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    Innovation could rectify longer building times

    Lisa Rapley

    New research conducted by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has found the time required to build a detached house has increased from six to ten months on average, meaning less houses are being built.

    One reason given in the new research is that houses are bigger, therefore take longer to build. The median floor size of new homes has increased by 39 per cent, from 138m2 in 1990 to 192m2 in 2007.

    However, this average house size plateaued in the early 2000s, yet the time taken to build continued to increase.

    The research details three key factors contributing to this increasing amount of time.First is that customisation of house design has increased. Options available to buyers have increased and resulted in houses that are less standardised.

    Secondly, skills required of building supervisors have become more complex with each supervisor responsible for up to 15 houses at the same time in large companies. With supervisors drawing on the same pool of contractors, delays can easily occur.

    Finally, building surveyors find poor quality work results in call-backs to fix the issue, once again adding to the building time.

    According to RMIT lecturer Ehsan Gharaie, architects, building designers and builders need to focus on innovation in order to rectify this issue and increase housing production, particularly when there are limited skilled resources.

    Gharaie says there have been many innovations in material and building products, but there needs to be innovation in process as well.

    “Builders need to manage their resources better. Applying production planning concepts (used in manufacturing) into building construction could be one of these innovations. Using new scheduling methods, focusing on time waste as well as material waste, and Quality Management techniques such as Lean and Six Sigma could bring effective changes.”

    These process innovations need the involvement of designers, he says.

    “Techniques such as Offsite Manufacture, Modularisation, and Standardisation are some examples that architects and designers can consider in their designs and populate in the industry.”

    Additionally, a close collaboration between research community and industry could significantly enhance this path, Gharaie concludes.

    To read the full AHURi research, click here.


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