The Ministry of National Development is looking into making the construction and real estate industry more productive.

One major push will involve adopting pre-fabricated building technologies, also known as Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA), through a tax relief scheme, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee in Parliament yesterday.

"We know that there is a cost premium with DfMA technologies that our industry needs to ride out. To help lower this premium, the public sector will continue to take the lead to generate demand," said Mr Lee.

The Land Intensification Allowance (LIA) scheme will be extended to cover the construction of pre-fabrication hubs.

These hubs, known as integrated construction and prefabrication hubs (ICPHs), are highly automated factories that manufacture DfMA components. 

The LIA scheme allows companies to claim expenses incurred when they build properties that meet a certain land use intensity.

The scheme will provide tax relief on the capital investment of firms when they develop ICPHs, said Mr Lee, who also showed a video on how these hubs work. There are currently four of them.

Citing the benefits arising from DfMA, Mr Lee said that it requires less labour and shortens project time. "There is less noise and dust," he said.

It could also generate more jobs for Singaporeans, he added.

In addition, real estate stakeholders will come out with a Real Estate Industry Transformation Map, Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon said.

The map will outline how real estate firms can overcome challenges posed by digital disruption and boost productivity. For example, by using infocomm technology, a resale deal might involve just one appointment with the Housing Board instead of two, he said.

In some countries, consumers were using online platforms to conduct deals themselves, he said.