Overcoming Barriers to Bringing Off-Site Construction to Scale

Ahmad Abu-Khalaf ,
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
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This white paper identifies opportunities and barriers to using prefabrication to expand the supply of affordable homes and address cost challenges. Our research focuses on four key elements: 1) Financing; 2) Design and Quality; 3) Regulations and Logistics; and 4) Construction Timeline and Cost. It offers key takeaways to facilitate a broad conversation among industry stakeholders on how these construction strategies can function effectively as part of the existing housing delivery system.

The concept of using off-site construction techniques as a tool to boost the cost-effectiveness and productivity of the housing delivery system has been recurring in the industry for decades. Many efforts have sought to demonstrate how off-site construction promises to be a silver bullet, solely able to address all cost- and productivity-related challenges in housing development. Writing from a policy-driven perspective focused on regulatory and financing systems, we aim to shift the conversation toward increasing understanding how off-site construction techniques can be incorporated within the existing housing delivery system. To that end, we explore:

  • where the use of off-site construction techniques can boost the creation of subsidized housing and create cost savings for market-rate developers, which can help expand the supply of homes and ultimately enable homeowners and tenants to benefit from these benefits by lowering their housing costs, and
  • what kinds of changes to the regulatory and financing systems could scale the use of off-site construction. 

We also identify the challenges that have long been constraining efforts to bring off-site construction techniques to scale and ways to overcome those challenges.

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