Factory Built Housing

Developers and investors in diverse cities worldwide, including Australia are increasingly turning to off-site construction methods to meet housing demands in the face of high costs, time delays and land shortages. Modular housing production has been a time solution to the housing shortages of many US cities and is gaining mass market popularity in Australia. Developers and builders are also embracing factory-built designs to construct hotels and apartments. Factory-built housing has long existed for single family homes as well buildings based on standard designs, such as remote housing. However, improved design and a new range of materials is helping to take this approach mainstream. Alongside advances in technology and an increasing demand for affordable housing, this trend is finally entering a new maturity. One key factor is more up-to-date designs, and it’s possible. It’s worth recalling that architects like Frank Lloyd Wright launched a prefab housing project that was cut short by World War 1. While from 1908 to 1940, Sears in the USA sold 75,000 mail order homes.

Robot Builders

As factory-built homes take off there’s also the arrival of robot-built construction, which is already making early inroads to commercial construction. Soon we’ll be asking is it truly smart if it’s not built by a robot? It’s already a reality. A three-story building is currently under construction in Zurich and it’s the product of five robots, each armed with a special digital fabrication skill set needed to autonomously construct a building. A key example is the building’s decorative ceiling that’s half the weight of typical concrete slabs. The architects created the casting in a 3D-printed mould designed with clever software, that was able to devise a design that uses the minimal amount of concrete. The design and use of robots and software allowed for major savings on material and weight, but also created a result that’s simply beautiful.

Lending Standards

On the 6th of August 2016 the RBA cut official interest rates by 0.25% and now 2-years later they remain. It’s interesting to review in-part what the RBA statement said in 2016: “Supervisory measures have strengthened lending standards in the housing market. Separately, a number of lenders are also taking a more cautious attitude to lending in certain segments.” The RBA appears to be looking to the banks to control or cool lending a clear signal that direct interest rate policy may have run its course. This week’s statement continues previous sentiment: “Housing credit growth has declined to an annual rate of 5½ per cent. This is largely due to reduced demand by investors as the dynamics of the housing market have changed. Lending standards are also tighter than they were a few years ago, partly reflecting APRA’s earlier supervisory measures to help contain the build-up of risk in household balance sheets. There is competition for borrowers of high credit quality.”

Economic Boost

There’s little doubt that Sydney needs its new airport at Badgerys Creek. The impact on the state’s economy will be massive generating both employment and demand for housing. An analysis by Deloitte Access Economics demonstrates this. Deloitte’s key findings include: An estimated impact on the Western Sydney economy between 2020-2050 of $9.2 billion and $15.6 billion and on the whole of Sydney’s economy of between $15.7 billion and $25.6 billion (in net present value terms). Employment will also jump: Average additional employment over the same time could increase between 12,645 and 19,982 (full time jobs) for Western Sydney and between 20,601 and 31,736 (full time jobs) for the Sydney region.

Visual Marketing

Today, thanks in big-part to the spread and speed of social media, visual marketing (photos, videos and CGIs) are more important than ever. People are used to easy access to an endless stream of images and video to experience products and goods firsthand and that expectation includes all forms of real estate. In any real estate market, the first impression good visuals make can’t be underestimated. No matter how compelling copy might be potential buyers always respond to great images. High quality photographs are essential. Along with well-crafted CGIs they provide added emotional impact and engagement with a property. While hardnosed statistic might not be easy to find the market’s perception of a property is dramatically increased when professional photography is used to both convey details but also create an emotional connection with buyers.

Cities Leading Design

On a world-wide scale urban design is presenting both opportunities and challenges and according to Metropolis Magazine there’s a select handful of cities doing a good job; London, Mexico City, Berlin, Milan, Tokyo, Paris, New York, LA, Shanghai and Copenhagen. Each of these cities have taken a local combination of urban development, culture and architectural excellence to deliver great results. Good design has been used to influence projects as diverse as new metro-links and stations to waterfront redevelopments and the re-cycling of former industrial sites. In cities like Tokyo traditional arts and culture and being blended to create fresh urban environments. Sydney’s big-ticket infrastructure projects are also reflecting this trend, as planners readily acknowledge that great design really does energise great cities.