Do I Need a Temporary Building or a Portable Building?

Before you can answer that question, you need to know the difference between the two:

Temporary buildings are the terminology used to describe large, clear span aluminium structures, typically used for industrial or commercial applications such as warehousing, manufacturing or retail.

Portable buildings, is a term that is generally used to describe modular structures provided by Portakabin, or similar and more likely to be used for offices or classrooms.

Confusion can often arise, however, as both structures are portable and both are temporary – i.e. can be hired or purchased.

Secondly the uses of these two types of structure, the manufacturing and installation methods differ significantly. Temporary buildings consist of an aluminium frame, which comes in 5 metre modules. Spans go up to 30m; length is unlimited and heights range from 3m to 6m, with the roof being an apex design. The first stage of installation for these structures is to create anchorage points in the ground which the frame is then anchored down to. The frame is then erected module by module with the wall and roof systems put in place, but only when the frame is fully erected. One of the major advantages of these structures is the unique method of installation. On level hard-standing no ground preparation is required creating huge savings in time and money.

Portable buildings are manufactured off-site with each modular unit being fully fitted out with electrics, heating and internal finishes prior to being transported to site and craned into position. Additional modular units are then added to create the overall required floor space. Although the off-site manufacturing method and installation process does create quick build times, customers do need to prepare the ground prior to installation.

Temporary buildings are a phrase that is derived from the ability to hire these structures and the unique installation method. The amazingly quick (just days for a standard structure) and non-disruption build process of anchoring buildings down to existing level hard standing, means buildings can be easily dismantled, returned or relocated with little evidence of their every existence. Businesses that choose to use a temporary building can quickly and simply expand and contract their operational space at the drop of a hat, with minimal investment and maximum return – a ‘win win’ in today’s economic climate!

Although this installation process is a major advantage of temporary buildings, it can lead to misconceptions about quality and a comparison to marquee structures. Temporary buildings, however, do meet the required structural engineering standards for Building Regulations and can be in continual use, from 3 months to 10+ years. Marquees however, are only for short term use as, unlike temporary buildings, they are not engineered to meet the required standards for snow and wind loadings.

In summary, the key reason to choose a temporary building or a portable building is primarily the intended use. Temporary buildings are far more suitable for industrial applications or uses that require large, clear spans such as a supermarket. Although ideal for a temporary requirement, such as a refurbishment project or a large new contract; temporary building can be used on a more permanent basis and do come with a ten year guarantee. Portable buildings provide much better solutions for public facilities such as classrooms, offices, construction site accommodation and toilets. Both types of building, however, are unbeatable when it comes to speed, allowing businesses to achieve a far quicker and better return on investment than if they opted for a traditional permanent building.