Construction Process, General Contracting, Industrial

Modular construction can be very effective and beneficial in today's structural projects.

So, What is Modular Construction?

Modular construction is the process of building parts of a structure, or the entire construction, away from the job site—in a controlled indoor environment (an off-site manufacturing plant). The building is then brought to the job site, completed and ready for the finishing touches needed for full implementation. 

Typically, these “modules” are between 8 and 16 feet wide, with the sections’ lengths ranging from 20 to over 70 feet long. These structures can be used for both temporary and permanent construction projects, and will still be able to match the aesthetics of the overall design.

Who is Using This Process?

About 35% of U.S. contractors use these techniques during their construction processes, and that number is expected to grow. Today, the modular construction market stands at about $112.4 billion, but is projected to reach $157 billion by 2023 (a 6.9% increase). 

How Does Worker Experience Change?

Primarily, working outdoors to construct a building or its subparts can lead to an inconvenient, uncomfortable, and potentially unsafe experience when being exposed to the elements. Many parts of construction require a steady hand, and when dealing with wet, muddy, or cold water, this presents new challenges for your crew that aren’t at play with modular construction.

Are These Structures Durable and Safe?

When it comes to product quality, modular construction provides many advantages. By being built indoors and avoiding bad weather, better air quality ensures the materials will remain moisture-free. Since these projects also have to withstand transportation, they are generally built to be stronger and more structurally sound.

And the market isn’t the only thing that’s growing as far as modular construction is concerned. These projects have been reaching new heights—literally. Construction Dive recently discussed a company called Prescient, and how their modular construction projects topped out at five stories in 2015, but are now reaching up to 18. The square footage of their projects has grown tremendously as well, at 60,000 in 2015 to 200,000 today.

Will This Increase ROI?

Additionally, the timeline of a construction project when completed through this process is significantly faster than traditional methods, estimated between 30-50% quicker. With modular construction, your team is able to develop the site and lay the foundation at the same time the structure is being built, doubling your productivity during this time period. Not to mention, weather delays won’t be pushing back your plant construction timeline.

Is This a Type of Green Construction?

Absolutely. This process produces much less waste than on-the-jobsite construction methods. Materials are optimized and kept safe from exposure to the inclement weather at outdoor environments. Also, companies can reuse the project’s materials for different needs by disassembling or relocating these structures, instead of disposing of materials in good condition and starting again with new.

What Type of Maintenance is Involved?

For modular construction buildings in particular, Vanguard has outlined these steps to maintain great condition:

  • Change HVAC filters at least once per month, and change them more frequently if you’re in a dirty environment
  • Never block a return air register and clean ducts as needed
  • Report any leaks resulting from plumbing or rainwater immediately
  • Inspect the roof periodically for visible tears, cracks or loose shingles. Clean the roof and gutters of debris, and remove snow to prevent leaks
  • Maintain adequate stormwater drainage away from the building
  • Maintain floor coverings
  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors/emergency exit lights once a year at the very least
  • Operate the air conditioning during evening, holidays and weekends to maintain a reasonable temperature and humidity level
  • Periodically check caulking around windows, doors, and siding

What Materials Are Used?

Since the buildings have to undergo the same inspections and have to meet the same building codes as any other structure(regardless of construction method), the same top quality materials that you would see used in a conventionally constructed building are available. 

Typically, the base frames are structural steel, while the walls and ceiling are made of either wood or steel and concrete. It all depends on the requirements at the job site.

Galbraith’s Contribution

We’re proud to say we offer modular construction services to our clients. We’ve developed a history of pre-fabricating different parts indoors before delivering them to a jobsite. Check out how we recently used this process for a cold storage industrial job. Get in touch with us today to start designing your next project!