Due to the current Economic Crisis, there has been renewed interest in prefabricated housing in Australia. Few people would argue that a factory prefabricated car or a factory produced piece of furniture is somehow low quality, however when it comes to housing, the reputation of prefabricated housing is still quite dismal. Prefabricated housing in Australia has done little to dispel its reputation as being cheap and ugly.

In the USA Sears and Roebuck published its first modern homes catalogue in 1908. Over the next 32 years the compnay delivered over 70,000 homes, making it the largest housing provider in the world at the time. In Sweden, although most are traditional in style, over 90 percent of single family homes are prefabricated.

Clearly the popularity of prefabricated building stems from its economic benefits. The cost savings derived from factory manufacturing, standardisation of components, economies of scale when ordering materials and much shorter construction times cannot be overstated.

Encouraged by US and European examples of Architect designed prefabrication, Australian companies have seen a new market open up for aesthetically designed, energy efficient, comfortable buildings that may not be as inexpensive as there predecessors, but are worlds apart in appearance. Manufacturers, particularly in Victoria, have lead the way in popularising the concept of energy efficient prefabricated homes.

Nowdays there are many choices in the type of prefabrication utilised. These range from Transportable Prefabricated homes that are completely maufactured in a factory to Composite Prefabricated homes that utilise building elements and components such as prefabricated framing, kitchens and bathrooms. The type of prefabrication system utilised can generally be divided into the following:

Transportable Prefabricated homes: These are modules fabricated in a factory, complete with all services and finishes, then transorted to site via a truck and craned into place. They are very economical and fast but the size of the modules are limited by the width and length of the vehicles delivering them, generally about 4.2m wide x 15m long.

Flat Pack Prefabricated homes: Generally constructed from modular wall units fabricated in a factory complete with all services and finishes which are fitted into a site-erected framing system. The framing system can be timber but in Australia it is usually steel framed. These are also cost effective but involve more on site construction time.

Tilt Up or Precast Concrete homes: Constructed using large concrete panels of about 150mm thickness, either cast on site or precast in a factory, then erected using a crane.They can be self supporting, using other panels or fixed to a steel frame. They are also vey cost effective and fast to erect, but generally require an interior fit-out including services and finishes. A new development in precast has been the introduction of insulation into the panels to provide greater thermal efficiency.These are called CIC panels.

Composite Prefabricated homes: These are homes which use traditional elements such as concrete slabs and steel frames but have prefabricated elements such as glazing frames, kitchens, bathrooms and joinery. They are probably the least cost effective prefabricated homes but they provide all the advantages of traditional building with a lower cost proportional to the extent of prefabrication involved.

Prefabricated home websites:










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