What’s better? Offsite or Onsite Construction? Plus find out if your home can be built offsite.

In this article, we look at the main differences between offsite and onsite building. It’s a big subject, and also fairly self-explanatory and we’ve had a look at some of the main pros and cons for each method.

As a company, we believe that offsite construction is the way of the future for residential homes in QLD and northern NSW. We believe that our clients can really benefit from an easy, hassle free & effortless method of building and still achieve the home they dream off.

So, read on to find out a bit more about offsite and onsite building, the pros and cons of each method and how to find out if you can build offsite.

First of all – what are the two methods?

Onsite Building

An onsite built home is the traditional method of constructing new homes. The home is built in-situ on the site starting from the foundations and finishing with the roof. All the raw materials and supplies are brought to the site, unloaded and installed as they are needed.

Offsite Building

The main feature of the offsite building method is that the majority of the work is completed offsite in a factory environment. All the raw materials are transported to one specific location, (usually a factory) and converted into a new home. Once the new offsite building is fully completed it is shifted from the factory to the final site location.

But doesn’t an offsite building still need to be installed onsite?

Yes, definitely it does! Every modular builder is different but at Westbuilt we work on the rough guide of 80% Offsite and 20% Onsite. The whole point of the offsite building is to minimise onsite work and improve the efficiency of the offsite process.

So, what are the pros and cons of each method?

Yes – each building method has definite pros and cons. And there are almost and an endless array of different methods in each category which again have their own pros and cons. But to keep it simple we’ve looked at the advantages and disadvantages of each building method generally.

This is in no way an exhaustive list – we’ve tried to stick to the main general points of each category!

Onsite Building Advantage

  • The flexibility of Design – you are able to build the home exactly how you want it. There are very few constraints on what you can build and quite honestly the sky, (and your boundaries) is the limit!
  • The flexibility of Style – just as you can modify the design of your home, you can modify the style or architectural look of your home. This is especially true in relation to roof pitch.
  • Volume – if you are building “off the plan” then there are considerable cost savings as large onsite builders have massive scalability!

The main Onsite building disadvantages

  • Timeframe – an onsite building is generally slow and ponderous.
  • Quality – the onsite building method is inherently disjointed. Quality issues tend to multiply quickly as it’s very difficult for builders to manage multiple building in multiple locations. Issues get out of hand quickly if the builder isn’t on-top as they present themselves.
  • Lack of control – an offsite built home is inherently hard to manage. Generally, each builder will employ different subcontractors and trades across different jobs. As most builders can’t be at every job site every day it’s just very hard to see if a project is going slow or a ready hasn’t turned up. This means that you end up with a much slower build time and quality issues can drop up and not be noticed till it’s too late.
  • Communication – again this can present a real problem unless managed properly by good builders. The other issue is unless you have a good builders mistakes made on buildings might not be learnt by other trades as communication between trades and job-sites is difficult.
  • The Weather – due to the method of building rainy days can really present a nightmare. A new home build can be delayed by weeks from a simple rainy day as all trades have to be re-scheduled and the whole job re-organised.
  • Onsite Mud & Mess – Yep, we can put it down to the weather, but a rainy day can turn a really efficient and tidy site into a nightmare in one fell swoop. Let alone the mud being trudged through your new home and muddy tire tracks up and down the street.

Relocatable Home in development

Offsite Building Advantages

  • Alternative designs and building methods – one of the main advantages for offsite builds is when a client is looking to custom design a building. As the home is constructed in a single location from modules, like Lego, the cost doesn’t necessarily go through the roof when you custom design!
  • Timeframe – due to the highly efficient nature of the factory environments maximum time savings can be achieved. This ensures that as much wait time and wasted time is eliminated and quality value adding time is only spent on the job.
  • Quality – again, this is really a carry-over from the above points. Mistakes or defects picked up can be rectified quickly. It is a lot easier to communicate design or methodology changes to the workforce as the main management team is always in the same location.
  • Fewer Waste Materials – due to the factory environment waste materials are handled a lot easier.
  • Due to the way offsite homes are built all the details need to be ironed out BEFORE the job starts. This, in turn, leads to a lot of efficiencies and no variations.

Offsite Building Disadvantages

  • Less flexibility of design – Each offsite built home is normally constructed using a strict process in a factory. The main method used in QLD and NSW for offsite homes is to construct the home in sections. Due to transportation constraints, this does limit module size and needless to say, the more modules the more expensive.
  • No Concrete Slab and Bricks – if you’re looking for a home that is on the ground on a concrete slab we’re sorry to say that there isn’t really any main-stream options for offsite building in this regard.
  • Transportation Limitations – access and transport regulations can limit the availability of offsite homes. Check out our article on this here.

So, what’s better?

We’re going to leave that up to you! Of course, we say offsite!!!! All the same, it really depends on the client’s priorities, the design, and the site and your budget. In many cases an onsite built home is really the only way to go and our design consultants will make sure you are aware of this.

When On-site is better:

  • New estates in built-up areas
  • Homes that have been designed purely to be built onsite.
  • Areas with covenants on brick and tile
  • If you require a slab and a brick façade.

When offsite is better:

  • Acreage blocks and in established built up areas
  • Contemporary or QLDer façade style
  • Narrow frontage sites
  • Steep sites

How do I find out if my project can be built offsite?

 Take a look at your project and ask yourself the following questions. If you can answer YES to at least 3 of them then offsite building potentially could be an option for you.

  1. Is your design flexible? (I.E. Can it be modified to suit modules?)
  2. The home, or part of it, can to be built off the ground?
  3. Is the new home site sloping?
  4. I want my building project to be quick and easy for me?

Now, simply fill in the below form to have one of our design consultants go over your project with you and investigate if the project could potentially be constructed offsite.

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If you have your own vision for your house, we are happy to work with you to design the perfect layout that is tailored just for you.


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