Just prior to publication of this edition, the ABC’s Four Corners reported on a study by Deakin and Griffith Universities. The survey focused on buildings constructed in Australia’s east coast states after 2003 and found that showed 97 per cent of buildings surveyed in New South Wales had at least one fault from waterproofing to fire safety system defects. In Victoria, 74 per cent of the buildings surveyed had defects; 71 per cent in Queensland. With the repair bill estimated in the billions, the need to reconfigure construction seems more pressing than ever; and modern methods of construction (MMC), in which modules can be independently engineered to ensure better construction quality management, have a role to play. The appointment of David Chandler OAM as NSW building commissioner, effective 14 August, is timely in this context. David’s planned presentation at the 2019 prefabAUS Conference is complemented by his opinion piece on page 27 of this issue.
This year’s conference theme envisions the future for construction, a topic also touched on in our main feature on page 15, which looks at signs of growth in the sector, in particular growing demand for construction technology and what it says about the outlook for modern methods of construction (MMC).
Finally, a new special report on page 15 looks at the bathroom pod market. As small, self-contained units, bathrooms are readily applicable to an offsite approach. A traditionally built bathroom requires at least five different trades for its construction while a factory built version requires minimal man hours, reduced costs, a shorter project timescale, increased health and safety along with superior quality of finish. Our report delineates the scope of the Australian market and profiles some its most significant operators.■
Managing Editor Built Offsite
…And welcome to the 2019 prefabAUS Conference. This year’s theme is ‘Offsite: Constructing the future’ and will be addressed in diverse ways by our impressive speaker line-up. Presentations are headlined by our International Keynote Speaker Kasper Guldager Jensen. A Senior Partner at Danish architecture firm 3XN and the Director of 3XN’s innovation company, GXN, Kasper will focus on how architecture can be delivered within a circular economy framework, showcasing approaches to waste reduction that might be applied to offsite construction. We also welcome back David Chandler OAM, a prefabAUS conference veteran, presenting in his new guise as the recently appointed NSW Building Commissioner. David will share his thoughts around his new position, his initial ‘read’ on the problems confronting the construction industry and his priorities for restoring confidence in the NSW building sector.
It’s not possible to highlight all our speakers here, but to demonstrate the range of ideas on the table, Tom Durick, Business Development Manager, DATA61 | CSIRO will present on block chain supply chain solutions for construction, while Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia (MBA) will look at offsite from the MBA’s perspective as well as how it can encourage female participation in the industry. Elsewhere, speakers’ talks will analyse topics from the ‘marital tensions’ between traditional construction contracts and offsite construction; to measures to create healthy indoor environments through prefab builds; to unearthing advanced manufacturing opportunities in Australia and the Federal government’s Prefab Innovation Hub scoping study. And of course, conference attendees can also expect lively panel discussions. Finally, the successful prefabAUS study tour to the UK in June offered participants a host of insights into broad influences in that market, as well as first-hand experience of the operations of UK offsite ventures. Tour highlights will be shared at the conference.■