Exploring the beliefs of Australian prefabricated house builders

Main Article Content

Dale A Steinhardt
Karen Manley

Abstract

The housing sector accounts for a majority of newly constructed buildings. Prefabrication, defined as the factory construction of houses or significant components, is widely promoted as a means to improve efficiency. This paper focuses on the research questions: RQ1. What are the attitudes of builders towards prefabrication adoption? RQ2. What types of stakeholders do builders believe influence their adoption decisions? RQ3. What types of contextual influences do builders believe impact their adoption decisions? Current prefabrication research has focused on the advantages and disadvantages of prefabrication, without further unpacking the beliefs of stakeholders that underpin them. This paper addresses this gap and increases the understanding of beliefs that can frame interventions to increase the market penetration of prefabrication. Fourteen interviews with Australian prefabricators were undertaken as a Belief Elicitation Study. This qualitative methodology is framed by the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). Results show that modern high-quality prefabricated housing has struggled to overcome historical stigma; improved construction speed has not and is not likely to translate to reduced totals costs for a majority of firms; and prefabrication adoption has been hindered by an almost completely unsupportive industry infrastructure. Recommendations are made to frame arguments in improving short-term outcomes for an industry driven by practical considerations. Future discourse must focus on cost impacts, financial security and risk reduction. Establishing networks of prefabricators that can build a strong, unified voice for the industry should be prioritised. 

Article Details

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Articles (Peer reviewed)
Author Biographies

Dale A Steinhardt, Queensland University of Technology

Research Fellow, School of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment, Queensland University of Technology

Karen Manley, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Associate Professor in Construction Management, School of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment, Queensland University of Technology