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Scoping standardisation solutions for offsite manufacturing of homes

Offsite manufacturing, or OSM, of residential properties is not new to New Zealand. However, there are barriers that exist to this being scaled more widely. Standards New Zealand has been commissioned to scope a project to help address this.

New Zealand town houses

New Zealand’s construction sector, while often reflecting a ‘boom or bust’ cycle, currently is experiencing pressing demands for the provision of new homes. Currently, most New Zealand homes are built using traditional construction methods, which can place pressure on a sector already experiencing skills and resource availability challenges and increasing material costs.

The building and construction industry is innovating by making use of manufacturing technology and processes to increase productivity and quality. Offsite manufacturing refers to the building components that are manufactured offsite and then assembled either offsite or on-site. These advances help deliver precise, repeatable, and consistent construction, resulting in high quality buildings and building products with fewer defects.

A recent investigation into residential building and supply chains by the Commerce Commission led to recommendations to coordinate and boost offsite manufacturing including:

  • Creating more clear compliance pathways for a range of buildings.
  • Developing strategies and solutions for offsite manufacturing.

Building Performance launched New Zealand’s new voluntary certification scheme for modular component manufacturers (BuiltReady) late last year. They have now commissioned Standards New Zealand to scope the potential for a New Zealand Standard to complement the BuiltReady scheme and increase the use of offsite manufacturing in the construction sector.

Any solution would likely look to provide a system-based standard that would allow room for innovation and a variety of construction types and products. At this stage, the scoping exercise will focus on the problem definition and a broad, sensible scope for a possible offsite manufacturing standard.

From here, Standards New Zealand will form a representative group of industry experts who will scope industry, consumer and regulatory needs to ensure any outcome meets the needs of all users. We are excited to be involved in this project that will hopefully lead to new innovative and future-focused construction techniques that can ensure more people can access affordable and quality housing in future.