BUYING a home before the housing project is complete can be risky business.
Before we even think about laying down tens of thousands of dollars in deposits, it’s only common to practice a decent amount of due diligence and ask the right questions; is the developer reliable? is the location strategic? will I get good returns on investments? and so on.
And then there is the flourishing housing market, filled with real estates advertised by companies that are both reputable and ones that are relatively obscure. With offers that are at times to good to be true, the search for the right home can be rather problematic.
In Malaysia alone, the government estimates at least 150 housing development projects that are abandoned, leaving thousands of homebuyers in limbo after taking on hundreds in thousands of dollars in loans. Some are even trapped in paying mortgages for years on end when their housing investments never really got off the ground.
Having that in mind, how then would we know what to look for in developers? One of the best ways is to see whether or not these companies make homes with the Industrialised Building System (IBS) method.
But what is IBS?
Also known as prefabrication, IBS involves the manufacturing of housing components off-site to be ready for installation.
It’s a common term in Malaysian construction whereby landmark buildings such as the Petronas Twin Towers and much of the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya, were built with pre-fabricated components.
According to Malaysia’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), developers and contractors that use the IBS system can save time and money in a time of great demand for cheap and effective construction.
When the components are produced off-site, the houses require little additional site work once installed.
“Not only can IBS shorten the construction period, but also cut costs on building materials and manpower, especially during this period of labour shortage,” Ahmad ‘Asri bin Abdul Hamid, CEO of CIDB Malaysia, said in a publication produced by the board.
How would home buyers benefit from IBS?
Projects that use the IBS are completed faster than other developments, which means greater productivity, less waste, fewer accidents and lower overall construction costs for the industry, according to CIDB.
“Because components are custom built to exact requirements in a controlled, factory environment, quality can be closely monitored.”
This is good news for the investor or home buyer as he or she has better assurance of the project’s completion as well as the quality and durability of the homes.
Another major developer Gamuda Berhad, which had a big hand in building Kuala Lumpur’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail system, had been using its widescale IBS production line since 2016.
Its IBS factory in Sepang, some 40 minutes south of the capital makes solid walls, half slabs, staircases, toilet pans, columns, beams, as well as special architectural elements.
According to the Star, the production line allows it to raise the overall quality of the buildings by optimising the use of resources such as cement, sand and steel. Additionally, the system means less reliance on foreign labour in the contruction sector and the completion of the projects ahead of schedule.
Tan Ek Khai, Gamuda Industrial Building System Sdn Bhd (Gamuda IBS) general manager, says the company’s use of a sophisticated IBS is a major contributing factor to the ability for it to meet the timeline of its projects.
“Gamuda IBS provides flexibility in design, while ensuring fast construction and superior quality finish,” Tan said, as quoted by The Star.
“Speed-wise, we are unmatched in that we are able to produce and install IBS panels at a rate of one floor each week for high-rise apartment units measuring 900sqft (84sqm).
“Looking at it another way, we are able to manufacture components for such apartment units at one unit every hour. With this kind of speed, traditional floor-by-floor casting cannot compete with us,” he said.