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Principals in construction projects are not strongly driving prefab usage yet

Within the construction industry there is a tendency towards the usage of prefabricated elements within construction projects. One of the key drivers for the usage of prefabricated elements is the current shortage of skilled labor in the construction markets. But generally speaking there is a need for industrialization. Not only because of a shortage of skilled labor, but also due to the fact that the market is demanding for better, smarter and cheaper solutions in order to keep up with the demand for affordable housing. It is therefore interesting to see that architects do not clearly see a very strong demand for prefabricated solutions from their principals yet. The shift towards prefab construction comes from the industry itself as there is no strong demand, nor are many principals willing to invest in it. This is one of the key findings about the current status of prefab in construction. In the European Architectural Barometer USP Marketing Consultancy has asked 1,400 architects in eight European countries on their expectation regarding the development of prefab in construction.

Differences per country

When it comes to the demand for prefab elements by principals, some interesting results were found and differences are seen per country. The Netherlands is one of the leading countries when looking at the number of projects in which architects already see prefabricated elements used. The penetration of prefab within projects is high, but the motivation to use prefabricated elements comes from architects and contractors working on these projects and not particularly from their principals. There is no strong demand yet, and only a small share of architects experience a willingness to invest in the use of prefabricated elements.   

In other countries this is slightly different. In Germany a larger share of architects indicate that their principals are already asking for prefab construction in projects. Approximately a third also see that there is a willingness to invest in it. Other countries where large shares of architects already see a positive attitude are Belgium and Italy. Although at this moment the penetration of prefab in projects is still relatively low, especially in Italy, it could be expected that this will grow in the coming years as principals are asking for it and enforcing the market to think about prefab solutions.  

Regardless what drives prefab, increase is expected

Whether or not there is a demand for the usage of prefabricated elements by principals such as investment companies and project developers, it is out of discussion that prefabrication will continue to rise in the construction industry. In all countries a substantial share of architects expect a (strong) increase of prefab within the next three years.