Choosing for prefab; Who is the final decision maker?

November 2016, we already investigated to what degree prefab was being used in the projects of architects.

Dirk Hoogenboom

Door Dirk Hoogenboom
2 feb 2017

November 2016, we already investigated to what degree prefab was being used in the projects of architects. In most countries the use of prefab is on the rise, after a slowdown during the crisis in Europe.

It’s very interesting to know to what extend the usage of prefab elements are being used, but equally interesting is to know who the final decision maker is when it’s decided that prefab is being used. Is it the architect, the principal or the contractor?

In the Q3 2016 Prefab report of the European Architectural Barometer (quarterly research amongst 1,600 architects in 8 countries) , we asked this question (among many others) to the architects.

This question delivered some interesting results, primarily having to do with the differences per country. Let’s start with the country with the highest usage of prefab elements, which is the Netherlands where in more than half of the projects of architects, prefab is being used (55%, ranging from single product prefab to 3D prefab).

In the Netherlands the principal is the final decision maker in about a third of the projects where prefab is being used, followed very closely by the architect (27%) and the general contractor (26%). This is in line with the fragmentation of decision making power in general (architects losing influence to contractors, engineering companies, principals etc in some area’s).

France is the country with the lowest usage of prefab elements. The demand for prefab from the principal is also among some of the lowest of all 8 countries investigated. Not surprisingly, here the principal is not the final decision maker in most cases. The architect (38%) and the general contractor (37%) have the strongest decision making power. The principal is a distant third. In Belgium the situation is similar, with architects being the final decision maker in almost half of the cases.

In Poland, the UK and Italy the principal has the strongest position when it comes to the final decision to go for prefab (63%, 58% and 64%).

In Germany and Spain both the principal and the architect have a high decision making power. Furthermore, in both countries the principal is most important, closely followed by the architect. However the very low percentage for general contractors is very interesting (1% and 3% respectively). Italy also has a low percentage of influence for the general contractors (2%). In all other countries this percentage is substantially higher.

This study is conducted in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland by Arch-Vision four times a year. The research covers the developments of architectural turnover, order volumes and the impact of the crisis. Besides these economic statistics, a specific topic is highlighted each quarter.

The full report covers much more (what kind of prefab elements, what areas of the building, split per segment and so on) in case of any questions feel free to contact me at