Why Modular Construction is the Future of Building

Until the last 30 years, construction practices had not really changed much for the previous hundred. It has often been said that builders and contractors are among the most stubborn, set in their ways, industry group out there. And why fix something that is not broken right? well that’s been the general consensus for many years. but now things have changed- as urban areas age, and construction costs continue to rise around the country (and the world) new challenges have arisen which can only be met by a better, more efficient method of building. And that is where modular construction comes into play…

In The Big City

In Urban areas around the country structures are aging faster then we can reasonably build new ones, and this creates a situation where urban decay and degradation thrive because the costs associated with replacing these structures has often been too high in relation to the income that can reasonably be derived from the result of a new project. Part of the problem is the excessive costs associated with the logistics of running a construction project in a high pop. density area, and mitigating the impact of a 12 month build on the surrounding neighborhood and traffic grid.

With modular construction your on-site construction time can often be reduced to 90 to 120 days, drastically reducing the impact on the surrounding neighborhood and the costs and headaches associated with it. This by itself is huge, and when you combine that with the reduced capital costs, and extra income from your quickly completed project the $$$’s start to really add up!

When Disaster Strikes

In recent years modular construction has come through helping families to return to their homes in a matter of weeks and months as opposed to months and years. Whether it is the wildfire ravaged hills of Southern California or the Hurricane victims of the gulf coast, modular construction helps families and communities return to normal life without years and years of frustrating rebuilding efforts.

What many people do not realize is that modular homes are built to match and adhere to all the same building codes as standard construction. So when you rebuild modular what you get is a structure that matches or exceeds the quality and value of your previous structure. (Assuming the plans are similar)

Another thing to consider is the fact that modular construction can be adapted to almost any floor plan – so a modular rebuild can almost always match the structure it is replacing.

In The Developments of The Future

As the size of a project increases, the number of sub-contractors, weather delays, logistical problems, and legal hassles increases in turn. Developers already have enough things to worry about with their projects without having to deal with these now unnecessary headaches. With modular construction all that really increases are the number of modules – which can be stacked up to three stories just like any standard stick built building.

While standard construction becomes more of a hassle, the full benefits of the modular construction process are highlighted as the size of your project increases. It is not hard to imagine a future when all commercial developments are completed this way.

Your Dream Home Come True!

If you have witnessed any custom homes being built lately then you have probably seen just how expensive it can be to build a home these days. That is because the rising costs of labor and materials combined with stick built construction companies that are struggling themselves of late makes for projects that often go over budget, past deadline, or worse are put on delay while companies struggle to shuffle around vital crews, sub-contractors and/or other resources.

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Modular Construction: The ‘Green’ Way To Build

The demand for sustainable building has never been more important in the history of construction, for both economic and environmental reasons. Energy is high in demand and short in supply, making the costs very high.

Modular buildings are a proven approach which reduces the environmental impact of the construction compared to traditional methods. The energy efficiency is increased as well as the overall sustainability.

Firstly, the reason why this process is more energy efficient is because ninety percent of the building is constructed in a factory including its flooring, fixtures, appliances and finishes. They are built in module blocks, and then transported to the site almost finished. This means that there is a minimal amount of work to do on site, thus the resources, materials and skilled craftsmen are all located in a single location whilst construction is underway, which helps to make it a green process.

Material Waste is Reduced

When building a conventional building a significant amount of waste is lost. In fact an astonishing eight thousand pounds is thrown away into a landfill, using this method, for a two thousand square foot home. Although the need for recycling is gaining more momentum for traditional methods of construction, when building modular buildings in factories, material left over from a project is utilised and used in a different project in the factory, resulting in a reduced amount of materials being wasted.

Construction Time is Reduced

Reduced time means a reduced impact on the environment. The reason why completion time is much shorter for modular constructions, is because vandalism, theft or weather delays are almost non-existent within a factory which means that the process is less likely to become delayed.

Sustainability Increased after Completion

If a building is designed efficiently it can improve the sustainability of it. Modular construction has access to a factory, which will have decent “sealing”, therefore reducing the air infiltration and preventing heat loss when the building is complete. On the other hand, traditional methods are limited around electrical outlets, pipes, fixtures and other air infiltration sources.

Unfortunately many people have misconceptions about modular buildings which often put them off investing in one. This is hard to believe when you consider their overall efficiency and how much the process reduces wastage and enhances sustainability. In addition to this, modular homes are not exempt from the same codes that site-built buildings have to follow, and yet modulars often go above and beyond building standards.

Modular Construction Continues To Expand

The verdict is in; people love modular construction, and it is slated for continued growth in the upcoming years. Modular building provides unique solutions and solves problems. A recent survey about modular construction found the following:

61% of all respondents think the use of prefabrication will grow more than 5% a year over the next three years. Currently, 81% of the mechanical and electrical contractors surveyed for this report own their own prefabrication facilities. Of those who don’t, 33% are considering starting up their own facilities.

This survey continued to also examine the benefits, as well as some of the barriers, to modular building. As with many seemingly new things, there is a bell curve- style shape of adopters of modular building. Although modular construction has been around for years, it wasn’t seen as a viable alternative to most types of construction until recently.

We are beginning to see a shift in the way people view modular construction, and it is being used for a wide variety of projects that include everything from modular office buildings to modular wall partitions. Modular construction has a considerable amount of range and stands out from traditional methods of building.

What were the motivating factors that led businesses to use modular? Price was a great motivator, but it goes beyond the actual cost of just the materials. In large construction or renovation projects, there are many hidden costs that are now being brought to light.

If staff needs to be moved, production halted, or even the distraction of having an army of contractors and subcontractors coming and going, can all attribute to those hidden costs. The disruption that comes with conventional methods of construction adds up to a loss of production, lack of productivity, and discomfort of employees.

Modular construction not only saves time and money; it also eliminates the hidden costs and isn’t intrusive. The way modular fabrication works is that the main components are fabricated in a factory. This yields high quality products that can easily be checked for quality control. The modular fabrication process is eco-friendly by using resources wisely and recycles excess steel, paper and aluminum.

After the factory fabricates the components, they are shipped to the build site. Instead of having numerous contractors and subcontractors for framing, electrical work, patching, painting and other duties, a small modular installation team can complete all of those tasks and more.

Modular Construction: The Greener Way to Build

Traditional construction faces many issues when it comes to the handling, creation, and recycling of wasted materials. In fact, an NAHB study found that an estimated 8,000 lbs of waste is created from the construction of a 2,000 square foot building. These squandered materials are all standard materials that you would use to construct a building: wood, brick, insulation, drywall, etc. However, only an estimated 20% of these leftover construction materials are actually repurposed or recycled, according to The American Institute of Architects. On top of that, the AIA states that “it is estimated that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the national solid waste stream is building-related waste.”[1] And in 2009 the Construction Materials Recycling Association, estimated that construction and demolition waste from building construction was around 325 million tons annually. So, in a society that constantly pushes for greener solutions across all facets of life, what alternatives do companies have to be more eco-friendly?

Modular Sustainability

The processes that go into modular construction allow for far more accountable and ecological building methods. Modular construction takes advantage of a process known as “Mass Customization.” When constructing a modular building, the same paneling that used to create one building can be snapped into place on another building. However, you can still design the building practically however you want! Therefore, any paneling left unused after a job, can simply be used on the next one. Plus, they will not need to be moved very far because all structures are built in our own facilities, ensuring they will not go to waste. And we use CAD software to map out all our prefabricated projects, so we know the exact amount of materials that need to go into each job.

The factory setting also allows us to better control our inventory and regulate the working conditions, in comparison to traditional construction. While most construction sites have delays due to inclement weather, the modular construction process takes place indoors, keeping our moisture levels low in our materials, preventing damage. While our employees construct the building indoors, the project site is being set up for installation. Therefore, with these two processes occurring simultaneously, the building site receives far less disturbance from foot traffic, machinery, equipment, and materials.

Ultimately, the same paneling that allows us to use Mass Customization also supports recycling efforts. Our buildings are designed to be installed and disassembled easily. So when a building is no longer of use, instead of being demolished like traditional construction, the paneling can simply be taken apart and reused. This allows you to drastically cut down on waste in the deconstruction process as well. Many of the structures are also moveable, so the same building can be moved to another location to serve another purpose for you.

The Modular Difference

The first step of waste reduction comes in the attention to detail in the design process. Having sales people work with clients to ensure every detail of your project is mapped out and taken care of. Then, the project and all of the details should be sent to engineering, where they should meticulously design every aspect of the structure. From this point, all the materials you need should be mapped out, down to every last nut and bolt. From there, simply take the required pieces from inventory and get to work on the factory floor.

In the factory, inventory is easier to control than a traditional construction site. All materials have set storage areas that provide easy management and movement. In fact, WRAP, an organization dedicated to resource efficiency, stated that “Volumetric (modular) building systems are the ultimate in offsite manufacturing technology and their substitution for traditional building methods typically leads to a virtual elimination of all wastage bar excavation spoil for ground preparation.”[2] They also showed that an estimated 70-90% of construction waste can be eliminated through offsite construction practices.

Overall, modular construction allows for efficiency and sustainability in all aspects of the construction process. The factories are designed for our employees to quickly grab and transport materials. The construction process is designed to ensure every piece of material is used to its fullest potential. And the products are designed to be quickly put together, durable, and perfectly customizable for the customers. Modular buildings and structures provide world class construction methods for your company, while also providing an ecofriendly solution for the environment.