WHAT IS COMMERCIAL MODULAR CONSTRUCTION?

Modular construction is an off-site building method where the structure is built in separate sections or modules, typically in a manufacturing plant, using a tightly controlled assembly line process. The buildings are designed to the same model building codes and standards and incorporate identical construction materials to those that are used in facilities which are primarily site-built.

The construction of the building typically uses either wood (Type V-b) or steel framing (Type II-b) for the structure and may incorporate a wood or concrete floor. The modular sections are configured to accommodate the building layout and typically range between 10’ and 14’ wide and 30’ to 70’ long in order to be transportable to the construction site.

After manufacturing, the modules are transported to the construction site where they are assembled together on an appropriate foundation system yielding a building that is comparable to a site-built structure but is completed in a significantly reduced time frame.

The benefits of modular construction

Speed: The modular construction process provides for a simultaneous overlap of theactivities that take place off-site in the manufacturing plant and on-site while preparing the site for the building installation. Since the structure is being built in the factory and doesn't wait for the site preparation to take place or is subjected to weather delays, a permanent or relocatable modular construction project can be completed in 25-40% of the time required for typical site-built methods.

Lower Costs: The modular construction process can yield 10-25% lower design and construction costs and the compressed schedule helps reduce the overall project general conditions and financing required. The approach provides for a more predictable and streamlined process with beter coodination to reduce costly mistakes and material waste. The vertical integration of many modular companies also provides for a greater degree of value engineering to meet a client's budget on a project.

Superior Quality: Modular construction utilizes the same materials and is built to the same codes, standards, and architectural specifications as site construction methods. Quality improvements are recognized through the factory assembly process which leads to greater efficiencies, consistency, and safety, while established protocols for receiving, rejecting, and storing materials also eliminate issues with poor or damaged components. Permanent modular buildings can be designed to match existing structures, and after installation and finish-out are often indistinguishable from a completely site-built structures.

Sustainability: The use of a factory-controlled manufacturing is also a greener process that generates less waste, reduces on-site disturbances, and allows for tighter control of the entire process. There is less material waste and greater use of recycling of building materials, and with relocatable buildings they can be dismantled and relocated or refurbished for a new or secondary use.

The two types of Modular Construction

Relocatable Buildings

A relocatable building uses a factorybuilt modular construction process where the structures are typically constructed to a 80% or greater level of completion in the manufacturing plant, including the application of the interior and exterior finishes. The buildings are designed with complete MEP, fixtures, and finishes that enable them to be conveniently reused or repurposed multiple times. They offer the fastest form of delivery, the ability to relocate to other sites, and potentially advantageous financing and tax characteristics associated with the building being classified as personal property. Relocatable buildings meet state and local building code requirements and are an ideal solution for meeting fast temporary or interim space solutions.

Permanent Modular

Permanent Modular Construction (PMC) is an environmentally sustainable construction method that utilizes lean offsite manufacturing techniques to prefabricate single or multistory buildings that are delivered in modular sections and attached to a permanent foundation. This process can be performed on traditional pier and beam type foundations, or on a traditional engineered concrete slab where the modules are built without a floor and are crane set directly on to the concrete slab. PMC buildings can also be integrated with other forms of site construction like pre-engineered steel buildings or concrete tilt-wall to yield hybrid facilities that can meet larger mixed-use applications.

Correcting the Modular Myths

Modular Buildings Are Structurally Sound

Modular buildings are designed and built to meet the same building codes and approvals as site constructed facilities. The off-site manufacturing process is monitored by an applicable state approved inspection program, while the local inspection process at the site insures that each facility will meet the structural integrity and performance that is required. In many cases, the modules are superior structurally given how they are built to safely transport them on the highway and for crane-setting onto the foundation.

Modular Buildings Aren't Just Temporary

For years modular buildings constituted an image of temporary or mobile type facilities primarily used by construction companies or schools. Although these are still a staple of the industry, the advances in permanent modular construction approaches has allowed for the development of sophisticated single and multistory application for space needs across a broad multitude of industries. And, with proper maintenance, they do not have a limited lifespan.

They Offer Unlimited Architectural Appeal

With the improvements in the production process and an increasing number of design professionals rapidly embracing modular construction, today's generation of both relocatable and permanent modular buildings have a greater degree of curb appeal and functionality than ever before. Whether it's a freestanding facility or an addition to an existing building, modular buildings can be designed to meet or exceed the architectural aesthetics of traditional site built structures.

INDUSTRY APPLICATIONS FOR MODULAR CONSTRUCTION

Superior quality and a reduction in completion time are just a few of the benefits that relocatable or permanent modular construction can offer owners and institutions requiring facilities for education, healthcare, hospitality, and other commercial and government applications. Whether it's for a standalone facility or an addition to an existing structure, modular construction is a proven building method to create functional and flexible buildings that integrate into most environments. It's ideal for the kind of occupancies that allow for light structural loading and favors floor plan layouts that call for multiple room and area compartmentalization. Only facilities that require large volumes or high ceilings like airport hangers or large unfinished spaces such as warehouses are generally not suitable for modular buildings unless done as a hybrid project using a combination of modular construction and other site construction techniques for the appropriate spaces.

For architects, developers, and owners alike, modular construction can meet the sophisticated design and construction expectations to rival that of site-built facilities. By choosing the use of off-site construction early in the project planning phase, the building can be designed around the individual modular sections to ensure good functionality while also allowing for 100% percent of the structure to be factory assembled.

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