The Australian housing industry needs stronger leadership and regulation, many experts say. If not, then the industry and its inclusive buildings will suffer.
These problems stem from unproven building systems and fly by night construction companies. And more successful and reliable construction companies are being forced to slice costs and pass risks on to suppliers.
Some newer construction materials are not yet proving their resilience, which could affect insurance coverage, property values and even fitness of mission and purpose for occupants.
Building maintenance is posing yet another challenge, particularly in the residential industry—where more necessary maintenance means a far greater investment.
Indeed, deferred maintenance spending in public and private sector buildings is happening in places like schools and health care facilities. Eventually due maintenance must be performed, and both building quality and value can be greatly eroded.
Australians make major investments in residential buildings, and are experiencing elevated levels of household debt. Soon the country’s residential assets inventory may be challenged. And then there’s the issue of climate change, which also must be considered.
The creation of embodied carbon, and the use of operational carbon buildings, bears a sizable effect on the environment. By all rights, the construction industry should aim to reduce embodied energy in new buildings by 40 percent by the year 2030.
Yet in order to meet this aim, all construction professionals must make changes. Building designers, for instance, can no longer take an individualistic approach to cultivating and copyrighting their designs—keeping their ideas and materials offsite.
Onsite assembly is the wave of the future, as the recent Frame Australia Conference demonstrated. Promoting an integrated construction ecosystem, the presentations there indicate a need for smarter buildings; organised, resilient and sustainable from the time of their initial design.
This is only possible through the adoption of systematised building approaches.
These smarter buildings are constructed with a minum of waste and a maximum of manufactured quality. Assembled parts interconnect better, with improved tolerances. These result in enhanced thermal and sustainable performance.
Resilient, functional design is the wave of the future—and, as always, the government must lead the way. Collaboration must be emphasised over competition, with an end to finger pointing and blame placing, and low carbon, renewable materials like timber must take precedence across projects. Everyone must play their role and work together.
Also relevant is the use of digital technologies in design, as well as an emphasis on local economy and national interests.
Perhaps most importantly, all future design projects must be addressed with environmentalism and climate change in mind—as opposed to technological innovation that produces quickly made, splashily designed buildings. Compliance and accountability must be the order of the day, as should the creation of jobs and the increase of nationwide productivity. We have to do everything bigger and better—for ourselves, our country, and the environment.