A trial of prefab building materials conducted by Mirvac in western Sydney highlights the advantages of the alternative construction method.

One of Australia’s leading property developers is turning to prefab construction methods to dramatically reduce work times amidst a labour shortage in the building sector.

According to David Haller, Mirvac’s master planned communities national operations manager, the decision to make greater use prefab building has been prompted the shortage of tradies resulting from a spike in construction activity.

Residential projects could be left sitting idle for as long as three months, due to a lack of sufficient tradies to handle work on-site.

The shortage of tradies first became noticeable just several years ago, when the construction industry began to seen a uptick in market demand.

Labour scarcity in the building sector is set to worsen  further in the near-term, with housing construction one of few healthy areas in an Australian economy still reeling from the slowdown in the resources boom.

According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics building approvals leapt by 8.6 per cent in the 12 months to June, with construction work set to begin for as many as 200,000 new dwellings this financial year.

According to Haller, the use of prefab building methods could be one means of catering to this surge in construction demand, and overcoming the pressing lack of hands on deck.

To this end, Mirvac has trialled the use of the CSR Velocity system for prefabricated walls on housing in the outer western Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Hills.

The company decided to test the benefits of prefab construction by building a pair identical two-storey homes adjacent to each other – one using conventional methods, and the other using CSR Velocity’s modular walls.

According to Haller the difference in time required to complete the two projects was staggering.

While the conventional build took 24 weeks to finish under optimum circumstances with all necessary labour available, the CSR Velocity homes was finished in a mere 14 weeks – or 40 per cent less time.

The system also permits sharp reductions in building costs and total work time, which in turn results in a 50 per cent reduction on supervisor costs, as well as savings on interest.

Mirvac’s implementation of the system could serve a pathfinder in the usage of prefab building for other members of the property and construction industries given the development giant’s clout.