Does Conventional Building Have a Future?
The future of the conventional building is assuredly an interesting one because of the many changes that both impact and are driving fast-paced transformation in the construction industry. Builders now have more options when it comes to controlling budgets by harnessing the power of computer software analytics to optimize material usage and creating Pre-Engineered Buildings (PEBs) that are lighter weight and require minimal maintenance. Conventional construction and PEBs both have advantages and disadvantages, making it vital to have a complete understanding of both areas.
Conventional construction is how many buildings commonly have been built in the past, meaning that the building is architected from the ground up. Deviation from the original plan is often very difficult to execute, and the overall design utilizes rolled standardized “T” shaped steel sections that are challenging to customize. Key takeaway: Conventionally constructed buildings are far more linear structurally and must be designed from scratch using very few conventional design tools–with all customization work being done at the worksite.
Pre-Engineered Buildings (PEBs) use software-based design tools to create fluid designs that do not necessarily require using only geometric shapes. A PEB cannot be built until the full design is created. Once finished, customized pieces can be sourced from the manufacturer and rolled, cut, punched, and marked, making the assembly of the building frame much more manageable. Key takeaway: PEB architecture is highly technical, and this process optimizes material use and creates a lighter-weight building.
Pros and Cons
PRO: One of the most admirable elements of conventional construction is that it has withstood the test of time and been a dependable way to build some of the most renowned structures on the planet. Materials and labor can also be easily sourced and require less technical components. Ultimately, this method of building has been done and worked well in many ways.
CON: Labor and materials for conventional construction often cost more. Customizations are also cumbersome and must be done after supplies are received. Traditional construction methods don’t optimize materials. This means that you end up with a heavier frame that can eventually compromise the foundation as the building ages and cause structural damage. It also means that there is a significant amount of waste that can be expected at the end of the project.
Although the design process in the conventional construction process is less computer software dependent, it usually takes more time and research to complete. The initial erection of the frame is also a slower process, and unforeseen issues can quickly surface.
Pre-Engineered Buildings (PEBs)
PRO: PEBs save time and money from start to finish. Materials are optimized and can be customized from the beginning. The frame is pieced together with bolted connections and can be erected at a faster pace, which increases the time of delivery significantly. Contemporary designs are also easy to execute, and the optimization of materials results in a lighter frame and saves money.
CON: Very few downsides to PEBs exist. Maintaining the building should be lower in cost than maintaining a conventionally structured building but must still be maintained efficiently to prevent corrosion. Because PEBs are a newer concept, it could be challenging to find a builder with the experience necessary to build a PEB.
The rise of PBEs is a remarkable phenomenon that will shape the future of the construction industry as we know it. The coronavirus pandemic has created an unexpected hurdle that commercial developers are still attempting to overcome. Some construction projects have been severely delayed because of the current health crisis, and massive supply-chain disruptions have restricted accessibility to equipment and materials. The application process for permits and necessary inspections are also causing delays that impact the commercial construction sector.
Safety has always been an important focus in the construction space and will continue to be at the forefront even more in the days to come. Builders are quickly evolving and taking advantage of modern technology tools to forecast, predict, plan, and manage cash reserves more efficiently to eliminate waste. New business models and innovative methods that cultivate more project agility will be a vital part of the modern age of construction, and technology will play a significant role in the rapid transformation that is yet to come.