Automation doesn’t have to be a dirty word -- especially when it comes to construction. Despite periodic resistance from technophobes, assembly lines and automation processes have been steadily improving the way we produce and consume for over one hundred years. In the same way standardization and robotics transformed how we manufacture the automobile, modular construction is looking to reduce the time, energy and cost restraints which have long capped the efficiency of traditional building practices. As housing shortages inflate prices worldwide and put pressure on contractors to implement better solutions, recent initiatives in prefabricated construction have successfully demonstrated new frameworks for answering today’s demand and validated the viability of modular systems in the market.
Although modular construction has the potential to shake up the industry in big ways, the advantages of this process are not well understood by the public, particularly in the United States. This gap between the potential of modular construction and popular perception has resulted in hampered enthusiasm and slower implementation relative to other nations. Experts expect this to change in coming years as more people are exposed to modern prefabricated buildings and the ways their adoption can positively impact the North American construction industry. For buyers and contractors looking for clarification on these advantages, we’ve provided some of the top benefits you can expect if you make the switch to modular construction.
There are numerous factors which affect the timeliness of construction projects: logistics, equipment condition, weather, etc. One of the benefits of modular construction is that the majority of the building process occurs in a controlled environment off-site, meaning that many of the risks which apply to traditional construction projects are eliminated outright. For instance, since the majority of modular construction happens indoors, you no longer have to worry about shutting a project down for days at a time due to unexpected rainstorms, or the damage such a storm might cause to essential machinery. Less downtime equals faster completion rates.
This advantage carries over to on-site activity as well. Since the majority of labor-intensive work has been completed before materials ever make it to the jobsite, workers simply have to link large sections of a prefabricated structure together instead of relying on skilled experts to collect, craft, and assemble individual components piece by piece. This helps to further reduce construction times from what would take weeks or months to mere hours. In places where modular construction is well-established, like Japan, construction times are often reduced by as much as 50%.
2. Quality Control
Due to the centralized, controlled building environments that define the modular construction process, materials are closely examined and controlled for quality before leaving the factory. This ensures both uniformity in material quality and the highest degree of precision during construction. While many property owners still hold the perception that prefabricated buildings use cheaper, lower quality materials, structures built by modular construction can be every bit as durable and impressive as a traditionally built home, apartment, hotel or office building.
In addition, this aspect of modular construction further removes the chance of material damage, theft and imperfections that can inflate costs or cause setbacks on your project. Instead of bringing raw material on site to be fashioned together by teams of craftsmen, building exteriors leave the factory weatherproof and ready to go in their final state. This way, contractors can be confident their materials will retain the highest quality from the factory floor all the way through to the finished product.
Modular construction also reduces the amount of energy and materials that are required to complete structures. Unlike traditional construction jobs, contractors have the ability to pre-allocate resources and carefully organize the production process, leading to less material waste overall.
Since materials used in prefabricated construction are kept indoors and away from the elements, they are also more easily recyclable. Materials which would have been otherwise thrown away on a normal construction project can be saved and reused on future jobs, or sold for profit. In this sense, by micromanaging your workflow in a controlled environment, you’re much less likely to end up with piles of leftover, unusable resources or make mistakes that require costly overhauls. This makes modular construction better for your bottom line and the environment.
4. Minimal Impact
Another merit of modular construction is that it limits the impact a project may have on a jobsite and/or surrounding areas. While the majority of the process is occurring away at the factory, businesses and homeowners can operate as normal due to noise, traffic and heavy equipment interferences being kept to a minimum. Likewise, any closures that may occur during physical on-site assembly are brief, meaning businesses can reopen sooner and get back to generating revenue or serving the community. On top of this being positive for the neighborhood, modular construction’s minimal impact could become an important competitive advantage for contractors specializing in urban areas.
The most important advantage that modular construction has over traditional construction methods is its effect on cost. The cumulative effect of modular construction’s best features is that they work together to reduce prices for both builders and buyers. As we’ve mentioned, those going with modular construction should see a reduction in all around shorter construction times and the amount of manpower and expensive equipment required, which leads to less overhead on the logistics end. The design side of the construction process is often brought in-house as well, bringing the entire operation under one roof to further reduce cost. Since modularly constructed structures use detailed models and standardized amounts of materials, professionals can be sure to mitigate risk from wasting resources, labor and capital unnecessarily, the benefits of which are passed down to the customer through 10-20% in savings.
As a faster, cheaper and more efficient construction solution, now you know why modular construction is primed to make moves in the industry over the coming years and its most important advantages, which will help it to earn greater market share.