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Stanley Modular joins forces with digital start-up to shake up the building industry

Tallwood aims to change the way New Zealand goes about building. The product of the merger of the businesses of Stanley Modular Limited, a leading offsite manufacturer, with Tall Wood Limited, an innovative design and technology start-up,  Tallwood uses digital fabrication processes and offsite manufacture to design and construct buildings out of engineered timber.

Rob Marshall, CEO of Tallwood, believes the new Tallwood model presents an innovative alternative to the building industry’s traditional methods of construction. Stanley Modular’s expertise in delivering prefabricated buildings and the existing offsite manufacturing premises and infrastructure are fundamental to the new entity’s ability to deliver at scale and across a wide range of projects.

“Over the past 10 years Stanley Modular has delivered thousands of dwelling units in a market that wasn’t accepting of offsite manufacture,” says Marshall. “In the current climate, with clients looking for innovative solutions, we’re very busy but we’re not at capacity yet. We’ll easily complete 500 units in our first year and can scale up to over a thousand a year immediately if needed.”

Over the past 16 years Stanley Modular has developed a reputation for solution-based builds, often to meet the demands of remote locations, difficult sites and stringent completion dates. A project to build the Knoll Ridge Chalet, located 2000m above sea level on Mount Ruapehu, required navigating a harsh, remote environment with no crane access.

The merger was “the logical thing to do,” says Marshall. “What the industry needs is an entity that extends the value chain by providing not just manufacture, and not just design, but design, manufacture and installation. One of the things Stanley Modular didn’t previously possess was a strong design resource. Tallwood brings that capability.”

Daiman Otto, Tallwood’s Director of Design and Digital Construction, does not expect the types of projects or clientele to alter with the merger. “It is the process of engagement that will change. Rather than being handed a design from an architect, the new Tallwood has greater involvement in the design process,” explains Otto. “The ultimate goal is to bring more certainty to our clients. By involving us early in the design phase we can ensure the components of a Tallwood build are optimised in terms of size, cost, buildability and speed of delivery.”

According to PrefabNZ, a standard prefabricated house build is cheaper by about -15% compared to traditional building methods. Cost savings are attributed to standardised design, efficiencies of building in a controlled environment, certainty in both cost and time estimates and reduced time frames due to an accelerated construction program.

There are significant time savings with a Tallwood build, too, most clients achieving at least a 30% reduction in the length of the construction programme. The on-site installation process is particularly fast, with the building – depending on size – assembled on-site and closed in days or weeks, rather than months.

The new entity is already involved in a number of projects, including The Grounds, a 42-apartment complex at Hobsonville Point. “Traditionally there’s been a gap in the typologies that have been delivered to the market here,” says Otto. “Standalone homes and high density apartments have long been available but the ‘missing middle,’ – medium density apartments, townhouses and terraces – have not been delivered at scale. Tallwood can help fill that gap.”

According to Otto, the recent merger positions the new entity as a catalyst for change. “Both companies share a passion for offsite manufacture. We believe we can change the game so that New Zealanders can live and work in healthy, high-quality, cost-effective homes and buildings.”

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