Every now and then a business comes along that is doing something entirely new. Impresa House is one such business. Having sprung from a traditional building company launched about five years ago, Impresa is now pioneering the prefabricated building movement in Australia.
Their innovation was rewarded last night when they won the Manufacturing Hall of Fame Award for Defence, Transport and Construction Technologies. This is the first industry award that the growing company has won.
Industry and Employment Minister Wade Noonan said that the awards recognised that manufacturing in Victoria is “alive and well”.
“These award winners are the benchmark of innovation in advanced manufacturing – and Victoria has cemented its place as the country’s leader in this field,” he said.
One of only six companies in Australia producing prefabricated buildings, Impresa House joined Master Builders in 2014. It is the only Australian company manufacturing and installing prefabricated closed panel wall systems.
CEO Sean Morley spoke to Master Builders about how the system is not only more efficient than anything the Australian market has seen before, but also produces a better quality product. By using light weight timber framing, Impresa House can custom manufacture an entire dwelling within their Derrimut factory and then ship the component parts to site for assembly with the entire process saving more than 50 per cent on a build time. Impresa is in the process of completing its first build, a home in East Bentleigh.
“One of the things that we want to do in the industry is to raise the standard of build quality,” Mr Morley said.
“We are starting with the Impresa House Solution which optimises our build to the highest quality. Each and every structure that we build goes beyond the code requirements here in Victoria”.
“Our solutions come in at a slightly higher cost, but for that price you’re getting a premium product. With the time savings we are able to achieve there is a significant cost benefit as well, which once quantified should come it at the same if not slightly less expensive than a traditional build – but you are getting a superior quality product.”
Because the majority of the work is done within a factory with precision accuracy, most of the retrofitting and installation that would normally be coordinated on site can be undertaken simultaneously and therefore further improve efficiencies.
Mr Morley first approached Master Builders because he saw the benefits of becoming a member.
“Being relatively new to the industry, it was important that we stay on top of all the different trends and regulations happening throughout the industry,” Mr Morley said.
“We looked around and found that Master Builders with all of the history that they have and the benefits that they offer, was absolutely the right organisation for us to join,” he said.
“We’ve been really happy with the level of service that we’ve received, it’s been absolutely top level.”
Since joining Master Builders, Impresa have utilised and enquired about a range of products and services including OHS, Building Services and Training.
Perhaps one of the most unique ways that Master Builders has been able to help Impresa has been by arranging meetings with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to thrash out processes and regulations better suited to this innovative style of building.
“The entire team has been great in terms of lining up discussions with the VBA. It’s been an amazing help,” Mr Morley said.
“I firmly believe that if we weren’t Master Builders members and we didn’t have the assistance from Master Builders that one; it would be incredibly difficult to get access to these people and secondly, we wouldn’t even know who to contact.”
Master Builders has also lined up meetings with levels of government to explore social housing opportunities for Impresa.
The Building Services department at Master Builders has been instrumental in providing a customised system of inspection and permits for Impresa.
“Master Builders is actually helping to set up a standardised method of building inspection for us,” Mr Morley said.
“We see this as a really big plus because we’re not always going to be able to appoint a building surveyor and with Master Builders network throughout Victoria, having a standard way of inspecting means we don’t have to worry about any hiccups or hurdles. They know what to expect from our system and it makes the whole process that much easier.”
Similarly, Impresa’s OHS systems are unique. With both manufacturing and building sites, the need for solid OHS processes in the factory and onsite has been significant.
“Being a new manufacturer without experience doing this before it’s been very important that we stay ahead of the curve in terms of making sure we’re doing things correctly,” Mr Morley said.
“So it’s really helpful to have [Head of OHS] John Darcy come in to walk around, evaluate what we’re doing and make sure we’re on the right path getting things set up,” he said.
“It’s a different type of construction, so there are different elements to consider from a traditional build. John was really helpful in pointing out the certain areas that we need to improve and highlighting the potential risks that we need to address.”
Training, especially in the areas of sustainability, is also a real focus for Impresa. Mr Morley said that due to Impresa’s efficiencies, the company aimed to reduce waste to one per cent or less.
“In the manufacturing facility we are able to minimise our off cuts and re-purpose or recycle our waste products,” he said.
“And then on site, because so much of everything is already done in the factory we have very little waste and very little impact on the site.”
By day 21 of the Bentleigh East project there was only one full bin of waste on site.
“We’re going to be focused on not just the sustainability of the actual dwelling that we’re building, but the entire process from start to finish.”
Mr Morley said that he had also been in touch with the Green Living team at Master Builders so that they could provide guidance on sustainable building. Likewise Impresa has also identified training opportunities with the Building Leadership Simulation Centre.
In an ever changing, fast paced building and construction industry, Impresa House is a good example of a Master Builder getting the most out of their membership.