explore our market researches

Market reports

See all
usp

News I published 29 August 2022

Contractors expect prefab usage to decrease

Over the past years, we have seen the use of prefabricated elements in building construction grow throughout the European construction market. The growth of prefabrication is famously connected with labour shortages and digitalisation in the construction sector.

As it allows for a more efficient way of constructing, reducing time and labour needed, prefab offers solid solutions in places where labour shortages are plaguing the construction sector. Meanwhile, using prefabricated elements can make the design and construction process much more complex, which is why prefab often goes and grows hand in hand with digitalisation and the use of building information modelling.

Clear though the connection with labour shortage and level of digitalisation may be, they are by no means the only trends in construction to drive or hamper the use of prefabrication, as is shown by the H1 2022 results of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor monitor.

European contractors’ share of prefab projects grew but is expected to decline  

Across the eight European countries where we interviewed contractors, some form of prefabricated building elements or off-site construction was used in 41% of their projects on average. This share has grown significantly since 2018, when prefab played a role in less than a third of contractors’ projects.

Interestingly, these European contractors expect to have fewer projects that include some form of prefab in the years to come. On average, they expect only 35% of their projects to contain some form of prefabrication or off-site construction in 2025, and 40% in 2030.

It is important to note though, that there are major differences per country both in current penetration of prefab and expectations for the future. The outliers in this spectrum of prefab usage form excellent examples to either prove the importance of labour shortages and digitalisation for prefabrication in construction, or to show that this connection can easily be overruled by other factors.

The Netherlands are the perfect breeding ground for prefabrication 

With some form of prefabrication being used in a whopping 71% of contractors’ projects, prefab usage in the Netherlands is far above the European average. Contrary to the average expectations of European contractors, Dutch contractors expect that share to keep rising in the coming years, albeit at a slower pace. That prefab is so predominant in the Dutch construction market can for a large part be explained by the above-mentioned factors of labour shortage and digitalisation.

Housing shortages and the quest for more sustainable buildings majorly increased the demand for building construction in the Netherlands, adding to labour shortages that were relatively high to begin with. At the same time, the Dutch construction sector has one of the highest levels of digitalisation and BIM usage in Europe. Add the fact that the Dutch style of terrace houses fit prefab construction really well, and it is clear that the Netherlands are indeed a perfect breeding ground for prefabrication.

German contractors show that economic development determines expectations 

As mentioned, the interviewed contractors expect their share of projects with some form of prefab to decline in the years to come, at least on average. Interestingly, the sharpest decline is expected by contractors in Germany. Currently, with 53% of projects containing prefabrication, German contractors show the second-highest level of prefab penetration. However, contractors expect this share to fall to a mere 21% by 2025.

Why these dramatic expectations in Germany though? Like in the Netherlands, labour shortages are also plaguing the German construction and installation sectors. And although the German construction sector is not at the top regarding the level of digitalisation, it is definitely not at the bottom either. In fact, Germany is also a solid usage of prefabrication, as is proven by its current second place. So what makes the German contractors so pessimistic regarding the usage of prefab in the short term?

A probable explanation is that together with the economy at large, the German construction sector is slowing down a bit. It is likely that this causes German contractors expect fewer projects. Fewer projects mean that labour shortages are less of a pressing issue, which neutralises a major driver for prefab usage. Additionally, prefab is mainly used for larger projects and a slowing economy can very well mean there will be fewer of those large projects to be done.

Altogether, this shows that economic development has a major influence on the expected development of prefabrication in construction that can overrule drivers like labour shortage and digitalisation. In the end, these expectations of contractors are only a part of the whole picture of developments and trends in the European construction sector. For a full overview we refer you to the H1 2022 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor monitor.

Fresh Insights Await

Our latest reports

Delve into the newest findings across various market segments, crafted for a cutting-edge overview. Explore our latest reports, brimming with up-to-date data, trend analyses, and in-depth examinations, all tailored to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the current market dynamics.

Construction

Home Improvement

Installation

Construction

Purchase Channels H2 2023

2024 123

Explore the buying and ordering behaviour among contractors in H1 2023. Uncover the key channels used, share-of-wallet and much more.

Construction

Behavioural segmentation and media usage report 2023

2023 75 pages

This report provides a comprehensive overview of purchase behaviour, products, and media usage, specifically focusing on European handymen. It delves into how handymen use media, and for what purposes, and examines their habits and preferences in terms of purchasing behaviour.

Construction

Purchase behaviour 2023

2023 64 pages

Uncover the purchasing behaviors among painters in 2023. Understand the factors driving their choices and how they relate to product and brand preferences.

Construction

Sustainability Q2 2023

2023 94 pages

Uncover architects' perspectives on sustainability in Q2 2023. Explore the evolving sustainable practices and the impact on architectural designs and project implementations.

Construction

Media orientation Q1 2023

2023 95 pages

Unravel the media engagement trends among European architects in Q1 2023. Delve into how different media channels are utilized for information, inspiration, and professional growth.

Construction

Prefab in construction Q3 2023

2023 90 pages

Delve into the influential role of contractors within construction decision-making units. Explore the dynamics and the extent of impact contractors have in crucial construction decisions.

Home Improvement

Branding Q3 2023

2023 93 pages

This report offers an extensive overview of the home improvement industry, with a focus on branding and the most popular brands within different categories. Within this report, you will gain insights into how customers perceive home improvement brands and what motivates them to buy certain products.

Home Improvement

Purchase channels Q2 2023

2023 114 pages

The European Home Improvement Monitor offers valuable insights on purchase channels in the European home improvement industry, examining the evolving preferences and behaviors of consumers across traditional retail and emerging online platforms.

Home Improvement

Rise of digital natives Q1 2022

2022 120 pages

Explore the impact of digital natives on the home improvement sector in Q1 2022. Discover how digitalization is shaping consumer behaviors and market trends.

Home Improvement

Purchase Channels Q2 2022

2022 124 pages

Uncover the prevalent purchase channels in the home improvement sector during Q2 2022. Delve into consumer preferences and the factors influencing their purchasing decisions.

Home Improvement

DIY versus DIFM Q4 2021

2021 113 pages

This report is a must-have if you’re in the home improvement industry. It provides a wealth of information on the behaviour of DIY and DIFM consumers, their motivations, and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions.

Installation

Training needs Q4 2023

2024 110 Pages

This report explores the training needs of installers, both digital and personal. The full report covers all important training needs & aspects and offers a comprehensive overview of business development in the installation sector across important European countries.

Installation

Purchase channels Q4 2023

2024 97 pages

This report offers a comprehensive view of the buying and ordering behaviour among electrical installers in Europe. Within the report, you will find key information on the purchase channels installers use, the share-of-wallet per channel, the way of ordering and much more.

Installation

Services in the Installation market Q2 2023

2023 111 pages

This report explores the type of support installers anticipate from manufacturers and to what degree. Alongside a thorough examination of installation services, the report presents a comprehensive overview of business development in the installation sector across important European countries.

Installation

Sustainability Q1 2023

2023 99 pages

The European Mechanical Installation Monitor report provides a detailed analysis of the plumbing and HVAC industry. This report specifically focuses on sustainability aspects in the industry.

Installation

Purchase channels Q3 2023

2023 106 pages

This report provides a comprehensive view of the attitudes of installers toward purchase channels, specifically among HVAC installers. In the report, you will find insights into buying behaviour, which channels are mostly used, which are growing, and whether online channels are gaining acceptance.

Installation

Sustainability Q1 2023

2023 73 pages

Delve into sustainability trends in the home improvement sector in Q1 2023. Discover consumer preferences and the shift towards eco-friendly home improvement solutions.