When I first read this article about an Australian modular home builder it struck me as something I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Where should we build, what should we build, who is our market and the problem of competing with tract builders.
Too bad he doesn’t live closer to us as I would love to hear what he would say at our Builder Round Table on the 28th.
The following article written by Jane Pinder is from Brisbane, Australia’s Courier-Mail:
MODULAR housing’s reputation of cheap, low quality product has been flipped on its head by a Sunshine Coast builder more familiar with high-end home projects.
Saltair Constructions’ Ken Cornwall has won awards for his work in modular homes, and he said the future of the product was in the opposite direction to its ‘affordable housing’ image.
“The reality is, we can’t compete with a project home builder. On a flat standard site in suburbia, that can work for modular housing but it’s not competitive,” he said.
Mr Cornwall said modular housing was most cost effective on a sloping site, and suited mid to high-range projects.
“One of the areas we are interested in building in is multiple dwellings, such as townhouses and units. We can cut down construction times dramatically. While the developer is getting their civil works done on site, before it is ready we can be building the modules offsite. As soon as the site is ready to be built on, we can put the houses or townhouses in and it saves months of time,” he said.
Mr Cornwall said Australia was catching up to international modular housing innovation.
“They are going into the middle of London and building a five or six-storey building in about three weeks. That is unprecedented. That’s where I think the future of modular building probably is,” he said.
Mr Cornwall has done modular housing for about two years, and started by experimenting on a build with the high level of finish expected by clients.
“We found it to be really effective, cost effective, short construction time, and it’s an enjoyable process too. Building it in a more controlled environment, in a yard, where we are supervising it all day, every day,” he said.
Mr Cornwall has done modular housing in New South Wales with a partner under the name Stackbuilt, which won a Master Builders award.
Recently Saltair’s modular housing design at Buderim also won the HIA Housing Awards Queensland Innovative Housing award.
“The funniest part of this, we find, is the reaction from people. We have built a couple in suburban streets, and people leave at 8am with just the posts in place, and when they come back there’s a two storey house that looks finished from the outside,” he said.
“In reality we have a fair bit of finishing up to do, but the initial day is very much ‘wow’.”