Industrial building system receives mixed response

  • Business
  • Saturday, 18 Sep 2010

JOHOR BARU: A labour shortage in the construction industry has led to the industrial building system (IBS) gaining popularity and acceptance in Johor.

However, developers opine that the IBS may only be suitable in the building of affordable homes as buyers of higher end homes would demand more unique designs.

Leisure Farm Corp Sdn Bhd senior project manager Siew Fook Wah said although IBS was not widely used in Malaysia, between 30% and 40% of structures in housing projects were already made based on the method.

“IBS works better on per case basis especially for developers building affordable homes in big numbers, not for the high-end landed properties,” he told StarBizWeek.

The IBS is a system under which construction materials and parts are pre-fabricated in factories and not in situ by labourers, which is the usual practice.

Liew said the affordable properties segment encompassed units priced from RM90,000 to RM200,000 each, and with each project phase having at least 300 to 400 units.

He said IBS worked well for houses with minimalist designs and styles where the elements could be repeated for future launches and developers wanted to speed up the construction of the houses.

A subsidiary of Mulpha International Bhd, Leisure Farm is developing the RM2.1bil Leisure Farm Resort on 714.27ha in Gelang Patah. The residential and gated resort development project offers 11 architectural design themes.

The villas are built on lots of 3,000 to18,000 sq ft and priced from RM2mil. The scheme is now home to international communities from 35 countries.

“We believe buyers who are willing to pay RM1mil will not be happy if their houses are constructed based on the IBS and they may feel they are being short-changed by developers,” said Liew.

Tanah Sutera Development Sdn Bhd deputy general manager Koh Moo Hing said local developers were not fully ready to implement the IBS in their projects.

He said although the construction sector had been facing a labour shortage in recent years, developers could still hire labourers despite completing some projects behind schedule.

Koh said the situation was different in developed economies such as Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA where the developers had little choice but to adopt the IBS due to high labour and building materials costs.

“When local developers reach a critical stage in hiring labourers plus escalating prices of building materials, they have to follow suit,” he said.

Tanah Sutera Development is a consortium of local and Singapore-based companies – Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera, CapitaLand, Keppel Land and Lee Rubber Co (Pte) Ltd.

Its housing projects here – Taman Sutera and Taman Sutera Utama – offer high-end houses from RM300,000 to RM1mil . It also owns the Sutera Mall shopping complex.

Mahabuilders Bhd group chairman Mustapha Hassan said the company had implemented the IBS for years to revive abandoned property projects in Johor.

It is among the few developers in the country specialising in acquiring and reviving abandoned projects.

The company’s revived projects in Johor include Taman Baiduri Johor Baru, Skudai Villa, Seri Mengkuang in Gelang Patah, Indera Wangsa Larkin, Senai industrial park and Pandan City Johor Baru.

“Speed is important when reviving any abandoned housing projects especially those comprising low- and medium-cost houses and this is where the IBS comes into picture,” Mustapha said.

He said developers involved in building public houses in schemes with more than 500 units, especially for the low-income earners and the resettlement of squatters, would find the system handy.

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