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REDUNDANT car industry engineers, designers and managers recently found new opportunities with the innovative of any revolution in building and construction.

About 20 of these very skilled workers have been employed by the Melbourne-based Hickory Group to be effective around the design and manufacture of prefab house, and also components which go into conventional builds.

Australia lags behind other industrial countries in using prefab and modular construction though these techniques offer numerous advantages. Not only will be the build time halved and also the cost reduced, this factory-based procedure for construction allows buildings to get placed in locations where construction staff is difficult to get. And that means industrial jobs in cities and regional centres for workers afflicted with economic restructuring.

Hickory Group has to date completed 16 prefab builds, including office towers, hotels or even a hospital during the last seven years. Some have already been as tall as nine storeys, together with a Perth public housing project which was completed in just ten days.

It’s now begun making prefab bathrooms that have been sold to many other developers and slotted into apartment buildings all over Sydney and Melbourne. In a single of Hickory’s own projects in Collins Street, Melbourne, it produced more than 700 bathrooms for your 65-storey building.

The advantages of prefab and modular construction are compelling, yet not everyone gets it. The government government’s industry “growth centre” agenda, which targets five key sectors based upon advice from McKinsey along with the Business Council, doesn’t mention this industry.

But Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who saw one of Hickory’s Melbourne buildings this month, told The Australian that the technique presented an “exciting prospect”. Innovation in industry and the application of new technology and its particular result on the workforce have been at the heart from the Powering Australia series this current year.

Macfarlane met with Hickory’s joint managing director Michael Argyrou, who told him how former car industry designers and engineers were very skilled at finishing products to your extremely high standard. Macfarlane’s views about prefab were reinforced a couple weeks ago when executives from South Korean steel giant Posco told him these people were developing their prefab capacity.

Argyrou said the Victorian government had been very supportive of their strategy. He said former car industry managers and designers were actually better at precision-oriented work than people who have a construction industry background. “They add a big level of value to our business; they can be a lot better at it than what a construction guy will be,” he explained. Their skills were “very transferable” and the company planned to integrate them into the business throughout the prefab components production and then “slowly adjust them to the construction industry”.

Hickory had about 75 workers at steel workshop and was trying to growing this business to around 200 workers across the next a couple of years.

Modular construction differs from prefab in this the building usually can be purchased in a steel container. During the last fourteen days a modular home made in Geelong and Mittagong continues to be assembled with a Sydney clifftop in the space of just eight days.

The design and style by Sydney-based Tektum was integrated the factory, loaded in to a container then unfolded and assembled on-site at Bilgola Plateau.

Tektum’s co-founder Nicolas Perren said the organization was applying car manufacturing strategies to home and building construction. But unlike many modular homes, our prime-quality finish led the majority of people to conclude that this had been a conventional build.

“Few of the visitors assume that it really has been transported on the standard truck and unfolded on-site with bathrooms and kitchen in position. Them all leave convinced this is basically the way forward for construction,” Perren said. Tektum has built a residential facility for disabled individuals Wodonga and it is now chasing about a dozen new projects in Australia and Nz. Some examples are a childcare centre, remote clinics in Queensland, a golf resort in NSW, community halls and a 300-500 house development in Christchurch.

Curtin University’s Jemma Green, whose research is focused on sustainable housing, is impressed with Tektum’s design and says modular housing is a more efficient and cost-effective construction method. She said the shorter build time meant significant savings for investors plus a much higher rate of return. There is less waste active in the manufacturing process and the buildings also delivered better energy use. “Building conventionally is really disruptive in the city. It is disruptive for the community, in the roads. Modular is really a more rapid reaction to a demand that exists,” said Green, a former investment banker with JPMorgan.

But Green was highly critical of your inflexible approach taken by banks which regularly refused to finance these builds mainly because construction was taking place in a factory rather than at your location.

The owner from the Bilgola Plateau home, who asked to not be named, said modular approach was better suited for the steep slope of your block because the container was dropped by way of a crane straight into the 06dexspky sub-frame after which unpacked.

But he admitted there seemed to be a perception problem. “A home is an important-ticket item. People consider it as prefab homes in comparison to a custom build. It is a perception,” he was quoted saying.