Is This the Future of Housing in Perth?

Recently, the future of property investment and housing in Perth may have seen the beginning of a new direction that changes the market forever.

A modular, “Lego-style” apartment building consisting of 77 homes filling up six storeys was completed in ten days. According to Housing Minister Bill Marmion, the complex provides “a glimpse into the future” for housing.

The building that utilised the new construction method is the Adara Apartment building, which is considered to be the third stage in a Department of Housing project near the Cockburn Central train station, called Stella Village.

Minister Marmion says that the new, factory fabricated, modular housing can cut construction time in half, but we think he was being pessimistic. The modules go together a lot like Legos and weigh 22 tonnes each. They measure 16 metres x 4.5 metres and can be erected or pieced together at the rate of 15 per day. The modular buildings are said to cost less than standard buildings and are said to be 30% more energy efficient.

The base price of the apartments is currently $330,000. They are available in one and two-bedroom models, both costing the same and having the same overall dimensions. They are part of WA’s “Affordable Housing Strategy.”

Minister Marmion is happy with the results and feels that modular housing is important for Perth and for the Affordable Housing Strategy. According to Minister Marmion, the modular homes are perfect for “urban infill and higher density projects,” designed to make more affordable housing available in Perth.

We are Guardedly Optimistic

On the outside, the apartments look great. They don’t look like a shed or a box. They don’t look like a bunch of mobile homes stacked on top of each other. We haven’t been inside of one yet, but the pictures look very nice. So we are assuming that the modular homes won’t be an eyesore and won’t blow away during a heavy storm.

So, they are attractive and safe. But are they durable? Will a modular apartment building stand for over 100 years like many bricks and mortar buildings have, or will they fall apart like they were built of Legos in twenty years? Forty years? Fifty years?

We like to think that the buildings will be as strong and as structurally sound as a bricks and mortar building and stand for as long as bricks and mortar would. But the truth is that we don’t really know yet because the technology is too new.

What if it Works?

If modular housing works, it could, indeed, change the way business is done. Homes will be built far quicker and hopefully with economies of scale the cost can be reduced. Those who are doing higher density development are set to benefit over the short term and pave the way for more wide spread use. The modular concept will work for standard apartment buildings, but it will also work for villas and townhouses.

Potential Sticking Points

If I am too address the elephant in the room, the major sticking point with seeing this building method more widely adopted is public perception. We have always been pretty backward that the other states around Australia which have used many alternatives to double brick for a long time.

Modular homes could take jobs away from the construction industry and so naturally they will do their best to keep promoting the merits of double brick but the ultimate choice comes down to the consumer. When 8-12 month building times are no longer perceived as being worth the wait, there will be greater demand for alternatives. I know I am there!

We Will be Watching

At Investors Edge, we make it a high priority to keep up on everything that has anything to do with property investment, especially in Perth. The new modular style housing could become the most popular trend in Australia within a few years. Then again, it could be looked down upon as “inferior” housing and add to the stigma often associated with “Affordable Housing”.

I think modular housing is going to become very popular. If and when it does, we will be there to help guide you through the property investment process and manage your properties. For any questions, please call Investors Edge Real Estate: 1300 472 427.

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