Manufacturing New Houses At Scale
All of the 20,000 or so new houses that are built in New Zealand every year are built using a largely manual process by skill builders. There is currently a shortage of around 5,000 builders in New Zealand, and any new home buyer will have to wait at least a year to get their house unless they are prepared to bribe somebody. Apparently there are fewer houses to be built in Auckland than originally predicted.
A very attractive alternative for New Zealand is the large scale manufacturing of new houses by one or two companies, as these companies just need to purchase the automation and robot equipment and then get going. Overseas such companies can build more houses in their one manufacturing plant then as built in all of New Zealand, and by building at this very large scale they are able to keep their costs probably 50 below the equivalent building a New Zealand. Also they are able to produce vastly more houses, and do this profitably because the labour component for each house is only a fraction of what others for the current New Zealand building techniques.
Simply put, the more houses the manufacturer can manufacture then the cheaper the houses will be.
Out at the building site the job of the skilled builder changes from having to be a jack of all trades particularly when erecting framing and roof trusses and all the work involved, and instead being an assembler of very accurately manufactured wall panels and roof. Erecting the pre manufactured wall panels and roof just needs a good crane and a good operator and a couple of skilled builders for a day, and this has been proven on one good example by a major manufacturer.
The builders then need to go through the house to fit it and finish it, but we’re as normally it would take them probably 3 weeks to get to this point, it can be as little as two or three days with a prefabricated house.
The beauty of this modern technique is not only that the houses are much cheaper to build this way, they are also much faster and the panels and the finish is much higher quality simply because the fabrication process in the factory users full automation and computer aided design and processes.
The customer is also very happy in the process, because not only do they get a much cheaper house, they get a superior fitting finish and plus they get a house that is their own design, in the sense that they have chosen the house from a large Bunch of plans. It is the modern way to order anything, and it is surprising that this type of manufacturing process has not yet taken off in New Zealand. However the new government may become a large-scale purchaser of new housing, and this in itself maybe enough encouragement for a manufacturer to make the large capital investment needed in the automation and Robotics equipment.