Modular Construction Helps Bushfire-affected Communities Rebuild

Prefab home installed on steep hill in Australia

Above: Wye River project by Modscape: the home that survived a bushfire.

During Australia’s recent ‘black summer’, fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares and destroyed close to 6,000 buildings. The toll on human and animal life was devastating, and communities, businesses and individuals were left wondering how to rebuild in the wake of such devastation.

Following the necessary land and debris clearing, many are ready to begin the long process of building their lives back up again. However, with so many building projects slated – many in remote and difficult areas and in communities that have limited amounts of man power – the question of how to respond in a timely fashion with high quality projects at a low price has become the central focus.

Unsurprisingly, many have turned to modular construction to expedite the process and for the benefits it can bring to bushfire prone areas.

Bushfire Attack Level rating

In response to the number of severe bushfires Australia experiences, the building standards for bushfire prone areas are captured in what is called a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL). Comprised of six different ratings, BALs measure a building’s ability to cope with ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact.

In bushfire prone areas, landowners are being asked to build to the second lowest standard as a minimum. However, based on previous experience, many are opting to build to much higher ratings. Modular options have easily allowed bushfire-affected communities to reach these optimum BAL levels, even when using timber as the main material.

Remote access

In rural areas, many homeowners despair that in-demand builders will be hard to source, or too expensive due to the travel required. Often remote towns don’t have local builders or individuals can’t contend with the attractive wages being paid by larger projects undertaken at the same time. Rebuilding hospitals, aged care facilities and community buildings will often absorb all the local talent, leaving individual homeowners with few to no local resources.

Modular construction’s ability to be built off site makes it a cost-effective choice, even if the company isn’t located locally. With only two site visits required – one for an initial assessment and one to install the finished product – travel costs are minimal.

In addition, modular construction is fast, allowing families to get back into their own homes quicker. Modscape’s homes are built in a factory off-site – allowing more than one project to be built at a time, and leaving teams unaffected by usual weather delays. The finished product typically takes only 12 weeks to be produced and one day to install, with onsite works being completed 3-4 weeks thereafter. For communities that have multiple homes and buildings needing to be rebuilt, this can prove a godsend and can have whole townships back on their feet in no time.

Speed, coupled with quality

When we think of something being done quickly – or at least much faster than we are accustomed to – we often worry that the quality may not be to the same standard. This is actually the opposite of what takes place with modular construction. With the benefit of factory conditions, quality assured construction and highly experienced teams working to detailed plans, modular construction is adept at creating high-quality, aesthetically appealing structures.

A sustainable solution

Modscape’s modular buildings are also sustainable. Designed to follow passive design principles, its prefabricated structures form an airtight envelope that can be opened to the environment in mild conditions or sealed tightly in adverse conditions. For families and businesses looking to save money across a building’s life cycle, but still require the highest levels of comfort, such energy efficiency is paramount.

As Modscape’s building materials are sustainably sourced, stored safely and measured exactly, the company’s modular construction is known for its ultra-low waste and minimal impact on the environment – another tick for communities that realise how much of a precious resource the environment is.

If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read more about modular design’s response to bushfires: