Is it the developer, the architect, the builder, the developer, the building owner or project manager? Or is it the quantity surveyor?
Responses to Warner’s questions from David Madden – Founding Director of quantity surveying and advisory firm mbm, Richard Deed – Associate Director at construction and property specialist WT Partnership, Alan Graef – Estimating Manager at Watpac Construction, and Rod Anderson – National Estimating Manager at construction group Built, shed light on this issue.
When is the optimum time for a QS to identify when pre-fabrication is applicable?
David Madden – “Depending on the extent of pre-fabrication intended, it may be required prior to concept design (for a whole building) or by the contractor at the time of trade letting (combined services on cable trays or prefabricated bathrooms).”
Richard Deed – “Concept phase prior to schematic design/detailed design so the design can be developed efficiently.”
Alan Graef – “Pre-fabrication should ideally be considered at the feasibility stage as the extent of offsite modules and their integration can have significant impact on the design. Cost benefit analysis should reflect the benefits of early involvement to ensure that the design develops to reflect the pre-fabrication and considers all aspects e.g. time benefits normally related to offsite fabrication along with reduced defects etc.”
“Pre-fabrication should ideally be considered at the feasibility stage as the extent of offsite modules and their integration can have significant impact on the design. Cost benefit analysis should reflect the benefits of early involvement to ensure that the design develops to reflect the pre-fabrication and considers all aspects e.g. time benefits normally related to offsite fabrication along with reduced defects etc.”
Alan Graef, Estimating Manager, Watpac Construction.
Rod Anderson – “With an understanding of the client’s requirements, initial concept phase to influence the design and drive the consultants, during this early stage, to think about simplifying aspects of a project and making components repetitious.”
What are the characteristics of a project that leads to pre-fabrication being integrated into the build?
David Madden – “A repeatable product such as bathrooms, kitchens, classrooms. For whole projects, again repeatable i.e. primary and secondary school buildings. Remote projects i.e. 500km from a rural city centre.”
Richard Deed – “When a project has to be accelerated on site. When constructability on site is difficult, durability can be increased in offsite production and potential cost savings can be gained based on the program length/overheads.”
Alan Graef – “Repetition is one of the most significant characteristics in successfully implementing a pre-fabricated or modular solution. Trade availability, or lack thereof, can also play a significant part in the consideration of pre-fabricated options, for example in rural or remote communities.”
Rod Anderson – “Mindset of the client, in the first instance. The availability of local labour/project location and the amount of repetition of a project whether it be bathrooms, hotel rooms, custody cells or the like.”
What are the inhibitors to integrating prefabrication into construction projects?
David Madden – “Inhibitors include contractor reluctance; limited players in Australia due to our population and remoteness from Europe and China; high costs about 30% more in city areas unless this is for bathrooms and the like; current labour shortage, the high cost of manufacturing.”
Richard Deed – “Quality of product being compromised by the installation process and installation/transport from offsite leading to the pre-fabrication being more costly.”
Alan Graef – “Co-ordination and the early investment in completing the design are one of the main inhibitors in pre-fabrication. Pre-fabrication or modularisation are often considered too late to be able to fully benefit.”
Rod Anderson – “There’s a tendency for developers to not want too much repetition in their projects. Pre-fabrication is relatively new to the market and it’s yet to be proven if it saves considerable time and money.”■
Grant Warner – CEO, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS)