNZ Conference Report

Mar 19, 2018 | Events

Bernadette Pinnell attended day three of CoLab, which focused on increasing uptake of innovative construction in New Zealand. My round table discussion was to provide those in the prefab sector, as well as suppliers and consultants with an understanding of what the Community Housing Sector does, how many houses the sector builds or owns and what the prefab sector can provide to our sector.

The process involved 4×15 minute round table discussions, in total 30 people came to the table. This included, academics, home builders, manufacturers, architects and consultants.

Much of the promoted advantage of prefabrication and offsite construction is in the reduction of build time, either because materials are precast and assembled on site, or some of the construction is completed in factories and therefore is not subject to on site weather delays.

Speed of construction is important, however my questions to the sector focused on the fact that as CHPs we generally have long term contracts to manage tenancies and properties. Therefore, we are very interested in the longevity of the construction materials, robustness and replacement if there is damage or wear and tear and durability, as most of our tenants spend 24 hours x 7 days per week at home. I was also interested in energy efficiency and property management considerations to reduce running costs for tenants and property managers.

What I heard:

•The sector has grown in scale and capability and is a viable option for CHPs building new properties

•It is promoted as cost effective with respect to cost-value proposition

•It’s better suited to lower density- 3 storey generally

•Regulation and compliance issues are being addressed but slowly. *The same regulation and compliance standards apply to prefab as traditional builds

•New government guidelines are promised by Housing Minister by June 2018

•The materials are robust and have longevity for at least 25 years and more in some cases

•There is potential for modifications and rebuild if required

•It’s a more sustainable model of construction because of the reduction in waste and decrease in truck movements typical of normal construction sites

•They are water and energy efficient in their design and materials

•Re. risk and whether some of these companies will be around in the long term is unknown *which is no different to traditional constructions firms

•Prefab and offsite construction is suited to affordable design solutions

•It is orientated for replicability so potential for standard designs is available to reduce design and engineering costs

•There is competition between traditional and new prefab builders

•Opportunities for employment of unskilled labour is higher in prefab sector

•There is increased certainty in timelines (although this is not proven*). (*This is proven, see NZ PhD research here and the PrefabNZ Value case for prefab here)

•Long-term maintenance costs are similar – (although this is not proven)

•Companies can provide a ‘one-stop’ solution which can reduce costs in consultants and time.

Read more in these two documents:

Why Prefab.pdf

PrefabNZ Glossary 2017.pdf

If anyone is interested in building new properties using prefabrication or offsite construction, email Alice Boultbee, Membership and Communications Manager – PrefabNZ.

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