Modular building on industrial site.

Modular buildings — also known as prefabricated, or prefab, buildings — are prefabricated in multiple pieces off-site before being assembled on-site. These structures consist of repeated sections known as “modules” that, when assembled end-to-end, side-by-side, or even stacked on top of one another, reflect the sophisticated architecture you would find in standard construction sites. These versatile structures can be integrated into existing buildings as add-on sections and can also exist as standalone — even permanent — structures.

Modular construction serves as a versatile, lean building method; modules are created off-site in a quality-controlled plant before delivery to the final building site for installation. This process offers significant time and cost savings over traditional construction techniques. In fact, some prefab modules are able to be created in as few as ten days, although most take up to several weeks. Final on-site installation time can range from a few hours to several days depending on the complexity of the structure.

Modular construction makes use of all the same materials, architectural specifications, and building codes as traditional construction, but its factory-controlled conditions require less labor and result in reduced material waste, fewer site disruptions, and less air pollution.

Common Uses for Modular Buildings

Modular construction is steadily rising in popularity across all types of industries thanks the widespread design possibilities offered. Below are five of the most popular applications for modular buildings today.

Medical

Modular buildings are completely capable of meeting the stringent sanitation specifications of the medical field. These structures can be added onto existing buildings to enhance patient capacity and can be easily installed in remote locations and developing countries that may not otherwise have access to the proper level of care. This makes modular buildings ideal for settings such as refugee camps, military bases, and disaster relief centers.

Laboratories, clean rooms, and clinics can be quickly built and installed with customized features such as piping and ventilation for clean air and water, load-bearing floors for heavy equipment, special workstations for testing, and soundproofing for patient privacy. These facilities can also be easily removed when no longer needed.

Industrial

Commercial and industrial modular office complexes can be built with any type of interior or exterior to seamlessly blend into an existing building or can exist as a standalone structure. Prefab buildings can be temporary, semi-temporary, or permanent, and can be easily reconfigured or expanded over time as needed.

Common applications for these types of modular buildings include interim offices, administrative buildings, remote sales locations, and conference rooms. Additional uses for construction sites and manufacturing facilities include restrooms, pump houses, and motor control centers.

Education

Modular buildings are an ideal solution for rapidly growing school districts with increasing enrollment and limited space and can be used as permanent classrooms. Prefab structures can also be employed as temporary solutions while permanent facilities are being built.

Classrooms and daycare centers can be fully customized with ramps and entryways to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and can be outfitted with specialized features such as wiring for video and audio projectors, computer equipment, cabinets and workstations for lab work, lockers, noise-reducing ceiling tiles, and soundproofing.

Housing

Today’s modular homes are nothing like they used to be. In late 2016, 461 Dean Street, a 32-story luxury apartment building in Brooklyn, became the world’s tallest modular residence. Consisting of 363 individual prefab apartment units, the tower showcases just how far modular design has come — and the time and money it can save developers.

In rural and suburban areas, modular construction can be used to create turnkey homes that easily meet federal, state, and local building codes. These customized designs offer buyers huge cost and time savings, as well as a hands-on role in the construction process, with the ability to select desired floor plans, building materials, and special features such as carpeting and amenities.

Security

Prefabricated buildings offer convenient, immediate solutions for various security applications, including guardhouses, dispatch offices, and scale houses used to monitor traffic and highway weigh stations. These structures are OSHA-compliant and can be customized to be both blast-resistant and bulletproof, offering maximum protection for officers and other personnel.

Additional security features — including tempered glass, intercom systems, drive-up transaction windows, and even access ports for weapon firing — can all be easily integrated into modular structures.

The Versatility of Modular Construction

Versatile and reliable, modular construction offers countless design and feature options that can be built on demand in a fraction of the time required for traditional construction. Before you embark on your next project, consider whether modular construction could fulfill your unique building requirements. You may be able to save significantly on both time and money — without sacrificing the quality and reliability offered by traditional construction methods.

by Staff Writer at Thomas