Prefabricated construction has come a long way from the old school prefabs of the ’70s and may provide the answer to New Zealand’s growing housing shortage.
By far the greatest advantage of prefab construction is quality, but that’s not all it has to offer.
Quality – Greater use of factory controlled conditions, computer numerically controlled (CNC) and computer-aided drafting and manufacturing (CAD-CAM) technology provides for superior precision, let wastage and a higher quality end product, whilst still allowing individuality in design.
Time – The fastest way to save money is to save time and prefabrication gets the job done faster – site-based foundations are built at the same time as the offsite manufacturing of building parts and delays due to weather conditions are avoided. Reportedly, fast food chain McDonalds set a record of constructing a prefab building and opening for business within 13 hours (on pre-prepared ground works).
Skills – Factory construction enables greater trade specialisation, which provides for increased quality and less onsite labour, thereby reducing overall costs. More jobs for less skilled workers would be created in controlled environments.
Cost vs. value – A 2011 BRANZ study showed that a reduction in house construction time can mean a saving of between $1,000 to $1,600 per week. It also means less rental time for home occupants. Currently, it is estimated that only a quarter of construction projects in New Zealand are completed on time.
Sustainability – The construction industry contributes to 40 percent of landfill, so pressure is increasing to reduce the level of material waste used in production. Prefab construction reduces waste at site and enables better energy efficiencies through more accurate building methods.
There is also less disturbance made to the land onsite.
Health and safety – The construction sector has a worker fatality rate almost triple that of any other sector. Prefabrication processes provide improved health and safety benefits for workers as the work environment is easy to control and there is less exposure to weather elements.