Illawarra-based company Joint Modular building flat-pack homes

The award-winning Garden Studio project aka 'The Joint' at Thirroul. Do you have an interesting real estate story? Please email brendan.crabb@fairfaxmedia.com.au with details. Picture: Marcus Piper
The award-winning Garden Studio project aka 'The Joint' at Thirroul. Do you have an interesting real estate story? Please email brendan.crabb@fairfaxmedia.com.au with details. Picture: Marcus Piper

The key to housing affordability is diversity, an Illawarra-based director believes. 

Joint Modular is an award-winning design-build company delivering a variety of architecturally-designed spaces from studios to granny flats and entire houses.

This includes creating flat-pack homes at their North Wollongong workshop, where they build all the walls, roof structure and joinery that goes inside the houses. 

Director Brent Dunn said that the growing popularity of secondary dwellings was “one answer” to tackling some of the region’s housing issues. “I think the key to affordability is diversity,” he said.

“I think it’s offering a product that is a lot higher design and construction quality outcome than a standard spec-built home.

“It’s a little bit more expensive… There’s no magic bullet for construction costs in Australia, they’re high, and if you want quality you’ve got to pay for it.”

Mr Dunn said recent years have seen a surge in demand for secondary dwellings, as housing affordability and population increases have resulted in many reassessing the value and potential utility of their property.

“In response to this demand, Joint Modular has been formed by the architects in partnership with a builder to offer a design-lead construction service,” he said.

“A modular, semi-prefabricated building system has been developed, with various user options to accommodate differing budget requirements.”

Mr Dunn said their building process enabled them to reach a quality of construction that would not be possible in many cases unless there was a lot more time spent on-site. 

He said they had “adapted a forklift to turn into a mini-crane, and that gets loaded on to a series of cradles that get loaded on to a semi and taken to site”. 

BEING INNOVATIVE: The Joint Modular team of Brent Dunn, Jane Fullerton-Smith, Matt Park and Katharina Hendel. Picture: Shantanu Starick

BEING INNOVATIVE: The Joint Modular team of Brent Dunn, Jane Fullerton-Smith, Matt Park and Katharina Hendel. Picture: Shantanu Starick

“Our buildings are delivered with completed exterior walls in the panels. The most recent one we’re doing near Byron Bay, it’s a building that once the floor platform was there… We’re three weeks in now, and the roof will be on by the end of this week.”

Mr Dunn said it was about “fitting into that in-between part of the market where there’s two big areas that we’re targeting”. 

“You have the granny flats, the secondary dwellings, the number of properties that people have at the moment that do have the opportunity to within their own property address some of the population pressures that we have at the moment.

“There’s just not enough land around, so it does make sense to build small and build things that are built with a certain longevity to them, so that the quality is high.”

Mr Dunn said the population pressure in the region is higher than many realised.

“We have got some issues surrounding land availability… That means property prices are high and that means you really have to look very hard to see if your property is actually being utilised for what it could be utilised for, for your needs.

“That’s not to say everybody should be doing the same thing. 

“There’s a diverse range of answers to the challenges that we’re facing.” 

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