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An Alternative to Traditional Construction: Prefab housing

Is there a faster and cheaper way to build a home? Typically, it would take several months for a house to be completed (depending on the design and specifications of the homeowner). But to answer the question, there is. Prefabricated or prefab housing addresses those concerns.


As the name suggests, this is a type of construction where the components of the house are already made or fabricated. They just have to be assembled on-site like a puzzle. Since the components are already prefabricated, construction time is shorter.

Prefab construction has several advantages.


It is cheaper though the cost may depend on the design specifications with the cheaper ones ranging between P90,000 and P600,000.


Alezandra Cruz, business development officer for Smarthouse Corp., considered the leader in prefab construction, said it is not only cheaper in terms of materials, it also costs less with regard to labor as it involves fewer workers.


There is no need for reinforcing or the tedious process of laying down hollow blocks, applying cement and working with wood — cutting and hammering. The smallest prefab house can be completed in a matter of hours.


Although it is inexpensive, various materials are used and are of the finest quality, depending on the company and the choice of the homeowner, as well as being sustainable or environment-friendly. Some use engineered bamboo while others use styrofoam sandwiched between galvanized iron that is treated to make them resistant to corrosion.


It can be built anywhere. Prefab houses can be put up anywhere the owner chooses. It is also faster since there is no need to dig on the ground to provide a foundation. Being modular or collapsible, they can be dismantled and reassembled at a new location although the flooring may be changed. They also have provisions for electricity and plumbing.


One other advantage prefab construction has is less waste from materials used. There is no leftover wood, sand and gravel; no traces of cement. The surrounding area is relatively clean.


Furthermore, prefab construction companies assure that although it is cheap, prefab houses are built in accordance with the standards set by existing laws, most particularly the National Building Code.


Given that the Philippines is prone to natural disasters, prefab houses are designed to withstand the strongest earthquake or typhoon. In the Philippine setting, prefab houses are a modern version of the bahay kubo (nipa hut) found in rural areas and built similarly using indigenous materials.


Shipping containers often serve as a model for prefab housing due to its simple design. Architects draw inspiration from these and are able to design prefab houses based on the shape and size of shipping containers, making it more attractive in accordance to the wishes of the homeowner-client.


Prefab housing in the Philippines is catching on and this is underscored by the numerous clients that the construction companies are getting.


"We have a lot of existing and interested clients who are new to this kind of construction. Most of our clients are construction companies, government agencies, health agencies, businesses like food manufacturing, cosmetic companies, etc. Individuals who are in need of low cost but best quality residential and commercial structures," said Cruz.


Besides houses, prefab construction also focuses on business structures such as offices and warehouses. During the Covid-19 pandemic, their services were tapped when they built quarantine facilities to house Covid-positive patients. All these were done in such a short span of time given that the need is urgent and the companies delivered.


All in all, prefab structures have proven their worth along with being more affordable. It may no longer come as a surprise if more and more Filipinos will like to have their homes built in this manner.


Source: Manila Times

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