Tillmann, Patricia, Formoso, Carlos and Tzortzopoulos, Patricia (2015) Opportunities and challenges to mass customise low-income housing in Brazil. In: ZEMCH conference - Zero Energy Mass Custom Home, 22-25 September 2015, Lecce, Italy. (Unpublished)

Mass Customization (MC) stands for the ability to develop high value-added products within short time frames and at relatively low costs. Although this strategy has been successfully applied in several industries, in construction it has been mostly limited to a few companies that produce factory-built and manufactured homes. In Brazil, where traditional construction techniques are majorly adopted in low-income housing programs, there have been many critics regarding the excessive standardization and thus, non-consideration of the increasing diversity of households and their specific needs. Such standardization is mainly due to the use of mass production core ideas as a way to achieve low costs. The aim of this paper was then to explore the possibilities of adopting mass customization in this context. Two existing low-income housing programs in Brazil were investigated. The discussion on the opportunities and challenges to introduce mass customization ideas in these programs are based on the analysis of the product development process, as well as an analysis of household profiles and needs. The results indicated that the household profile is very diverse in low-income housing. Thus, demand for customization is high, as well as attributed to different products’ characteristics. However, the product development process in this context was found to be very different from a process of mass customized products. Despite the need to modify such process, it was identified that mass customization can be achieved in a variety of ways, and does not necessarily imply on the modernization of construction techniques. However, a major challenge for achieving higher customization in this context seems to be related to the programs’ rules and how it restraints innovation and diversity.

Keywords: product development process, low-income housing, mass customization, value management

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