Marginal productivity gained through prefabrication: Case studies of building projects in Auckland

Wajiha Shahzad*, Jasper Mbachu, Niluka Domingo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Several studies have documented benefits of prefabrication system (prefab) compared to the traditional building system (TBS). However, the documented benefits have been anecdotal or fragmented with reports of isolated case study projects. Few studies have looked at the objectively quantified benefits from statistical significance point of view and across building types in New Zealand. This study contributes to filling this knowledge gap by analyzing cost and time-savings, and productivity improvement achievable by the use of prefab in place of the TBS. Records of completion times and final contract values of 66 building projects implemented using prefab in Auckland were collected. The building types included commercial, houses, apartments, educational, and community buildings. The project details included final contract sums, completion dates, gross floor areas, and number of floors. Based on these details, the equivalent completion times and the final cost estimates for similar buildings implemented using the TBS were obtained from the Rawlinsons construction data handbook and feedback from some designers and contractors. Marginal productivity outcome for each building project was computed as the product of the cost and time-savings achieved using the prefab. Results showed that the use of prefab in place of TBS resulted in 34% and 19% average reductions in the completion times and costs, respectively. This also translated to overall 7% average improvement in the productivity outcomes in the building projects. Univariate ANOVA-based hypothesis test results showed that 'building type' had no significant effects on the cost and productivity improvement outcomes, but had significant effect on the time savings analyzed in the case study projects. The greatest productivity gain of 11% was achieved in house projects. These evidence-based results could guide optimized use of prefab for specific building application. The hypothesis-testing outcome provides insights on one of several potential influences on prefab improvements, which will be analyzed in subsequent research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-208
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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