New materials and technology have taken modular housing light years away from the transportable homes of the 1970s, offering a sophisticated product with drastically reduced build times.
There is no doubt the biggest benefit of this style of construction is the time saving but it also offers cost efficiencies, safer workplaces with controlled manufacturing at dedicated facilities and reduced environmental impacts, according to Matthew Keogh, Director of Nexus Homes Improvements, modular renovations and extensions.
Matthew said that while modular housing technology had moved fast, attitudes had not.
“The biggest headwind we find is people’s perception that modular housing is a cheap product,” he said.
“We offer high-end renovations and new homes that far exceed client expectations continually. But the major advantage is definitely convenience.”
Nathan Hollis, Sales and Business Development Manager at MRN Group, whose residential modular construction arm TR Homes is an award-winning modular construction specialist, agreed that people in Perth and big country towns were stuck in the ‘brick and tile’ mindset.
“TR Homes is trying to break the ‘cheap’ and ‘low quality’ misconceptions about modular, prefab housing,” he said.
“It only takes one visit to our display village to appreciate how far modular housing has come in the last 10-15 years and see the quality in our designs and homes first hand.”
“The mindset people possess of modular, prefab homes is really disappointing, especially when you see the technology, innovation and design coming out of Europe, Asia, North America and even on the east coast of Australia.”
Nathan said the younger generation were more accepting of modular construction methods and were well-researched and willing to challenge the brick-and-tile status quo.
He said the change over the past 10 years to modular housing could be largely attributed to technology shifts, with new building materials offering design flexibility.
“I often come across designs that incorporate shipping containers as a new housing material and the designs that can be achieved are just incredible,” he said.
"I think Western Australians, certainly in the metro area are missing a big opportunity by not being more open to modular, prefab housing. It may be an awareness thing too – we’re trying to change that.”
Matthew said modular housing had become more viable over the past 10 years with the introduction of new lightweight and thermally efficie4nt materials.
“Examples of this is the Masterwall (polystyrene cladding) and K5Kooltherm (insulated external wall board) which have thermal benefits and are rendered to look like brickwork,” he said.
Besides the reduced costs, time and building material waste, Cube Modular Homes managing Director Danny Cornwell said modular housing also had advantages on difficult sites.
“Modular homes can be placed on any terrain, ground conditions and gradients with the correct design and engineering, and without needed big amounts of ground work, therefore reducing building costs,” Danny said.
This article first appeared in the New Homes liftout of the Weekend West 28-29 November 2015 written by Angie Tomlinson.