Global increase in offsite, prefabricated construction is creating challenges for building industry in Australia, says expert; rise in offshore sourcing raises issues of compliance with Australian standards, migration of jobs overseas

DUNEDIN, New Zealand , April 11, 2014 () – In a recent presentation at the Prefab NZ conference, David Chandler, Chief Executive of Sydney based construction advisory firm Resolution Services, said construction throughout the world is increasingly going offsite and becoming industrialised and globalised, but a business as usual approach in Australia is holding back the development of domestic prefabrication capability, inhibiting productivity growth and driving up construction costs.

Chandler told the conference New Zealand was ahead of Australia in terms of embracing pre-fabrication, and that procurement practices throughout the industry in the latter had been held back by a cutting back of informed buyer capability within the public service, a lack of national insights over what construction costs should be, variations in construction quality and certification and declining on-site construction experience on the part of managers and the return of fragmentation of construction governance and governance of industry associations.

He said many of Australia’s construction inputs are increasingly being sourced offshore, a phenomenon which is leading to challenges associated with compliance of imported products with Australian standards as well as more employment positions going overseas.

“The rate at which construction inputs are being sourced off-shore is rising steeply,” Chandler wrote in his paper. “These inputs include steel, curtain walls, engineered timber and these days extend to complete buildings in areas such as housing, student accommodation and hospitals.”

To turn this around, Chandler argued for greater coordination between Australia and New Zealand, including the creation of an industry portal that enables the supply chain to collaborate and allows clients and construction imitators to view all that is on offer, incorporate inputs of their choosing, quickly build a project design, manage scope and specification and view real time pricing and delivery schedules.

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A full copy of the paper David Chandler gave at the conference can be viewed here

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