In 2016 a number of headlines pointed to one enormously important thing. The construction industry around the world is undergoing a shift that might give China prefab manufacturers a leading role.
China prefab manufacturers have always been important in the construction sector. The country is the world’s leading producer of modular building products. However, their biggest advantage has always been cost savings. Now, developers are increasingly associating Chinese prefab with quality as well.
Before getting to the top indicators of this change, we should consider the most important factor. China has over 7,000 prefab manufacturers, more than any other country. That means, yes, there are plenty of low-grade factories out there. But the sheer number of players and the amount of R&D investment have created options for those considering prefab for luxury residential houses, like this one, or high-end commercial structures.
While Prefabmarket.com is in the business of connecting architects, builders and developers with the right Chinese manufacturers for their projects, we think the following facts speak for themselves.
China prefab manufacturers are getting tremendous contracts abroad.
Last year the UK’s Your Housing Group signed a £2.5bn deal with the state-owned China National Building Material Company. The money and the project size are both unprecedented for prefab developments. It entails 25,000 new homes over the next five years.
The news is significant because it means a large Chinese prefab firm will be working long-term with some foreign companies to solve the UK’s housing crisis. The the other primary partner for the project is renewable energy company WeLink.
The benefits of this partnership go both ways. Besides the payoff, Chinese manufacturers will gain the experience of building according to the UK’s strict regulations and codes on a large scale. The UK won’t just acquire affordable housing, but infrastructure and training for future prefab projects. As part of the deal, CNBM will build six factories in the UK set to employ 1,000.
The Asia-Pacific region has a rapidly growing body of prefab policy and research.
Singapore, for example, has mandated elements of prefabricated, pre-finished, volumetric construction (PPVC) for all projects on government land. The government backs this with subsidies for companies that participate, with the aim of increasing and standardizing modern methods of construction (MMC) in the country.
Last year, China announced that 30% of new buildings would be prefab structures.
“Statistics provided by enterprises showed that construction time can be cut up to a third in some projects,” said Chen Yiming of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. “Use of construction materials such as cement, water, and wood can be reduced by at least 15 percent.”
Some Asia-Pacific countries, like Japan, already have highly developed prefab industries. Others, like Australia, have recently made substantial research investments. Either way, as the industry evolves, it’s clear China will supply more and more construction materials for housing to its neighbors.
Of course, it’s important to remember that a large part of China’s prefab manufacturing has a long way to go as well. We’ll cover some challenges Chinese prefab construction has to overcome to be industry-leading in next week’s post.