All about Modular and Prefabricated Construction Projects

What is Modular Construction?

The modular industry is divided into two industry segments: permanent modular and re-locatable (temporary) modular.  Temporary modular are meant to meet temporary needs and can be rented for short-term or bought outright. Examples for re-locatable modular include show rooms, communication pods, and temporary class rooms. Permanent modular, on the other hand, is long term permanent construction.

The modular industry involves both dealers and manufacturers. The manufacturers build modules according to the requirements provided by the modular dealers. This basically means that these manufacturers work for the contractors or dealers. Modular dealers act as general contractor calgary and contract for providing permanent or temporary modular construction. These dealers provide the clients with all the necessary details and knowledge regarding project delivery and construction process.  The dealers and manufacturers work together and create real value for the building owners and project team.

The manufacturers may place their focus on the type of building to be constructed, for example commercial or residential, or they may focus on whether the construction is permanent or temporary. However, in today’s time, manufacturers are becoming increasingly skilled and knowledgeable, and are working on various types of markets, buildings, and industry segments.

Non-Modular and Modular Structures

Modular buildings, either permanent or temporary, can work as structural units that then make up the building structure once it is assembled on the place of construction.  Non-structural Modular like service pods or factory-fitted washrooms can be positioned within a large modular structure.

Modular structures can be built from various materials like hot rolled steel, wood framing, concrete, cold-formed steel framing, or a combination of different materials. However, not all manufacturers offer their services in many materials. They rather focus on construction using particular materials to specialize in those construction types and maximize factory efficiency.

The choice of material type is made by the stakeholders and it usually depends upon project cost, site forces, and project demands. Modular construction uses inside out manufacturing approach. In modular construction, frames are built as planes which are then fitted as boxes. They are then finished from inside out. This process is quite different from the traditional outside in assembly sequence, which does not allow multiple trading during the construction cycle. The modular construction avoids difficulties faced due to unpredictable weather changes, one by one trades, and other delays linked to traditional on-site construction.

Modular Construction vs. On-site Traditional Construction

The modular construction process, in general, is quite different from the traditional process of on-site construction. Due to this reason, many architects, builders, and owners are left confused about which construction process to go for. It is also because modular construction is still flourishing whereas traditional on-site construction has already make its mark in the industry. Although, the traditional construction process has it owns cons.

The traditional on-site construction process involves rigidly defined responsibilities and elaborated consequences of failures. This risk-abating behavior of the project team in traditional construction process shows an adversarial culture which is disadvantageous for the building owners or stakeholders.

This process basically leads to waste of productivity as the building owners are losing their money on these projects and contactors have to bear a great deal of risk and financial burden during the process, whereas engineers and architects are not witnessing any quality increase in design.

Volumetric Modular Construction or Prefabricated Building

A common type of modular construction is volumetric modular construction, also known as Prefabricated Building. Prefab building basically refers to off-site construction. These buildings are usually in a three-dimensional form and 60-90% of their structure is built off-site.

Prefab building involves four steps:

  • Design approval by the owner or buyer.
  • Assembly of all the components of module
  • Transporting the modules to the final construction site
  • Formation of modules to build a finished building.

Much research has been conducted regarding the benefits of prefab building and the researcher have successfully come up with various advantages of off-site construction over on-site construction. These advantages include:

  • Greater cost predictability
  • Less material waste
  • Compressed construction schedule. This is because site work is being carried out simultaneously with the module construction taking place in factory.
  • Increases security and safety of equipment and laborers
  • Less site disturbance
  • Reduced carbon emissions resulting from on-site construction and transportation.

Custom, modern, multi-story buildings with brick exteriors, concrete floors, lighting, windows, electrical services, air conditioning, plumbing and everything you want can be constructed by prefab building in half the time of on-site building.

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