As technology develops, there also comes a strong trend towards building things away from the site. In managing construction nowadays, one approach that is considered is modular construction. First, buildings are produced and built-in “modules.” Then, when put on-site, show the exact design and specification. Without compromise, it offers a sophisticated-built facility.
Modular approach has been involved in various project management for construction. And for that project, contractors and designers plan to put up modules away from the site, carefully truck them into the city, and stack them to complete the building. So, what is Modular Construction exactly? How does it benefit and help in managing tasks and managing construction for your company? Read on this blog to find out.
Understanding Modular Construction
For years, traditional construction would require us to bring all the materials to the building site. That is when tradespeople from the construction crew work as they assemble and cut the flooring or 2x4s at the project’s location. With modular construction, it is an approach wherein a building is built and constructed off-site and should be under a controlled condition.
It is a method of construction rather than a unique type of product. It uses the same materials and follows the same design regarding the standards and codes like the usually built facilities – however, in just about half the time. In other words, this approach consists of buildings that are produced in modules and assembled on site later, whether it be a house, apartment, or building for business.
For some, the modular construction might be modern or new. But know that many industries, especially those engaged in project management for construction, have been using this already. This modular is about the 3-dimensional structures with floor “boxes” from the factory that contain fixtures and interior finishes installed.
What does Modular Construction Approach Look like?
Modular construction methods are now compared to buildings that are made of blocks. This is mainly because each building section is always constructed to fit right with the next one. That said, it gives a high-quality product that is built in a safe and effective environment. Fortunately, modular construction results in durability, efficiency, and quality control.
In managing tasks with modular construction, you should know that each of the modules is 12-14 feet wide. This is to ensure that you can transport it through trucks to the building site. The length depends on the entire building configuration and must meet the square footage requirements. Also, the site layout must range from 30-70 feet long.
Since modular construction takes place at the manufacturing location, assembling must be done at the site. There must be project management for construction, including grading, excavation, utility installation, and too much work in the foundation. The construction crew management must always keep an eye on this task from the moment it started building the module to assemble the module to the site.
What are the benefits of Modular Construction?
In this section, we will know the benefits of modular construction and its effect on construction industries.
Faster and Saves Time
One of the good things why the construction crew management considers a modular construction approach is that it allows the project to be quick or half the time frame of traditional construction. It will enable few works to be completed in the factory. Hence, a great approach in scheduling management.
This time-saving benefit helps the project to finish on time and within schedule. It speeds up the project and remains efficient in scheduling management.
The modular approach is always better in managing construction, as it saves 30% to 60% of the entire schedule. Having said that, having project management for construction always finds it valuable and practical.
Less Waste and Flexible
When you’re managing construction with a modular approach, the process would always generate less waste. You may disassemble the modules and relocate them for new use. It lessens the demands for raw materials, thereby having only a little waste for the materials.
In addition, it improves air quality since managing tasks with a modular approach is done in a controlled factory setting. It uses dry materials, and the construction site is safe and clean. Finally, it provides more space to move and work around freely.
Labor Costs are Low
Modular construction can be an advantage and perhaps controversial because it involves economic labor. The construction crew management would also agree that there is a short supply of skilled labor for construction. It can be expensive in cities for some reason, and it leads to potential challenges when you try to get a building project constructed for a given timeline and, of course, budget.
The savings on the labor may vary. Modular construction allows the coveted skilled workers to be in a fixed location. It now attracts skilled workers to take advantage of the opportunity since modular sites are fixed. They will be assigned to the safer and controlled site. Therefore, there will be a potential for up to 25% savings on the construction cost.
Weather Delays would not be Possible
Through fabricating modules in a controlled site, the concern about the weather that may delay the construction would be unlikely. In addition, it gives the workers a more comfortable and safer place to work and become productive.
They may be able to produce and come up with products that are best in quality. The scheduling management would be easier to monitor as well.
Built According to Codes
Modular construction is about meeting or exceeding the exact building codes and even standards with the built-in site structures. It requires quality materials that are specified by architects, just like in the traditionally constructed buildings. Modular construction uses concrete, wood, and even steel.
Lots of Design Ideas and Opportunities
Modular units are smarter. They are designed to fit in with the aesthetics of an existing building and modular units, especially when it’s assembled. In other words, modular construction comes with limitless designs.
It is renowned for its better and cost-effective engineered building. Moreover, having project management for construction is ideal in using this technology since construction is in collaboration of materials, systems, and people – much like the software itself.
What are the Possible Drawbacks of Modular Construction?
As modular construction has remarkably developed and sounds progressive over the years, there are still downsides and challenges that must be considered. Know more about these challenges that may lead to the success or failure of the project.
Though modular construction requires quality materials and meets the same building codes as the buildings that are built traditionally, there are times that structural integrity is not that sound. Since modular buildings are built in sections, they must undergo inspections throughout the process. There must be a verification of the building’s structure and to ensure if it’s durable.
Modular buildings are always considered temporary since these are located at construction sites or businesses that are expanding. Hence, people consider and understand that modular are just temporary solutions. The buildings are just alternatives to meet the space needs of the schools, businesses, healthcare offices, and more.
However, there is also plenty of permanent modular construction available. These are custom-installed also to meet the specifications of a modular building. As a result, it gives a high-quality structure that could last for years or even decades.
Approval Process is Not Easy
Processing of approval can be complicated with modular construction. No matter how good and meeting the standards of engineers and architects, all the projects must be approved by the state, government, and local laws. However, the codes are applicable. With that, there are still states that are favorable to modular production than others.
Limited Suppliers and Variety
While there is an increasing demand for modular buildings from different companies, it’s still constrained to those interested. In this stage of construction technology, developing distinct modules may reduce potential defeats in the long run, especially with the time and cost for the advantage of buyers and suppliers.
High Transportation Cost
Since modules are pre-fabricated in a location away from the site, they need to be transported to the site. Perhaps you can stag it at a near place before setting it in place. With that, transportation is high since transporters must be careful in transporting the module.
One mishap during transportation could potentially ruin the module. This is because the transportation companies spend their efforts while on the road in moving the modules.
What are the Materials Used for Modular Construction?
There are two primary structural materials used in modular construction. These are:
- Concrete and Steel (Type II-B non-combustible) construction
- Standard Wood-frame construction (Type V-B)
Among the two, concrete and steel are sturdier materials. On the other hand, wood-framed is tagged as a less expensive choice. There are still other materials used in modular building construction, such as:
- Solid-core doors
- Vinyl-covered gypsum (VCG) or Drywall Interior Wall Finish
- Copper Piping or tubing
- Commercial fixtures and hardware
- Double-pane glass
- Rolled carpet/carpet tiles
- Ceramic tiles
While modular construction comes with benefits and gaining popularity in certain circumstances nowadays, it still needs proper decision-making for most companies. Some considerations may affect success or failure.
However, we are confident that more and more modular buildings and off-site construction will be performed in the future. In time, possible challenges will come with effective solutions towards making it a remarkable approach to the construction industry.