Yesterday's Fletcher Building strategy briefing brought not only news of a new greenfield plant for Winstone Wallboards, but also confirmation of a panelisation factory of some scale for the Residential & Development division under Steve Evans.
News of this has been circulating for a while now since Fletcher Living tested a quick-build of a duplex apartment using prefabricated elements last year (see image above and go here for more details - scroll down to "Fletcher’s prefab – proof of concept?").
Having completed the two-storey duplex home in West Auckland to weathertightness in just three days, finishing took a further seven weeks, compared to around 22 weeks for a conventional build.
Taking this further, in July, having worked with Auckland Council around the consenting process to ensure the panelised approach can be scaled up, Fletcher's will build five terraced homes.
Now it's confirmed there are plans to put more behind panelised methodology with a full-blown factory and the company says it is currently negotiating a lease on premises in Auckland.
The new panel factory will be used to service Fletcher Living’s Auckland house building programme, including Fletcher Living’s "desire to participate in KiwiBuild".
Indeed, Minister Twyford has several times already mentioned prefabrication as a likely means to boost the Government's Kiwibuild delivery.
The company is looking initially for control and speed of production out of the new panel factory, with cost savings further down the line, probably once volume builds with additional external clients.
"Once factory production is proven and meeting Fletcher Living’s targets, we will investigate demand from other builders for the purchase of panels," it says.
"We see a factory that, in the future, can allow us to work with builders who are aligned to a panelised delivery system to bring their own plans and have them mass manufactured to enable speed of building."
The company has begun the process of developing a design library to enable architects’ plans to “speak” to the production machinery and will shortly order the equipment for the factory.
The first panels should come off the line in 2019.