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Prefab bathrooms reduce manpower, construction time by 60%: BCA

Singapore's Building and Construction Authority plans to expose more industry players through overseas learning to observe productive building methods at work.

SINGAPORE: Projects built on seven out of nine Government Land Sale sites released for sale in the second half of this year will require the use of prefabricated bathrooms in projects. They include sites located in Tampines Road, Anchorvale Crescent and Holland Road.

The other sites are at Woodlands Avenue 12, Jurong West Street 41, Yishun Avenue 4 and Paya Lebar Road/Sims Avenue. Earlier this year, the Government announced that the use of more productive construction methods will be a mandatory condition in awarding tenders for certain projects.

Location next to the River Thames, Riverlight is a high-end residential project close to central London. While many may think that a property of this nature demands bespoke units hand-built on site, the luxurious development actually uses prefabricated bathrooms mass-produced by Italy's Bathsystem.

Singapore's Building and Construction Authority (BCA) estimates that the use of pre-made bathrooms can save projects about 60 per cent in manpower and construction time. And through overseas learning trips, BCA plans to expose more industry players to similar projects to observe productive building methods at work.

Singapore firm Straits Construction is already bringing in Bathsystem's mode of prefabrication to the Republic.

"Bathsystem's product has already been proven in the European market. Of course, there are some localisation processes that we need to go through," said Kenneth Loo, executive director at Straits Construction. "In fact, prefabricated bathrooms have already been used in Singapore so it's nothing new to that extent."

Bathrooms aside, Cross Laminated Timber is another mode of prefabrication being made mandatory for selected Government Land Sale sites. Authorities estimate that the process can save projects up to 35 per cent in manpower and construction time. Seminars and workshops will be rolled out to educate stakeholders about such productive construction methods.

Ang Lian Aik, group director of Construction Productivity Centre of BCA, said: "We are cautious and we are mindful that these are new technology. We have to build up the eco-systems right - the supply side, the design sides, the builders. All these have to be ready so for the next few years, we will still be adopting a more measured approach."

While Europe has been using productive construction methods for years, Singapore is just beginning to figure out how those methods can be utilised in the local context. The journey to building in a smarter way will require close cooperation across the entire construction value chain and it will take some time before the process becomes a well-oiled machine.

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