A Modular Mindset

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-By Aleisha Parr

While traditional in-situ builders of course have a corner on the residential building market throughout urban WA, modular builders are quickly becoming the builders of choice for commercial giants, especially within the mining industry where major communities need to be constructed in remote areas – and need to be constructed right now. McGrath Homes, a solely modular building company operating out of Perth and owned by industry leader Nomad Building Solutions Limited, is feeling the rush of industry as the mining boom in WA continues to demand quality homes for its constantly expanding workforce.

McGrath is known throughout Western Australia for its quality builds and excellent customer service, having operated within the industry for over forty years and three generations as a privately owned, family business before being purchased in 2008 by the publically listed Nomad. Its units, which are designed for two markets, residential and commercial, include every luxury a traditional in-situ unit would have, with an equal or better level of safety and a minimum six star energy rating. This is especially important for McGrath Homes, as many of its units are purchased to be situated in cyclonic regions, which require the strictest safety standards and speciality designs.

This area is actually one of great interest to McGrath Homes, with new work currently underway for the design and production of two and three storey designs which are also constructed to withstand intense environmental pressure such as cyclones deliver. Business Development Manager Mr Youel says, “We are at the build stage now of putting together our two and three storey designs. They have all been engineered and we are starting construction on prototypes and hoping to go to market with them early in 2012. The flexibility that comes with our designs enables us to offer them not only in homes, but we’re currently doing design and construct contracts for everything through from churches to offices and more.”

Despite all of this, modular building is still not widely preferred within the private residential sector, primarily due to the misconceptions surrounding the look and feel of a modular built home compared to a traditional brick and mortar one. Many families are concerned that the homes will have a sterile or cold feeling, but Business Development Manager, Dominic Youel, says that he is consistently impressed with how beautiful these units are and also how many high end finishes and features they can include. Says Mr Youel, “When I speak to people in regional areas throughout the state it’s about our reputation – people are eager to come up and talk to you about their experiences with McGrath Homes over the years. On a number of occasions I’ve had people come up and say “˜this is our second or third house that we’re building with you and now our daughter or son is building through you.’ The reputation McGrath has out there is quite solid and I believe that really does set us apart from the other modular builders.”

The feature of McGrath built modular homes which is most impressive, however, is not found in its glamorous kitchens, en-suite laundries or even its home media rooms, but rather, in its timelines. While a typical build time for an in-situ builder can take on average thirty-six weeks (ABS Average Quarterly Completion Times in New Houses), a modular home can be built, from contract order to delivery and installation on site, in only twelve weeks. “They’re an amazing build,” boasts Mr Youel, “the quality is exceptional. And then on top of that, to have them put together in the time frame of twelve to fourteen weeks, they’re just ideally suited for supply contracts for the resource industry.”

Furthermore, these units are constructed through McGrath’s three permanent construction facilities located throughout Perth, employing the dedicated expertise of its own build and installation teams – thereby ensuring a reliable standard of quality.

This distinction is what makes modular units so desirable for large mining and resource industry companies, looking to establish entire small communities in many remote locations in order to both save on budget and also to increase worker satisfaction throughout a mining contract. By establishing a small community, filled with designer modular homes by McGrath as well as necessary commercial units to help support the community, workers in such remote areas are better able to relax and feel a strong sense of comfort and quality of life while away from home. Increased worker satisfaction, as we all know, leads to increased work performance, thereby making McGrath modular homes an easy choice for large resource and mining companies.

In perfect complement to this is McGrath’s own workplace culture, which finds its source in Nomad’s own approach to industry relationships. While the company maintains a conservative approach, it is also a place where young and talented workers are bringing in fresh ideas and new insight. At the moment, this attitude is driving the company through a series of forecasting and feasibility studies with a number of large businesses, working to create plans for the 2012 year. Mr Youel says there are a large number of projects ready to take off by the middle of next year, and that he hopes it will be through the efforts of McGrath Homes.

“We get involved in a lot of feasibility studies and we are fairly confident of the groundwork that we have laid through the relationships that both McGrath and Nomad has. The senior management team of Nomad Building Solutions is committed to maintaining and building on its extensive network of relationships that exist throughout the state’s mining and resources sector. We believe this is the best approach and that it will pay dividends as activity increase through 2012.”

It is this dynamic approach that makes the company so effective as it moves into this next phase of heightened building activity, bringing to the market not only exceptional quality-for-cost commercial and residential units, but all the comforts of home while away.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

June 1, 2020, 5:19 AM AEST