HIA Calls for Overhaul of Prefab Regulation - Building Codes

  • Article by: Sally Wood

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has called for an overhaul of regulations surrounding the prefabrication building market in a move to modernise building codes.

The association has this month released a paper calling for industry feedback on the regulatory barriers preventing a greater uptake of modular and prefabricated construction in new home building.

HIA Chief Executive Industry Policy Kristin Brookfield and member of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centres (AMGC) Pre Fab Innovation Hub Steering Committee says the association is eager to understand and overcome the regulatory difficulties facing the industry.

“We know there are a range of hurdles standing in the way of prefabricated and modular construction system and we want to hear what the industry is experiencing so we can work together to find the right solutions.”

installation of modular home

The Rise of Prefabrication 

At the moment, the prefabricated building market makes up just 3% of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry, but Mordor Intelligence predicts this will climb to 15% by 2025.

Brookfield says regulations must be willing to adapt to the evolving construction landscape or risk hindering progress.

“Given the likelihood of a steady increase in fast-tracked building solutions entering the Australian market, we expect a vast number of construction projects including housing, will move to off-site ad modular or system-based construction methods over the next 5, 10 and 20 years,” she said.

“It is critical that there is a clear understanding of the regulatory barriers that exist today so that we can set the industry up for success by identifying the potential solutions sooner rather than later.”

Under current regulations, many prefab processes are hindered or denied due to a fundamental lack of adaptability, says Brookfield.

Builders, trades and home owners are looking at innovative ways to build – for speed, accuracy and finish. However, our current building codes, standards, planning and building regulations, and financial systems were created with traditional homes and construction methods in mind,” she said.

“These regulatory barriers can be time consuming and add further costs to building projects. They can also result in inconsistent outcomes for industry and consumers, with the potential for non-approval.”

Brookfield says the HIA are aware of potential solutions surrounding the need for tailored building codes and standards, a reconsideration of planning rules that control the size and location of homes and external finishes used, and the recognition of ‘off-site’ construction pathways.

The push for clearer understanding of these barriers by HIA comes in a series of projects being undertaken through the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) Pre-fab Innovation Hub.

modular home construction

The Prefab Innovation Hub

The Prefab Innovation Hub was proposed by Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in 2019. It was introduced with the aim to strengthen Australia’s position in the global prefabricated building market.

Seven projects are currently underway to establish the Hub after it was granted approval last year.

Once operational, the Hub will support new technologies and innovations to evolve the industry in its ability to provide smarter, more affordable and more sustainable construction solutions.

It will be a full scale lab supporting work on a wide range of residential and commercial buildings, providing a much needed link between the construction and manufacturing sectors.



Published: 14/01/2022
Author: Sally Wood