To prefabricate or not? A method for evaluating the impact of prefabrication in building construction

Krishna Chauhan (Corresponding Author), Antti Peltokorpi, Rita Lavikka, Olli Seppänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Prefabricated products are continually entering the building construction market; yet, the decision to use prefabricated products in a construction project is based mostly on personal preferences and the evaluation of direct costs. Researchers and practitioners have debated appropriate measurement systems for evaluating the impacts of prefabricated products and for comparing them with conventional on-site construction practices. The more advanced, cost–benefit approach to evaluating prefabricated products often inspires controversy because it may generate inaccurate results when converting non-monetary effects into costs. As prefabrication may affect multiple organisations and product subsystems, the method used to decide on production methods should consider multiple direct and indirect impacts, including nonmonetary ones. Thus, this study aims to develop a multi-criteria method to evaluate both the monetary and non-monetary impacts of prefabrication solutions to facilitate decision-making on whether to use prefabricated products. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing upon a literature review, this research suggests a multi-criteria method that combines the choosing-by-advantage approach with a cost–benefit analysis. The method was presented for validation in focus group discussions and tested in a case involving a prefabricated bathroom. Findings: The analysis indicates that the method helps a project’s stakeholders communicate about the relative merits of prefabrication and conventional construction while facilitating the final decision of whether to use prefabrication. Originality/value: This research contributes a method of evaluating the monetary and non-monetary impacts of prefabricated products. The research underlines the need to evaluate the diverse benefits and sacrifices that stakeholder face when considering production methods in construction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Innovation
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Choosing-by-advantage (CBA)
  • Cost–benefit analysis
  • Multi-criteria decision-making method (MCDM)
  • On-site construction
  • Prefabrication

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