Modular construction has seen a recent resurgence that doesn’t seem like it will go away anytime soon, especially for family housing. In fact, many large property developers are creating separate manufacturing arms to facilitate modular construction. Real estate companies are looking to produce more of their homes using this method, and investors are funding more such projects.
In light of these developments, you might be wondering whether you should hop on the bandwagon and try modular construction for your next project. Does it offer significant advantages over traditional construction, or it is just another fad that will soon pass? The answer, as it always is with such questions, is that it depends. In this article, we will compare the benefits and costs of modular construction, especially when pitted against traditional construction. By the end, you should have a good idea of whether this is the right method for your next project or not.
First, however, let us distinguish between traditional and modular construction:
Traditional construction, by default, is the tried and true path. We use customary, established, and conventional methods to produce a building. Everything happens in a linear fashion. First, the foundations are laid, then the walls are raised, and the roof placed on top to complete the structure. Work is then done on the interior. Before the official handover, any pending tasks and issues – the so-called snag-list – are taken care of. Only when all of this is done can the project be considered complete.
Modular construction is a lot more compressed, and a lot less linear. While the foundations are being laid, different modules are already being manufactured by skilled personnel at a manufacturing site. This includes everything, from the structure, exterior, and interior to the flooring, plumbing, and electricals. The snag-list will be taken care of at the factory, and the building will be delivered to the construction site in modules.
Traditional and modular construction start out the same. You still need to plan, design, obtain approvals, prepare the site and, of course, develop. From there, however, as demonstrated above, things change.
Advantages of Modular Construction Over Traditional Construction
Modular construction lets you kill two birds with one stone. You can perform on-site preparation and construct the construction modules off-site at the same time. This makes everything significantly faster, with the average modular project taking about 50% of the time it would take if you used traditional construction methods instead. These time savings ultimately translate to cost savings. The client deals with fewer overheads and sees a return on their investment faster.
Less Dependence on the Weather
Most of the construction is carried out in the factory, which means modular projects are less beholden to the weather, unlike traditional ones. Your project is also less vulnerable to vandalism when you opt for modular construction.
Modular construction involves high technology. There is extensive use of advanced machinery and robots to manufacture modular builds, which means less vulnerability to human error. One of the great advantages of these is that a smaller team can handle a modular construction project than a traditional one.
Since the manufacturing process for modular construction projects is subject to more control, as well as the use of precision machinery and methods, the quality is much higher.
Better Quality, Health, and Safety
Since most of the construction is being carried out in the factory, there is more control over the quality, which means the manufacturer can optimize their materials and processes to prioritize health and safety.
Friendlier to the Environment
Modular construction features more energy-efficient builds. Since the building of everything to the exact specifications is possible, there is less waste of material. This process also presents the opportunity to use sustainable materials in the construction process. Also, since there is less travel to and from the construction site, modular construction reduces the overall carbon footprint of the project. In fact, since there is less traffic and activity on the construction site, there is less noise and disruption for the surrounding community.
More Affordable Housing
Modular buildings are cheaper to live in as they cost less to maintain, heat, and repair. They are also highly adaptable, as you can easily expand, repurpose, or even relocate them.
Disadvantages of Modular Construction Over Traditional Construction
Greater Facility Costs
A manufacturing facility involves a steep initial outlay, as well as fixed and variable costs to maintain. Whether the developer has its own manufacturing facility or outsources to a third party, those costs will show up in the final cost of the project and may be much higher than anticipated if there is no proper planning for implementation.
Financing Is Harder to Secure
Modular construction projects are a bit of a wildcard among lenders. The reason is that there is not still a wide adoption of this style of construction that may involve hidden risks. As a result, financing for such projects typically comes at higher interest rates. Most developers using modular construction in their projects are new in the market, and have higher bankruptcy risk than more traditional developers, making banks wary of them.
Modular builds come in their complete size and complexity, ready for installation. That means that there should be careful planning beforehand to make sure there is sufficient access for the delivery of builds to the site. Both the site and the approaching roads should be capable of receiving the builds.
Less Flexibility with Design Changes
Since traditional construction is normally in a linear fashion, it is flexible to late changes to the design. It is even reversible, albeit it might end up driving the final cost through the roof. Modular construction does not share the same flexibility. The manufacturing of builds is according to exact specifications. Therefore, changing the design means entirely new builds have to be manufactured. Therefore, clients can finalize and sign off the designs for modular projects much sooner than for traditional projects.
More Planning Involved
Assembling modular builds to specification means less room for error and higher expectations for quality. Per the previous discussion, finalizing a design using modular construction takes less time compared to traditional projects. This places a lot of pressure on the development team to carry out rigorous planning, in the beginning, to avoid running costs way beyond budget.
So should you go for modular construction? To reiterate what we said at the beginning, it depends. Consider the pros and cons and weigh them against your own project needs and budget. If you can’t choose, you might want to try a combined approach, where clearer parts of the design employ a modular approach, while the less clear ones use the traditional approach for greater flexibility.
Tiffany Harper is a training guru who’s been working in the corporate sector as a technology expert for several years now. She is a management graduate and loves to share her experience through blogs and expert articles. For her love of writing, sometimes she provides online consultations for one essay writer and genuine essay writing service while working with bestessays.com.au. Please do not hesitate to contact her on Twitter.