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Why Off-Site Construction is On the Rise


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Photo courtesy of westernbuild.com

As you may already know, off-site construction is the process of designing, fabricating, transporting, and constructing building segments for quicker assembly and reduced risk than that of traditional on-site construction. This off-site construction trend is not limited to that of houses and apartments, it is used broadly across various commercial and residential construction industries. Sometimes it serves to reduce cost and time, on other occasions to reduce the chance of injury or created a modern, modular style.

Traditionally, the nature of construction is that of designing and creating an assembly of objects on a site, forming a unique structural project. This is why the residential and commercial construction differs to that of other industries. However, thanks to the emergence of advanced off-site construction processes, the site itself can be removed from the construction project, leaving personnel to focus entirely on manufacturing the product. This drastically reduces the likelihood of error, and in consequence the costs, time, and the risk of potential workplace injury. 

This drastically reduces the likelihood of error, and in consequence the costs, time, and the risk of potential workplace injury.  

Previously, off-site construction was not really applicable to the average building project due to the design being unattractive and dated. Additionally, most structures that were assembled off-site were only built to be temporary. This created an outdated and second-hand perception of off-site construction, leading to decreased usage and a declining trend.

However, new advances in technology and available materials have led to a surge in off-site construction in overseas markets.Recently, the UK Construction Industry Training Board has released a survey which shows that 42 per cent of UK employers with over one hundred staff are expecting to use off-site construction over the next five years.

Australia is currently running behind schedule with off-site construction accounting for only three per cent of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry. Nevertheless, the Modular Building Institute believes that this will soon change, predicting that nearly 10 per cent — around $15 billion — of the Australian construction industry will become prefabricated in the next five years.

It is suggested this evolution is caused by a shift in perception of off-site construction and an improved understanding of the financials and timeliness behind projects. Dr Karen Manley, an Associate Professor of Construction Management at Queensland University of Technology, is a strong believer in the move. 

It is suggested this evolution is caused by a shift in perception of off-site construction and an improved understanding of the financials and timeliness behind projects. 

“The financing of prefabricated houses is complicated by the fact that the industry necessarily straddles the manufacturing and housing sectors,” she says. “Financing for traditional house builds relies on the gradual release of funds as milestones are reached… In contrast, prefabrication reduces the on-site work to a simple installation process, with no gradual progression, so the manufacturer needs funding up-front.”

This hastened process mentioned by Dr Karen Manley is due to off-site, prefabricated building sites having the ability to both speed up progress and reduce the amount of constructional errors. In high traffic areas in particular, construction time can be nearly halved thanks to major sectors of a building being installed during low-traffic times, such as nighttime and early morning, reducing disruption.

Overall, construction will inevitably continue to surge with the global population and, as an industry undergoing such exponential growth, there will need by further innovation supporting the constructional workforce. Off-site construction is a simple solution for an industry that is forecast to be worth US$10.3 trillion by 2020.

If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks you may enjoy: 

Connecting the Lifecycle of Construction

The Future of Construction Safety

How to Grow Your Business

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