Analysis: Nasty surprise for WA building

Western Australia’s high cost economy has produced a nasty surprise for the local building industry.


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I guess the pressing question is 'where are cost pressures within the WA residential construction industry?' I expect it would be an error to assume that subcontract labour rates are the material contributor.

I'm afraid sub-contractor rates are a huge part of the problem. We pay more for less in this city. And then it's often the cost of staffing to suppliers that inflates material costs.

Had to happen eventually. Prices of construction continue to escalate, quality of work is questionable and timelines are laughable. Skill shortage maybe? Why should the consumer constantly be at the disadvantage? Modular housing isn't a household name just yet (in perth anyway) but with time, marketing And education it just may be.

Bassendean, WA
Having recently researched local versus interstate offerings of pre-fabricated homes, I suggest that the primary driver for the choice of an interstate supplier is the poor choice of designs on offer locally. Queensland, NSW and Victorian providers are just way ahead in offering Architect- designed "alternative" homes that are energy and space efficient and are not either tacky copies of standard houses or glorified "Dongas". Good examples offering exciting designs, and well organised supply systems are Modscape, Happyhaus and Prebuilt. Nothing like their designs are available locally. The fact it is substantially cheaper to truck them in then confirms your point on local costs.

I'm sure a local builder could have built a modular home for a similar price. West Australians have been brainwashed that double brick construction is the 'best' way to build. Whilst we are paying for the laborious tasks of laying one brick at a time and then covering the walls in render by hand our homes will always be more expensive than any modular product. West Australians don't like the sound of knocking a gyprock wall regardless of how good the insulation is so until one of the big builders starts to market timber framed homes we will always be more expensive with double brick. Construction costs in Perth over the last few years have been relatively flat.

East Fremantle
One of the biggest impediments in our experience to acceptance of Modular Construction is breaking the strangehold of the brick-and-tile mentality, and offering "value-for-money" when comparing to the residential project home builders. The Swiss couple come from a much more accepting background of not only modular construction, but lightweight construction solutions. fabABODE have been producing quality well designed modular buildings for several years from Perth to the WA market. Convincing the WA buyer of the value of design is one of our consistent uphill battles in this market.

Don't forget the cost to live in Perth is also a factor ,prices of groceries ,fuel are higher here than over east ,and being in the construction industry the quality of work in Perth is far better than the east

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