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Housing Supply – Panelisation provides paradigm shift

Housing Supply – Panelisation provides paradigm shift


13 September 2017


Wood panel factories, not on-site workers, is the only way to solve the housing supply crisis, says a Rotorua engineer who is organising a national wood technology conference later this month

John Stulen, from the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) says, “More workers building houses on site is not enough to really lift housing supply. Only new high volume wood panel plants will do that in a big way, which is exactly what New Zealand needs. It simply has to happen as existing capacity like XLAM’s cross-laminated timber (CLT) plant in Nelson and Stanley Group’s modular building factory in Matamata have delivered some added capacity, but there is room for far more supply to meeting demand.”

He says, “In Australia, developers and large builders have already boosted their industry by adding more wood panelisation plants. It is a welcome sign for ramping up the supply of new affordable housing. We need at least one or two more large wood panel factories using new ultra-modern manufacturing technologies to ramp up single family and multi-residential homes in New Zealand.”

Stulen is organising a national conference in Rotorua this month. International keynote speakers will explain how housing and mid-rise residential building capacity has grown immensely in Australia and Canada on the back of new wood panel and pre-fabrication plants.

In Australia, since launching its automated prefabrication facility 12 months ago, building contractor Strongbuild has grown from strength to strength. The first of its kind in Australia, the panelisation facility in Bella Vista, northwest Sydney, manufactures extremely precise prefab components that are highly cost-effective, allowing for rapid and safe assembly on site.

Prefabrication now plays a part in roughly 80 per cent of Strongbuild’s projects and, more and more, the company is choosing only to work on projects where they can add value through offsite manufacturing. Strongbuild’s business development manager, Shane Strong, will discuss their business model at the “Changing Perceptions” annual conference in Rotorua this month.

Prefabrication gives the company control over the entire design and build process taking place in-house, including price, quality and timing. Strongbuild, and wood panelisation plants generally, are helping to meet the challenges of Australia’s’ housing supply shortage. They are delivering cost efficiencies and time savings that lead to overall lower costs per dwelling.

Strongbuild can complete a two-storey townhouse, so to lock-up stage in about three days from the floor slab being completed. Shane Strong says that panelisation is a manufactured solution they’re absolutely committed to. They are also doing bathroom pods, but they’re not really a modular builder. Their Sydney plant produces prefinished panels, both as cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural elements and for walls using standard lightweight timber framing.

Strongbuild launched in 2000 with a vision to create a streamlined building system that would take the negative variables out of the design and building process. Beginning by delivering single-residence homes in a classically Australian style, the business soon expanded into the multi-residential space, splitting into two divisions – home building and community building. The multi-residential arm has delivered townhouse communities, residential apartments and vertical retirement villages, including Australia’s largest CLT project, The Gardens at Macarthur Gardens in Campbelltown.

Growing demand from developers in the Sydney market has driven Strongbuild’s expansion, with prefabrication being the engine that allows the company to deliver savings in material costs and construction timelines. With Aveo Norwest – a luxury vertical retirement village –Strongbuild are able to deliver the project three months ahead of a traditional construction timeline for a similar project.

The upcoming national building industry conference, entitled “Changing Perceptions” is focused on “The Advantages of Timber in Mid-Rise Construction.” It's the second annual conference for Innovatek in commercial wood building and will be held in Rotorua on 28 September. The diverse programme attracts building owners, developers, architects, engineers, specifiers and key engineered wood suppliers.

The conference is part of wood technology week in Rotorua this month alongside the long-running FIEA WoodTECH 2017 two-day conference and trade expo. Rotorua Lakes Council are event partners as part of their “Wood-First” policy. see: www.cpetc2017.com

Ends

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