Public Comment

Overcoming regulatory barriers for prefab homes

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has released a consultation paper that explores the regulatory barriers limiting the uptake of modular and prefabricated home construction.

“Builders, trades and homeowners are looking at innovative ways to build – for speed, accuracy and finish,” says HIA Chief Executive Industry Policy Kristin Brookfield. “However, our current building codes, standards, planning and building regulations, and financial systems were created with traditional homes and construction methods in mind.

“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. 

“For manufacturers and suppliers looking to bring new materials and construction systems to market, there is often a hesitancy by designers, planners and building surveyors to accept these alternatives because they don’t fit the mould.

“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 offsite and modular or system-based construction methods over the next five, 10 and 20 years.

“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.”

Issues being examined by the HIA are more tailored building codes and standards; overcoming planning rules that control the size and location of homes or the types of external finishes used; and home-building contracts that recognise the offsite pathway. 

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

The HIA’s project forms part of series of initiatives being undertaken through the AMGC Pre-fab Innovation Hub, to which the federal government committed in July 2020. There are seven projects under way to build the Hub.

The consultation paper is open for submissions until January 27, 2022. Interested parties are invited to review the paper and provide comments.

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