Principles for the adoption of offsite construction in design and construction companies
The United States presents the appropriate conditions for a wider adoption of offsite construction (OSC): steady growth in the construction industry, high construction wages, shortage of labors, and demand for housing – especially multifamily housing. The multifamily housing market is overheated, but many design and construction companies are still struggling to stay strong in this market, marked by tight profit margins, high competitiveness and inefficiencies. OSC presents itself as a solution to help design and construction companies to become more efficient and resilient to potential market crises. However, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is hesitant to move to higher levels of OSC adoption, mainly because stakeholders, including owners, developers, designers, and construction companies, are not aware of the potential benefits resulting from OSC and are not prepared to promote the changes necessary for the successful adoption of OSC or for the engagement in modular construction, which would represent an important move towards industrialized construction. This study focused on how to implement strategic changes in design and construction companies, particularly small and medium-size enterprises, interested in successfully using OSC in multifamily housing projects, considering the need for more affordable and sustainable multifamily housing in the United States. Using mixed methods, the study involved five phases of data collection and data analysis and had the contribution of professionals from the AEC industry. Focusing only on the AEC industry of the United States, the researcher first identified the main factors affecting the use of OSC in multifamily projects, as well as the most important changes that design and construction companies need to adopt for the successful use of OSC in multifamily projects. The factors and the changes helped to structure and shape the scope of the principles, which were later consolidated and validated through research with professionals from design and construction companies. The final set of eight principles was divided into four topics: (1) strategy and business model, (2) people, organization, and culture, (3) technology, materials, and tools, and (4) processes and operations. In addition to helping to shape more efficient and resilient construction companies, the application of the proposed principles contributes to building more affordable and sustainable housing in the United States.