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Modular construction trends in Australia

Why is modular design increasing in popularity?

Gary Sollitt - Structural Project Engineer, structural engineering firm PerthWith clients, developers, engineers and architects always looking for sound ways to improve commercial viability on projects, there is a steadily increasing trend towards modular solutions across a range of Australian developments and sectors.

Gary Sollitt, Structural Project Engineer at Wood & Grieve Engineers, has extensive modular experience and has identified what he believes to be the four major contributors towards this trend.

  • Requirement for turn-key solutions 

Gary points out that when the modules are prefabricated they are transported to site ready to ‘plug and play’ into the main building. This leaves only localised finishes and vertical and horizontal service reticulation through the communal areas to complete, simplifying the need for on-site trades and significantly shortening construction time.

The trend of turn-key solutions is increasing in the residential, student accommodation and hospitality sectors where a high repetition of rooms and layouts is prevalent.

  • Tight construction timeframes 

Projects on confined sites with restricted access are increasingly turning to modular solutions to ease site construction constraints and tight time frames, says Gary. Time dedicated to ‘wet’ trades including cement and plaster can be reduced, as well as decreased requirements for other in-situ trades such as form and reinforcement workers.

  • Reduced construction and labour costs, even in remote locations 

Constructing a development in a regional or remote location often means increased labour charges, material supply elongation and sometimes quality issues. However prefabrication significantly reduces this cost and risk as modular solutions are transported directly to site and are complete. Australia’s mining boom in recent years has seen increased requirements for mining accommodation in remote locations, which are prime candidates for modular building solutions.

  • Construction quality control 

Offshore factory prefabrication is extremely cost effective due to lower labour and material costs and is becoming increasingly prevalent with Australian developers. Gary often travels to oversee quality structural fabrication overseas and explains that the Building Council of Australia now regulates these facilities to ensure quality products.

Prefabrication of modular solutions in a controlled factory environment exercises a great degree of control over construction quality compared to on-site workmanship, thereby reducing risk. Gary explains that when clients are considering modular design, one of the first questions he asks is where the components will be fabricated.

The increasing trend towards modular design is based on compelling benefits for developers and architects. Wood & Grieve’s structural team is experiencing increased demand for modular design, and the team assists clients with design, certification of modular elements, overseeing fabrication and inspection of existing structures. Current WGE modular projects include a range of hotels and residential projects. For more information on modular projects contact Gary Sollitt.