Why Is Modular A Growing Trend In Construction?

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Why Is Modular A Growing Trend In Construction?
Unfortunately, the past year has put pressure on all industries, including the construction sector, with contractors trying to keep up with project timelines while protecting their workers at the job site.  Looking to increase their overall efficiency and keep up with looming deadlines, many firms have turned to modular construction to help meet these needs.  Before the pandemic, modular methods had been steadily increasing in popularity.  However, the controlled construction method has seen increased adoption due to COVID and may be sweeping the construction industry sooner than previously expected… 

For context, the modular construction method grew from a shortage of skilled labor as far back as the 1600s. Colonists wanted to ensure they would be living in quality homes whenever they started their new lives overseas. Therefore, they pre-manufactured homes which they could easily assemble once they arrive. Today, architects, general contractors, and engineers are looking towards modular construction for similar reasons (and more) to help improve the current landscape of the construction industry.  
Why Are More Firms Turning To Modular Construction?

Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket Report “Prefabrication and Modular Construction 2020” (compiled pre-COVID) states,

“Design firms and contractors agree that both prefabrication and modular construction are providing significant improvements to cost, schedule, quality and safety performance, productivity, client satisfaction and their ability to reduce waste.”

Dodge’s report surveyed construction architects and contractors from across the United States and found that the benefit most commonly associated with modular construction is “Improved Productivity,” with 93% of respondents reporting medium to very high positive results.  Additionally, measurable benefits were reported in overall quality, schedule certainty, cost predictability, waste reduction, client satisfaction, and safety performance.  More than 83% of respondents reported seeing each of these benefits. 

In the survey, design firms and contractors selected among five distinct drivers for future use of modular construction.  These are the “most compelling benefits” that would potentially cause them to implement modular construction within the next three years.  The overwhelming majority of respondents selected “Improves Project Schedule Performance” at 97%  seeing the benefit as a driving factor. Further, 81% cited lower construction costs, and 72% selected improved building quality as an important driver.

What Factors Are Inhibiting The Use of Modular Construction? 

According to the report, the main obstacle facing the modular construction industry is simply “owner interest,” with ~50% of respondents citing it as a barrier.   The construction market as a whole is risky and often unpredictable.  It seems many firms have not been willing to adopt new modular techniques as they may assume the unfamiliar process would further add to these risks.  However, as Dodge notes, ideally “this will change as more owners become familiar with the modular process and comfortable with its results.”

With the COVID pandemic, many companies have turned to modular construction to meet changing needs, not just in the construction industry but in the workplace.  COVID testing areas, office reconfigurations, temperature screening stations: these structures have all become great applications for modular construction thanks to fast project times and minimal on-site disruption. 

These temporary, pre-manufactured solutions have been implemented in businesses, campuses, and public spaces all across the United States and allowed for quick, effective changes in these locations. With companies, construction firms, and the general population becoming more familiar with modular structures, hopefully, owners will not only increase their overall interest in modular construction but will prefer it to stick-built. 

Panel Built, Inc. is a modular construction provider, serving the industry for the past 25 years.  Founded by brothers Mike & Pat Kiernan, Panel Built began as a manufacturer of panelized, pre-manufactured buildings.  Today, Panel Built designs, engineers, fabricates, and installs a wide range of modular structures, including modular offices, steel mezzanines, cleanrooms, guard booths, ballistic-rated buildings, prefabricated shelters, canopies, and more.  With each project, Panel Built’s mission is “To Solve Our Customers’ Space Needs With Excellence And Great Customer Service.”