Why Is Modular Construction on the Rise?

Why Is Modular Construction on the Rise?

March 18, 2024
Why Is Modular Construction on the Rise?

The modular construction market reached $84.48 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow to $131.58 billion by 2030. This reflects the increased demand for modular buildings by customers along with an increase in modular enterprises to keep up with growing demand. Many people agree that the future of office buildings is modular. 

Several factors are driving the modular trend and changing how people assemble buildings; however, this option isn’t ideal for every construction project. Learn why more people are opting for modular construction along with the benefits and drawbacks that come with it.  

What Is Modular Construction? 

Modular construction is the process of assembling buildings in a dedicated factory or workspace and delivering a nearly completed product to the customer’s plot of land, where the final assembly occurs. This is different from traditional construction methods where every aspect of the building process occurs on-site. 

The percentage of work done off-site varies by company and development plan. Some modular brands say up to 95% of work is completed off-site while others provide an off-site range of 60-90%.

Modular buildings vary in size, construction, and design. If you are working with a modular construction company, you can decide whether you want a wood-framed building or a design that uses concrete and steel instead.

In most cases, modular buildings are not mobile buildings. They are different from trailers and mobile homes. You will need to lay a stable foundation and connect the building to existing plumbing and electrical infrastructure once it arrives.    

What Are the Benefits of Modular Construction? 

The modular construction industry continues to grow because this is a simpler option for many people and businesses who need new properties. From residential homes to businesses, modular designs are simpler and safer. Here are a few reasons to consider modular construction for your next project. 

Reduced Waste

Construction requires estimation and careful calculation to understand the amount of materials needed for each project. If the builder orders too much material or the wrong kind, it can go to waste. Modular homes produce less waste for multiple reasons:

This efficiency can make modular buildings more resilient in the face of climate change’s impact on the construction industry. Developers can do more with less while cutting back on their CO2 emissions and overall carbon footprint. 

Shorter Project Timelines 

Every construction project comes with an estimated timeline. Companies that opt for modular buildings can complete the work in shorter periods with greater confidence levels that the project will be completed on time. 

While the building itself is under construction, on-site contractors can prepare the space for the building. They can lay the foundation, establish electrical connections, and handle any plumbing work. Once the building parts are delivered, the structure can be assembled and the construction process will be complete. 

These projects are also faster because factory work moves faster. McKinsey estimates that modular construction can speed up building timelines by 20 to 50% while cutting costs by up to 20%. 

Minimal Weather Risk

Weather is one of the biggest issues with traditional construction. A rainy spring can delay a project for weeks if the workers can’t lay a concrete foundation or paint the exterior because of rain, sleet, or snow. Even indoor projects like installing drywall and placing flooring can be delayed due to bad weather. Hot, dry climates can also have weather delays as workers need to take more breaks for their safety. 

This isn’t an issue for indoor, climate-controlled factories. Employees can keep working even when it’s raining outside. Modular construction is seen as less of a risk because you don’t have to worry about natural elements when setting your timeline. 

Safer Job Sites 

Modular projects are also safe because most of the employees constructing the buildings are working in a secure factory until the parts are delivered to the job site where they’re assembled. Managers can mitigate risk and create safe working conditions. Team members can also receive training from their employers on safe practices. 

On-site construction sites can be safe as well, but they come with more risks. When the workers are putting the pieces of the modular buildings together, they have to contend with weather, traffic hazards, and other issues. These add additional considerations that construction teams need to keep in mind to stay safe. 

What Are the Challenges of Modular Construction?

Despite the benefits of modular systems, there are significant drawbacks that can impact whether you decide to move forward with this building design style. Here are a few challenges to keep in mind as you look over modular projects. 

Lack of Variety 

One of the biggest criticisms of modular design is that it is boring. You are buying a building that looks like countless other construction projects because it was designed that way. Modular companies usually design a few models and produce the same designs for every client. This might not be the best option if you have specific needs for your building or want a design style that stands out. 

As you meet with different modular design firms, ask about your customization options. Also, know that once the construction process is complete, you can modify it as much as you want to match your needs. 

Front-Loaded Design

While the modular design firm can handle the building construction itself, you will still need to work with various industry professionals to prepare the land for your building. The modular building design process requires architects, engineers, and contractors to make important upfront decisions regarding design and procurement. There are still pre-planning steps, assembly requirements, and post-building design factors to keep in mind. 

Look into tools and resources to streamline this process. Construction takeoff software can help you estimate your materials needs and better manage the project. These software tools for contractors are essential for keeping projects on schedule and within budget.  

Transportation Risk 

Once the various sections of a modular building are completed in a factory, they need to be moved to the job site. This is one of the most challenging parts. The building parts are large and unwieldy, which makes them dangerous on the roads. Transportation can also take time if the modular factory is located far from the client’s target location. 

While it is usually the modular company’s job to safely deliver the building pieces so they can be assembled, and most firms have extensive experience handling the task, this is one of the riskiest parts of the entire project.

Difficult Approval Process 

Finally, it can be hard to navigate the approval and inspection processes required by your state or county when you opt for a modular building. Some regions have step-by-step requirements for inspections, which means you need to get approval that one part is complete before moving on to the next one. With a modular building, all parts are delivered at once, with each element complete. 

Processes vary by jurisdiction and many counties have dealt with modular homes before. Work with people who understand this process so you don’t get caught up in inspection rules that don’t apply to you.  

The Continued Growth of Modular Construction  

Despite the potential drawbacks, the modular construction industry will keep growing in the coming years. Innovative companies are already working to overcome the concerns that customers have by offering better design options and safer transportation practices. Furthermore, several macroeconomic trends will drive modular demand. Here are just a few: 

Modular design won’t replace every building construction project in the future, but it will provide a safe, low-risk solution for several business owners and homeowners. For many people, the potential benefits outweigh any risks that come with choosing the modular route.

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