Modern codes needed for modern homes

January 4, 2022 BY

Prefabricated buildings use a range of methods and now a peak industry body is seeking input on how to improve regulation in the space.

The Housing Industry Association has released a consultation paper on identifying and breaking down the regulatory barriers holding back greater uptake of modular and prefabricated construction in new home building.

“Builders, trades and homeowners are looking at innovative ways to build, for speed, accuracy and finish,” said HIA chief executive of industry policy, Kristin Brookfied.

“However, our current building codes, standards, planning and building regulations, and financial systems were created with traditional homes and construction methods in mind.”

Ms Brookfied is also a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centres Pre Fab Innovation Hub Steering Committee and said there were many factors holding back the grow of the sector.

She also said the current rules were having real impacts on the burgeoning industry.

“These regulatory barriers can be time consuming and add further costs to building projects,” Ms Brookfield said.

“They can also result in inconsistent outcomes for industry and consumers, with the potential for non-approval.

“For manufacturers and suppliers looking to bring new materials and construction systems to market, there is often a hesitancy by designers, planners and building surveyors to accept these alternatives because they don’t fit the mould.

“Given the likelihood of a steady increase in fast-tracked building solutions entering the Australian market, we expect a vast number of construction projects including housing, will move to off-site and modular or system-based construction methods over the next five, 10 and 20 years.”

As away of addressing the issues around pre-fabricated building regulations, the HIA has put out a consultation paper on the subject.

“It is critical that there is a clear understanding of the regulatory barriers that exist today so that we can set the industry up for success by identifying the potential solutions sooner rather than later,” Ms Brookfield said.

“Examples like more tailored building codes and standards, overcoming planning rules that control the size and location of homes or the types of external finishes used, or looking at modern forms of home building contracts that recognise the ‘off-site’ pathway, are all things we are aware of.

We know there are a range of hurdles standing in the way of prefabricated and modular construction systems and we want to hear what the industry is experiencing so we can work together to find the right solutions.”

HIA’s project forms part of series of projects being undertaken through the AMGC Pre-fab Innovation Hub.

The Pre-fab Innovation project was announced by Karen Andrews, former Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in June 2019 to support Australia’s manufacturing and building and construction industry.