How-to guide: Offsite manufacturing case study

Find out about some of the key elements of introducing offsite manufacturing to the build process, from start-ups to existing building companies.

Who can benefit from this guide

Construction businesses who are looking to enter the offsite manufacturing market, and in particular, those who are interested in volumetric modular construction methods. This includes new offsite manufacturing start-ups as well as existing ‘conventional’ building companies. 

Do your research

  • Investigate offsite manufacturing methods and techniques being used in New Zealand and overseas. Property Partners researched how offsite manufacturing was being used around the world, including China, the United States and Sweden.
  • Invest into research and development (R&D). Evergreen Modular (which emerged from Property Partners) has an R&D working group and monthly meetings which focus on reviewing lessons learnt and coming up with better ways to design, manufacture and deliver modular construction.
  • Keep up to date with new developments in the offsite manufacturing space, including innovations happening around design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) and building information modelling (BIM).
  • Research opportunities to integrate sustainability into your offsite manufacturing approach. One of the key attractions of offsite manufacturing is its ability to reduce the number of resources and carbon used in construction. After completing a lifecycle embodied carbon assessment for one of their projects, Evergreen Modular found that using New Zealand-sourced sustainable timber had resulted in significant environmental benefits. 

Learn from those already in the offsite manufacturing market

  • Connect with others in the offsite manufacturing industry. Property Partners did an international study tour to learn from some of the world’s best prefabricated house manufacturers, and ultimately decided that they wished to emulate the Swedish model. Their team travelled to Sweden, where they met with key people from one of the world’s leading manufacturers of machinery and systems for offsite manufacturing.
  • Where international travel is not feasible, consider opportunities to connect with experts online and/or connect with others in the New Zealand offsite manufacturing industry. To produce their first offsite manufactured model, Property Partners worked with design consultants and the offsite manufacturing processing team in Auckland Council. OffsiteNZ is a local organisation that promotes offsite manufacturing and will have some useful resources.
  • Build enduring professional connections. Property Partners continue to collaborate with the experts they met in Sweden. They have regular meetings with their Swedish mentors and continue to bounce ideas off them to keep learning and improving their offsite manufacturing approach. 

Start small before you scale up

  • Talk to your clients about opportunities to introduce offsite manufacturing on a project. You could consider trying offsite manufacturing on part of a project or part of a building. The earlier you have these conversations with your clients the better. For one of their early forays into offsite manufacturing, Property Partners offsite manufactured one of the buildings in a project while using traditional building methods for the rest of the buildings. All the buildings in the project were visually identical. This allowed them to do an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison of an offsite manufactured building against a conventionally built building.
  • Build your assets and resources over time. Equipment, machinery, software, land, and personnel can be accumulated at the pace that works for your company. For their first offsite manufacturing project, Property Partners leased an empty warehouse to manufacture the volumetric modules. Although the process was very manual since they did not yet have any manufacturing machinery, Property Partners used similar techniques to the ones they had learnt about in Sweden. After successfully completing that project, Property Partners decided to invest in a more permanent manufacturing facility. Since setting up the factory, they have gradually built their staff and assets.
  • Focus on refining your products, processes, software, and systems. Evergreen Modular has spent much of its efforts getting these things right to increase efficiency and create cost reductions. 

Build a strong team with the right mindset

  • When hiring new staff, look for people who are open to doing things differently. Evergreen Modular found that making buildings in a factory requires a manufacturing mindset. Those switching over from traditional building methods into offsite manufacturing are likely going to need to break some old habits and change how they think about the overall building and construction process. 

Useful links

Evergreen Modular(external link) -

OffsiteNZ(external link) -

Auckland Council – Modular components and buildings(external link) -