Prefab, off-site, or modular construction have been part of the construction industry for many years. This construction process is now being applied to larger-scale projects, however, and that is having a huge impact on the construction industry. According to Construction Globe, 35% of contractors in the U.S. are implementing modular construction in some way during their building process.
Modular prefabrication structures are made from the same materials as traditional building projects and meet all of the same codes and engineering specs. The process is what is what makes it so different. As the foundation is being created, so too can the in-factory manufacturing of the other building materials.
With that being said, prefab is desirable for more than just the process.
Here are 10 things you should know:
- Environmental benefits exist
Modular construction takes less energy on average when compared to traditional construction. The waste can be reused much easier in a factory setting. As much as 135 million tons of construction waste was reduced in 2015 through recycling materials that would have otherwise been sent to a landfill. These factors, when applied to an increasing application in the industry, have the potential to make a big impact on the environment.
- Sustainability is higher
With less energy and waste created through modular construction, this is a more sustainable form of construction. The demands for sustainable buildings, especially in sprawling urban areas, is only increasing. Modular construction answers the call for green technology in the construction industry. Having a more precise construction process resulting in tighter joints, better filtration, and better insulation will make the final product a more energy efficient and sustainable building.
- Quality control is stricter
Modular construction is done in a more controlled environment and because of this, the opportunity for better quality control is there. The quality of building materials will be consistent because each sub-assembly is built by an experienced crew with precise machine equipment versus individual contractors. Multiple quality checks are completed throughout the process, as well, to ensure the highest quality. Because the materials are designed and built then transported and assembled, they are less susceptible to on-site challenges or damage, as well.
- Weather related issues are reduced
Construction projects are almost always delayed at some point by weather-related issues. Weather can also contribute to an unsafe working environment. If the majority of the building is done off site, those delays and threats can be nearly eliminated. This is one big area for cost and time savings alike.
- Time efficiencies can be created
The time efficiencies created go beyond weather-related delays. There are fewer disruptions overall and, as discussed earlier, the process lends itself to increased efficiency. As structures that must be built on site are created, the next phase of materials can be created simultaneously in the factory. According to a study done by Mortenson, prefab resulted in an 18% reduction in schedule.
- Worker safety is increased
The same study done by Mortenson revealed that 7 safety incidents were also avoided as a direct result of using modular construction. Creating building materials in a factory means safety issues associated with moisture, dirt, and environmental hazards like wind are avoided. Factory processes and procedures are strict to ensure a safe working environment in this alternative work setting.
- Flexibility for space and location
Flexibility in design is possible with modular construction. The units can be used in different spaces, making the possibilities endless. Modular construction can also be disassembled and relocated to a different site if desired.
- Cost savings are possible
The time and the waste saved, as discussed above, both result in cost savings. The materials themselves can also be saved on. The modular manufacturer buys materials necessary in bulk which results in a lower price per piece. Construction financing can also be saved on.
- Energy consumption is reduced
Reduced energy consumption can be measure in two places. The manufacturing facility where the materials are made takes less energy than a traditional construction site and the finished product itself uses less energy, as discussed on the sustainability section. Using less energy and especially fewer fossil fuels during construction will impact the bottom line.
- It’s all about planning
For modular fabrication to be successful, the planning process is essential. The cost and time savings won’t be realized if the materials arrive to the site and do not properly fit together. Having everything incredibly precise is not easy, but in order for modular construction to make an impact on the industry and the environment, the planning process needs to be given great emphasis. The timeline will also need to be planned well. Of course, this is true with all construction projects, but planning for a modular timeline will be an adjustment when switching over from traditional build timelines.
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