Modular Building – The Way Forward?
Off site construction, or modular building, is becoming more popular, particularly in suiting the needs of the healthcare and education industries. Suitable for both temporary and permanent structures, modular building is unaffected by many of the difficulties that face standard building techniques.
More than that, though, it is a much friendlier method of construction, creating much less noise and disruption to the site and surrounding area. It does face its own challenge of overcoming the prejudice that is still common amongst home buyers against ‘pre-fabs’, but with recent and future developments resulting in houses that can be indistinguishable from ones built on site, these challenges will be overcome.
Differences with standard construction
Where conventional construction methods face difficulties overcoming site restrictions and the unpredictability of the weather, in modular building much of the work is done inside the factory so only minimal site access is needed and the weather isn’t a consideration. The construction of the buildings can happen alongside the site work as it mostly happens off site, meaning the build is finished sooner than a conventional build would be.
There is less risk of delays due to lack of materials as they can have more than they need for any individual building and any unused supplies will simply be used on the next project. In fact, there is much less waste overall, and less negative impact on the environment due to fewer deliveries and it being easier to build a modular building with an ‘A’ rating for energy performance.
There are many other advantages of off site construction over standard construction methods. The ability to negotiate heavy discounts from suppliers for bulk buying helps make modular building a more affordable option. As many of the parts are the same (although they can be assembled in many different ways), repetition makes the construction process faster and more accurate. Fewer deliveries and less time spent on site, also has benefits for the current occupants and local residents as there is less noise from both lorries and building work, and less traffic to disrupt their daily lives.
Many people still think the prefab huts of the 50s when they hear the term modular building, and flimsy, draughty, temporary structures are not what homebuyers are looking for! Even when people know that modular building has come a long way, they often still view it as only appropriate for functional buildings like schools and hospitals.
Overcoming these prejudices is the challenge that modular building companies are now facing. As money is tight, developers are looking outside of the box for methods of building high quality, affordable homes, and off site construction is slowly becoming more acceptable in the mainstream. The demand is growing for environmentally friendly buildings and construction, and modular building is perfectly designed for achieving that.
By exploiting the structural efficiency of modular building styles, and maximising the land’s developable potential, a range of sizes and styles of homes can be produced. Not only is there a variety of options for potential home owners to choose from, the modules can be adapted, and extended depending on the occupants’ changing needs throughout the life of the building.
Going forward, modular building is likely to become more commonly chosen for homes as well as official buildings, as affordability becomes crucial in allowing people to get on the housing ladder.