NSW Targets Prefab Construction to Close 377,000 Housing Gap

More than 80% of building elements could be from prefabricated materials.

Wed 15 Nov 23


The NSW Government is looking at modular and prefab construction solutions to meet housing targets as the state grapples with a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

That is according to the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, who confirmed that the state government will look at “all options” to meet its 377,000 housing shortage, which is multiplying rapidly.

Announced yesterday, the NSW housing market is amongst the tightest real estate markets in the Western world, with over 50,000 on the social and affordable housing waiting list.

Yesterday, Minister Scully discussed modular housing “as an efficient constriction method,” which he said will “rapidly increase housing supply in a considerably faster timeframe than traditional construction.” 

In August, the NSW Premier threw his support behind a quick fix to the state’s housing crisis. He says modular homes – the kind that can be built within weeks – could prove essential as our population booms—footage courtesy of @7News.

Last month, Wood Central reported that governments have “zero chance” of meeting ambitious housing targets without significant investment in modular and prefabrication construction.

The crux is that Australia does not have the labour resources to deliver on its housing targets without prefabricated construction. According to Infrastructure Australia, demand for construction will reach “unprecedented levels” by 2025, with labour shortages peaking “at 93,000 workers in early 2023 or 48% higher than projected supply.”

According to PrefabAus, Australia can unlock social, economic and environmental value by using prefabrication to build “smart buildings.”

A new report, presented at the Offsite 2023 conference in September, is looking to the penetration of prefabrication to cover 80% of all new building elements.

The report claims Australia “has the right conditions to increase uptake in all these areas.”

These include an unmet supply of construction demand, a limited supply of skilled labour and a growing cohort of innovative businesses supplying quality solutions to the market.

However, “when it comes to production, manufacturing and assembly, Australia’s efforts are fragmented, lacking in scale and digital take-up.”

Fleetwood is the largest Australian-owned and operated modular building provider, with manufacturing facilities in 5 states nationwide—footage courtesy of @fleetwood.

Australia’s largest player in modular construction, Fleetwood Australia, claims that it has the production, manufacturing and assembly capacity to meet partially meet demand.

Having worked with the WA State Government and QBuild to deliver affordable housing solutions, Bruce Nicolson, CEO of Fleetwood Australia, urges the NSW Government to “think modular” to solve the housing crisis.

“Housing shortages in New South Wales are at crisis level, and Fleetwood Australia is committed to working with Governments, housing providers and community developers to tackle the issue.” 

He claims the company can now deliver 1,500 new homes annually from seven factories across Australia.

“Our build times are measured in weeks and months rather than years, which is vital for people doing it tough,” said Nicholson.

“There is no faster way than modular building to swiftly deliver the volume of housing needed in New South Wales,” asserting Fleetwood Australia’s determination to increase the stock of community and social housing.

The project was featured in a NZ Gov case study—footage courtesy of @MBIEgovtnz.

NSW risks being left behind “in the race for prefab construction,” with the NZ Government working with modular and prefab construction suppliers to meet an urgent demand for mid-rise and high-rise housing projects.

Under the model, buildings are connected by a series of pre-built modules, stacking each on top to build the apartments. The apartment modules are then transported directly from the factory, with up to 95% of the fixtures and fittings already assembled into place. 

From a small pilot plant in South Auckland, it aspires to scale up volumes to produce 2,000 apartments and 4,000 modules yearly.

The Balmoral Quay project under construction – one of several Cross Laminated Offsite Solution projects using cross-laminated and glulam timbers. (Photo Credit: CLOS)

In Victoria, the state government is working with Cross Laminated Offsite Solutions to deliver up to 500 to 1000 prefabricated low-rise dwellings that are “faster, cheaper and cut waste.”

“Prefabrication will mean the net-zero dwellings can be simply bolted together on site with the finished homes being made available to families in need, using a shared-equity finance model,” the Victorian State Government said.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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