Development of a framework for quality assurance of off-site manufactured building components: A case study of the New Zealand housing sector

A shortage of housing is a prominent issue across the globe. Traditional on-site construction methods seem too inefficient to meet the increasing housing demand. As a solution, many countries, including the United States, Germany, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, have introduced off-site manufacturing methods to increase the housing supply. Different from the traditional way of on-site construction, off-site manufacturing is a technique that involves manufacturing building components in a controlled environment. Despite strong government support and industry attempts to increase off-site manufacturing, the current building consenting and inspection processes in New Zealand have significant quality-related issues. Therefore, this study aimed to identify the gaps in current quality assurance processes used in off-site manufacturing and recommend a framework in order to gain credibility and the acceptance of the construction market. The study collected qualitative data from industry experts (e.g., developers, architects, engineers, project managers, quantity surveyors, head contractors and council officers) who had significant experience in current quality assurance regimes in New Zealand prefabrication construction. The key themes for designing the proposed framework were generated using content analysis of the primary data collected from semi-structured interviews with industry experts. The study has found that standardisation in off-shore products regarding the New Zealand Building Code remains the biggest challenge in the consenting process. Quality assurance and inspection test plans are the developer's responsibility and are typically provided by third-party inspectors. In this post-Covid-19 world-building, consent authorities rely heavily on third-party inspection companies that apply more rigorous auditing. Essentially, the most important parts of quality assurance are to have an experienced team and to adopt a holistic approach by engaging stakeholders early in the design stage. The stakeholders should consider recommendations for mandatory after-service insurance to ensure end-customer interests are protected. The findings of this study can contribute to the early engagement of different stakeholders to ensure overseas manufacturing of building components meets New Zealand quality standards. It is expected that the new quality assurance framework would help to promote off-site manufacturing for the New Zealand housing sector.
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 2022, 1101