PREFAB: IN OR OUT?
Q: What do you think about pre-fab construction as a solution to New Zealand’s housing shortage?
Firm: Bailey’s Builders
Principal: Roy Bailey
I don’t think there’s one answer to New Zealand’s housing shortage or the cost of housing, that’s probably above my pay-scale, but I could see it speeding up the build process in some instances.
However, we tend to deal with more of the higher end stuff, so we’re not really going for the bulk, ‘punch-out-a-hole’ approach with one hundred things looking the same.
Most of the homes we build are in Central Otago, so we’re looking for high insulation value in our buildings, and the whole ‘build a lot of homes quickly’ train of thought doesn’t work well with that.
I do believe there’s a place for it – we’re definitely starting to see structural insulated panels (SIPs) used more frequently and I don’t think it’s a bad thing, as it obviously works well in the right circumstances.
Firm: Form Builders Ltd
Principal: Matt Stevenson from
Location: Cranford St Christchurch
I feel that it is a good energy-efficient solution to your standard-type homes, rather than your bespoke homes, but I don’t know that I’d say that it’s a solution to the housing shortage.
When you are dealing with houses that feature a modular design, I can definitely see the enormous benefits of pre-fabrication. It is when you move into the more architecturally designed homes that elements like SIPs begin to lose their economy and the benefits are mitigated.
In certain parts of New Zealand, for instance the lower portion of the South Island, if we’re thinking about building energy-efficient homes and keeping them to a limited design, pre-fabricated buildings need to offer more benefits and be more economically viable.
That being said, I think it will become a thing of the future, and we will see it progressively become more common as we head further into advanced technology. Even though I haven’t worked with pre-fabricated buildings yet, I’d like to start doing some work with it in my own business.
Firm: Robert Construction
Principal: Hayden Robert
I was building for several years in Christchurch, and now Wellington, and haven’t come across too many people who are keen on prefab. In Christchurch, several homes I worked on specified using Mag Board, so I used it then, but no one in Wellington has requested it. Most people in Wellington I’ve worked for want bespoke homes that suit the style of the neighbourhood they’re in, and prefab doesn’t tend to work well.
Then again, some might say I’m a bit old school, as I also build my own trusses. I find it’s more cost effective, because I can alter it as required and make it suit exactly what I’m building.
I don’t know if prefab is the solution to the housing shortage, but it does seem like a cost-effective and speedy option for some places, if a large number of similarly specc’ed homes are being built.
However, I think it’s just as, if not more, important to continue recruiting good people into building, and be able to provide the support they need to learn the right skills. I don’t think there will ever be a time when everyone is happy to have a prefab house.