On Wednesday morning, UDIA hosted our last Industry Breakfast of 2019 which focused around Modern Methods of Construction – The Changing Nature of How we Build.

The breakfast began with a presentation from EY Oceania Engineering & Construction Leader Bert Bardoel who delivered some fairly startling predictions about the way we will live, work and build in the next 10 years. By 2030, he predicted most people will employ the use of self-drive cars and use artificial intelligence for our shopping, both of which will have a big impact on the type of buildings and amenities that will be needed into the future.

Next, Mr Bardoel provided an overview of how construction companies can look to implement ‘Lean’ methodologies into their projects and procurement methods, following the example of Toyota using it to revolutionise and dramatically reduce the cost of car manufacture. Mr Bardoel said Skanska is one of the leading construction exponents of this methodology and encouraged attendees to look into how they are using it.

Finishing off his presentation Mr Bardoel showcased why he believes cross laminated timber (CLT) could be the preferred construction method to concrete into the future. He said it was five times lighter than concrete but had similar strength and properties and was much more environmentally friendly. He said the environmental impacts of construction methods would become an increasingly bigger deciding factor as carbon taxes and climate change impacts become greater.

Following Mr Bardoel, Serneke Deputy CEO Michael Berglin provided a presentation of how Swedish company Serneke has become the most dynamic construction firm in Sweden since its inception in 2002.

Off the back of a significant rise in the domestic market, the company is looking to spread into the international market and has chosen Australia as the place it would like to build its international presence over the next 10 years.

Mr Berglin believes that one of the reasons for Serneke’s rise in Sweden is due to its approach that places function before design, allowing the organisation to find innovative approaches to existing problems.

During his presentation Mr Berglin provided examples of several projects Serneke has undertaken including the tallest building in Scandinavia, the development of 33 apartments in two fully CLT buildings and a Joint Venture that will create the world’s most sustainable ski resort by 2028 through the use of CLT.

The final key-note presentation came from EY partner Bill Scanlan who provided the findings from a recent study commissioned by UDIA WA looking into Alternative Construction methods in the Western Australian market.

One of the biggest findings to come out of Mr Scanlan’s presentation was the fact that 76% of new detached houses in Western Australia were framed using double brick construction with only around 10% of homes built with timber framing. This was in direct contrast to the other major states in Australia with each using timber framing in over 80% of new detached homes.

Mr Scanlan said there were a number of benefits to WA being behind the other states in the uptake of timber-framed construction including being able to learn from mistakes made in the other states and an opportunity to capitalise on significant cost savings.

Among the reasons why WA is predominantly a double-brick construction state is because it has been a more efficient construction method than the other alternative methods on offer in the WA context.

Finishing off the breakfast was a panel discussion with the three keynote speakers joined by Department of Communities Director Policy Tiffany Allen where attendees were invited to ask questions of the panel using the interactive question app Slido.

In talking about how WA can embrace alternative methods of construction more readily Ms Allen said getting more well-designed examples of projects built using modern construction methods was key but as this takes time, she said community education programs was the way forward in the short term.

Mr Scanlan built on this and said the true success of modern construction methods came down to community acceptance, looking at quality examples showcasing how these building methods will benefit the community now and into the future.

Mr Berglin said one of the keys to a successful uptake of modern construction methods was embracing the great work that has already been created using traditional construction methods and using it to shape the modern landscapes and buildings into the future. He was keen to point out he is not anti-brick, and there are options to use brick in conjunction with other building methods rather than being the sole method.

On the whole the last Industry Breakfast of 2019 provided an engaging and thought-provoking discussion around how WA can build upon its strong platform of double-brick built homes and embrace the future technologies and construction methods now and into the future.

A summary report of the UDIA commissioned research into Modern Methods of Construction along with UDIA’s response will be released to members in the coming weeks.

A big thanks to our event supporters – Industry Partner; Department of Communities and Event Sponsors; Parcel Property & CLE Town Planning & Design.