London Inc. May 2024 - 8

Piece by piece
In the face of Canada's housing affordability crisis, modular
construction has emerged as a promising solution to provide
quality housing at a faster pace
everywhere you look, Canada is in the middle of a severe
housing affordability crisis, largely due to a supply shortage
that is difficult to address in a timely manner with traditional
subsidies and construction methods.
Today, homebuilding still relies predominantly on the
traditional, site-built construction process. However, the
on-site construction industry features growing productivity
challenges on a number of fronts, including labour challenges
and skyrocketing costs.
In Canada, an estimated 700,000 workers in the skilled
trades are expected to retire by 2028 and construction costs
have risen by 51 per cent in recent years. Policymakers are
challenged to build new infrastructure - and quickly - to
catch up to rising demand as the population grows and the
skilled labour force shrinks. In order to get anywhere near
the 5.8 million homes required over the next decade to close
the housing gap in Canada, innovative construction methods
need to be explored.
One area of increasing interest to both policymakers and
the home construction industry is modular construction - the
practice of fabricating building components, or " modules, "
in a factory-controlled environment. These modules can
range from building panel components (such as walls, floors
or roofs) and individual rooms to entire building sections and
finished homes, which are then transported to construction
8 | Signature Homes & Renovations | MAY 2024
sites for assembly or placement.
" Modular homes and other factory-built approaches,
including panelization, can play a significant role in increasing
the production capacity of construction for new homes in
several ways, " explains Sue Wastell, president of Londonbased
Wastell Homes and president of the Canadian Home
Builders' Association (CHBA). " The primary benefits are
speed of construction and the ability to increase output without
significantly more labour. Factory-built processes take less
time to complete overall, and this also means less time onsite,
including less disruption of construction for neighbours in
existing neighbourhoods. "
In February, the CHBA released its Sector Transition
Strategy detailing changes and supports needed to enable
the industry to meet new home targets. To do so, the CHBA
says there will need to be a fundamental shift in how new
homes are built in Canada.
" Depending on the level of automation and robotics in
a factory, [modular] construction time can be significantly
faster, " says Wastell. " The process of manufacturing new
homes offsite in whole or in part also offers reductions in the
timeline for construction by completing tasks concurrently
rather than linearly. For example, the foundation work, site
services and the actual house can be constructed at the same
time instead of one after the other. Further, factory-built
homes are also less impacted by weather both in terms of

London Inc. May 2024

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