Housing is a basic need for mankind in all countries and its affordability can play a large role in creating communities that are happy with their lives. Most residential housing is still being built in the same way that it was 50 years ago, though most other industries have made rapid strides in the technologies that they use.
While limited land supply in cities and restrictions on building due to zoning laws also affect costs, it is the greater use of emerging technologies that can help to reduce costs and increase the affordability of housing. It is only a residential production building system of building houses that can bring them within reach for the common man.
Cost reduction in any production system is enabled through the use of high volumes and repetition, and if this is applied to housing, homes will become more affordable. This requires creating common building standards, moving away from one-off designs, and increasing the repeatability of plans that allow the scale of building to be built up so that it goes closer to a production system. Products and building methods need to be standardized, allowing for mass building that can reduce costs.
These production methods can lead to greater automation that increases productivity and reduces labor costs. Project costs for residential production building system can be reduced if greater use is made of standardization and approaching construction as an industry. Manufacturing prefabricated buildings offsite in factory controlled conditions and assembling them on-site can not only reduce costs but also reduce the amount of time to build houses. Modular designs can go a long way in allowing some elements of customization that can greatly help in the marketing of housing. Employing standard and reusable products can also allow for faster procurement and use of products, but also address maintenance requirements in the future.
The concept of converting the construction of houses into housing production is simple in concept but has proved difficult to implement in reality. Developing capabilities for off-site fabrication requires substantial investments that will only be justified by a high degree of utilization of the capacities set up in factory-like conditions. Housing has always been volatile and very prone to the economic conditions that are constantly changing, and as investors do not see any return on capital invested in production facilities, they are not coming forward to hasten the process of residential production building systems.
Production building of homes is not justified for small-time builders who build just a few homes every year. But even small and medium volume builders can move towards this method of building if they make better use of enterprise resource planning, CAD, and other tools that can help them to reduce costs. The use of standard designs and products can reduce supply times and help in accelerating the time required to build homes. They require to move towards the use of factory-made components, and if they do this in greater numbers, these factories themselves will become profitable and invite the required investments.