Interview: Robbie Antonio
How do you expect the production of housing to evolve in the near future?
ROBBIE ANTONIO: The pressing need for easy-to-build, affordable housing and increased competition in the real estate industry will continue to incentivise companies to improve their systems and operations. They will most likely centre their innovation on streamlining production. In the future I think the development of prefabricated housing will focus on the reduction of cost and manpower.
The production of prefabricated homes involves technology and methods that differ from those used in traditional homebuilding. Prefabricated materials include light gauge steel; precast concrete; sandwich panels; concrete-filled prefabricated walls; and autoclaved, aerated concrete blocks. After the completion of a building’s structure, companies begin to incorporate technological innovation; they are adapting smart home systems to deliver a new level of security and convenience. These systems are now regularly used by large hotel chains, and we expect them to be utilised by the general populace in the near future.
In what ways can technology help address the affordable housing shortage, and what should be done to facilitate its development?
ANTONIO: The Philippines faces a housing backlog that affects 5.7m people, which means that there is a need for affordable and high-quality housing. Despite the urgency of this issue, the current level of construction at the national level is insufficient to cover even 10% of the deficit in the near future. Technology will play a major role in helping mitigate this challenge. New technology will make it possible to minimise construction time and make quality more affordable, which will be especially beneficial for the middle- and low-income segments. Additionally, technology will be crucial in helping rapidly rebuild any residential houses affected by natural disasters.
The private sector is already investing in the development of new technologies, but requires support from the administration in terms of education, with respect to qualified engineers, and funding. We have access to financing from banks, but some development projects are not financially viable if interest rates are high. In such cases the administration should offer tax incentives and partial financing. Indeed, this would help not only construction companies, but also many individuals in the Philippines who require soft credit and flexible payment terms to be able to purchase a house.
What would be the impact of prefabricated homes on a sector susceptible to property bubbles and characterised by price increases?
ANTONIO: Real estate is a constant in the lives of consumers. Though the sector experiences cycles and price bubbles, this is where the benefits of prefabricated homes become more apparent. First, production costs for prefabricated homes are lower than those of traditional residential developments, which relieves pressure to some extent. Additionally, due to streamlined processes, the production timeline for a prefabricated home is between two and three months, which allows investors to recover their investment and expenses much earlier. Prefabricated houses are ideal in urban centres in the Philippines, which experience a significant backlog of affordable housing. They can serve as buffers against sudden spikes in the price of real estate in developing countries and in major cities.
Prefabrication technology can also be applied to the development of buildings other than housing. For example, we are exploring the possibility of constructing prefabricated schools, clinics and offices. As appreciation of prefabricated structures increases, we expect demand for these products to grow, not only in the Philippines but across the globe.
You have reached the limit of premium articles you can view for free.
Choose from the options below to purchase print or digital editions of our Reports. You can also purchase a website subscription giving you unlimited access to all of our Reports online for 12 months.
If you have already purchased this Report or have a website subscription, please login to continue.