THE FIRST STEP
‘Buying off the Plans’ is one of four channels for delivering KiwiBuild homes. The others are: undertaking major urban redevelopment projects (such as Unitec Land for Housing), converting existing Crown land and purchasing additional land from the private market, and procuring KiwiBuild dwellings through existing government-led housing initiatives.
Buying off the Plans will see the New Zealand government underwriting or purchasing new affordable homes ‘off the plans’ from the private sector. This accelerates housing delivery as it targets developers with development-ready land.
Only those who are willing to adapt their development to include affordable KiwiBuild dwellings can be part of the program. Changes may be needed to the development’s scale and pace, or the range of types of dwellings, or the type of innovative delivery methods. Prefabrication is clearly a way to increase the pace and deliver innovative construction. Media channels are alive with commentary on KiwiBuild, with many in industry saying they are looking forward to participating. Others are putting their energy into saying it can’t be done. Prefabrication is a buzz-word in the discussion about ‘how’ KiwiBuild can be delivered.
“Media channels are alive with commentary on KiwiBuild, with many in industry saying they are looking forward to participating. Others are putting their energy into saying it can’t be done. Prefabrication is a buzz-word in the discussion about ‘how’ KiwiBuild can be delivered.” PrefabNZ CEO Pamela Bell.
CAPACITY + CAPABILITY
PrefabNZ released the ‘Capacity and Capability’ report in March at the annual CoLab event, revealing these top three findings for how prefabrication can deliver KiwiBuild:
- There is more latent capacity in panels and pods than in traditional components (pre-nail) or complete buildings (transportable). This means there is more potential in newer innovative methods of construction than in the status quo.
- The offsite construction sector is ready to invest a median of 8% of revenue, and up to 20% in some cases, in order to deliver KiwiBuild.
- A total of 7,000 homes could be delivered each year by existing businesses from 2020, if the wider prefab industry scales up at 140% (as survey recipients have indicated they will do) over the next three years. This will go 70% of the way to deliver KiwiBuild’s target of 10,000 homes per year over 10 years.
At CoLab, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford stood alongside Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa to express support for the offsite construction sector in delivering KiwiBuild.
Many PrefabNZ Members are looking to invest in their capacity to deliver for KiwiBuild, through expanding manufacturing capability. W&R Jacks, who specialise in Germany’s Weinmann machinery, is experiencing unprecedented demand from interest in KiwiBuild.
First PSL panels manufactured for the Boon house, before smooth finishing.
Floor partially installed at the Boon house; plywood spine drilled, end screws yet to be drilled.
A crane easing a panel into place at the site.
Drone shot of the panels being installed in the Boon house.
PANELS + PODS
The prefabrication types most suited to creating flexible design outcomes for multi-family housing are panels and pods. Kiwi company Taranakipine is one PrefabNZ member currently commercialising a new panelised product – ‘Woodspan’ – and trialling the prototype in the build of Taranakipine CEO Tom Boon’s own home. Taranakipine is a New Plymouth wood manufacturer established in 1954, now employing 170 staff and exporting globally. The last 20 years have seen the business become more focussed on engineered wood products, such as finger-jointed and laminated timber components.
The current global trend for mass timber has been the impetus to explore the market space and create a unique, cost-competitive, volume product. Market assessment identified the need for Parallel Laminated Timber (PLT) panels for floors and roofs. The last few months have seen a series of panels of various thicknesses designed and tested for moisture during construction, stiffness and span, creep, and acoustic performance.
“The prototype house enabled testing of the panel assembly process, with panels leaving the factory in a site-specific stack for the builder to assemble in the correct order,” Boon explains. “Cranage time was 3.5 minutes per panel which reduced the crane hire cost to one-fifth of the original budget. It took just one day to install the floor, which was then exposed to weather conditions for seven weeks, without any negative performance effects.
The R&D process is nearing completion; the Woodspan product is being prepared for commercialisation to market. Final steps include peer review of the Design and Installation Guides, appointing a new Sales Manager, prototyping over four additional building projects, and assessing potential new automated CNC machinery.
ON THE KIWIBUILD JOURNEY – HOW WILL WE DO IT?
KiwiBuild is an exciting development, and we will be eagerly watching this space as new solutions and prefabrication typologies are developed. The local industry will expand in order to deliver KiwiBuild and there will be several joint ventures and information exchanges with enterprises from Australia and further afield.
At PrefabNZ, we believe the answer to deliver KiwiBuild will likely be a handful of networked integrator enterprises. There remain challenges that need to be addressed to smooth the path for large-scale change for a longer-term vision of a networked integrated industry. PrefabNZ will keep industry posted on how we are working on incremental change for long-term gain.■