Thrifty developers should go modular
A building company is raising its sights by planning to build New Zealand’s first modular high-rise.
Matrix Homes in Trentham which already does modular housing is planning to do the same for hotels and apartment buildings.
It is in talks with a developer for a 61-unit, inner-city apartment block in Wellington’s Victoria St which Matrix’s managing director Sean Murrie says will probably be seven storeys tall.
He hoped to announce the project early next year, using a system developed by its modular system partner, Alto Australia.Murrie said modular construction for commercial buildings was a serious answer to many building boom problems.
‘‘While rising construction costs are not the only reason many construction projects aren’t proceeding, clearly there is a need for greater innovation that will result in a less costly, faster and better performing built environment.
‘‘Had developers adopted modular construction, we believe many of the cancelled Auckland projects could have been built.’’
Not only was the cost of modular construction cheaper but the build time was a fraction of an onsite build, taking weeks instead of months.
The new system uses steelframed load bearing modules, dispensing with the need for an independent structural frame. Murrie said the modules could be stacked like building blocks to create multi-storied buildings of up to 10 levels.
The bulk of the building takes place indoors so work can continue irrespective of the weather. Site work can take place at the same time.
Once the site is ready, the modules are trucked there, craned into position and bolted together. The fac¸ade and roofing is then attached and services connected.
Murrie said it only took two weeks to install the modules for a six-floor building and that the entire build could be completed in less than three months.
Multi-storey modular buildings had lower maintenance costs, and better seismic and acoustic performance, he said.
‘‘Our modular high rise system provides savings of up to 25 per cent over conventional building methods, produces less material waste and a safer work environment.’’ Matrix still builds tra- ditional standalone homes but Murri said multi-storey modular buildings were less of a hassle. ‘‘Each housing consent is hard fought – the territorial authorities are getting in the way of building affordable housing. We would prefer to focus on multi-storey modular where our efforts aren’t stymied at every turn.’’
Matrix Homes’ Sean Murrie at their modular building factory at the old General Motors site in Trentham.