February 07, 2018/ News
The modern age has been largely defined by the desire for instant gratification - when we want something, we want it now. Australia's construction industry has had a slower evolution, with many building processes and techniques going largely unchanged. However, prefabrication is set to shake up Australia's relatively stagnant construction industry, and thrust it into the fast-paced world we live in today.
Prefabrication, or 'prefab' construction, refers to the assembly of modules/segments of a structure off-site, and transporting them to the designated project location for completion. This departs from the traditional construction method where raw materials are brought to the site and all assembly is completed there.
Spurred by the ever-growing population of Australia, and the subsequent boom in demand for residential and commercial structures, prefab has become an increasingly popular building solution.
The speed at which prefabricated structures can be erected may aid in future-proofing Australia, as whole communities and hubs can be established almost as soon as the need arises.
Another factor contributing to the wider adoption of prefabrication, is the shortage in construction workers. Many construction workers had left the industry during the economic downturn and employment trends have signalled a decrease in the levels of new workers entering construction. This combination has resulted in a significant deficit of workers who possess the necessary building and construction skills to carry out projects. Prefab projects are less affected by this shift than standard building projects, since a sizeable portion of the assembly is done off-site, and not as many workers are required to be present.
Although prefab is not an entirely new or modern concept, it is quickly gaining traction and being embraced as a solution for Australia's building needs in the future. Prefabrication is expected to grow at a rate of 5 per cent per annum, which is more than double the entire industry's projected growth rate of 2.3 per cent per annum.
So, why are 'prefab' buildings becoming so popular?
1. Prefabrication Is Fast
Prefabrication significantly reduces construction time, as the components of the structure are ready-made and multiple segments can be assembled simultaneously. Also, with prefab construction, projects aren't as vulnerable to delays caused by weather, subcontractor scheduling, late delivery of materials, etc. This means that Prefab projects can often be completed in a fraction of the time it would take to build a structure using more traditional methods.
2. Prefabrication Is Environmentally-Friendly
Another benefit of prefabrication is that it is a more environmentally responsible way to build structures. Prefabrication often results in much less wastage, as the ready-made modules are made in a controlled factory environment and the materials required to construct a particular component are carefully calculated. Also, if there are any excess materials, these can be easily recycled and used to make other prefab components. Whereas, leftover resources on a conventional construction site would most likely be disposed of in landfill.
3. Prefabrication Is Consistent
As mentioned in the previous point, prefab components are assembled in designated factory or manufacturing sites. This means that you can be assured that the quality will be consistent and to a high standard. Also, with prefabrication there is greater assurance that the components will meet building code standards, in comparison to an ad hoc structure.
4. Prefabrication Is Cost-Effective
One of the main reasons that prefab is starting to take off in Australia, is that it is cost-effective. Since prefab projects take less time to complete and the components are constructed prior to arrival on site, less on-site labour is required. Labour costs are a major expense and the bill can quickly add up, especially if a construction project is extended due to delays. The efficiency of prefabrication reduces costs, since these projects are more stable, and require a leaner team of workers compared to traditional modes of construction.
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