Offsite construction, such as permanent modular construction (PMC), has a number of advantages when compared to onsite construction, including speed, lower cost, and higher quality. There are, however, a number of challenges that come with PMC.
One such challenge is the need for every scope of work to be clearly defined prior to the start of work. What work is to be done offsite versus what is completed onsite? Electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and some finishes are typically completed in the factory, with related scopes typically completed onsite by a subcontractor. On account of this, every major subcontractor must provide a design assist role with the A/E of record and the prime contractor. In addition, a very detailed schedule must be part of each subcontractor’s contract.
In most design-build projects that utilize onsite construction, the design is not truly completed until the project is complete. Finalizing finishes, color samples, locking systems, and low voltage communication/data systems are not usually defined upfront. When using offsite technologies like PMC, the designs should be virtually 100% complete prior to beginning the offsite construction since some final finishes and low voltage systems are often completed in the factory. On sophisticated commercial projects that utilize a substantial amount of offsite construction, it is critical that the design professionals and the prime contractor are very familiar with modular construction and that they work closely with experienced subcontractors.
Ramtech Building Systems, Inc is a design-build contractor that owns and operates a modular manufacturing plant. Ramtech has a strong in-house design team that can either take the role of designer of record, or design assist. Our construction administration group has extensive experience in the proper sequencing of the work elements to take full advantage of all that modular construction has to offer. We work with a number of subcontractors that are very experienced with our Accelerated Building System (ABS), a proprietary permanent modular system that utilizes an engineered slab-on-grade foundation. Ramtech is also experienced in other onsite building systems, allowing us the ability to combine our ABS method with other building systems to provide the customer with a solution that incorporates the best characteristics of both onsite and offsite construction.