5 Sep 2013
Why Modular Buildings Are the Future of Construction
A modular building is a construction method that requires pieces or portions of the structure to be prefabricated then put all together at one time. Modular structures, also known as prefabricated buildings, are made up of several box-shaped sections that are made in a facility and then transported to their intended location for assembly and use. The modules are then placed on a foundation using a crane and joined to create a single structure. Module construction is more flexible than it sounds—modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked on top of one another to creative multiple stories. Most importantly, the design of the modular structure is carefully laid out beforehand in order to perfectly meet the customers’ specifications, so even though the modules are prebuilt, they fit together in unique ways to make a different structure each and every time. These structures can serve any number of purposes; modular structures can be used temporarily as well as permanently to serve as offices, classrooms, administrative buildings, industrial facilities, housing, and more.
History of Modular Buildings and Homes
The use of prefabrication in mainstream construction began more than a century ago and began coming to popularity early in the 20th century. Sears Roebuck Co. sold many of the earliest pre-built modular homes, with estimates of their sales from 1910 to 1940 ranging from 75,000 to 500,000 units. Many different styles of home could be purchased, ranging in price from $700 to $4000 as listed in the Sears catalog, which also included home-building kits that could be purchased and assembled by the consumer. These models of prefabricated homes became so popular because they allowed for people who lived in the middle of nowhere to attain quality made and well-designed buildings, instead of settling for whatever construction group was nearby. Modular construction gave quality buildings to the masses.
Although the Great Depression had a large impact on the still-growing industry of modular buildings, they bounced back quickly after World War II due to their efficiency and low cost. For soldiers returning home from war looking to settle down, and families who were recovering from the financial devastation of the Depression, modular homes were a perfect and inexpensive solution. From the late 1950s and onwards, modular building began to be used for the construction of schools, businesses, and medical facilities in addition to residences. Modular construction became popular in these sectors because these sectors have a lot of rooms that are used for similar purposes. Schools have many classrooms, businesses have many offices, and Medical facilities have many patient rooms. Because of all of these repeating, identical rooms, modular construction can take advantage of economies of scale and mass produce these rooms, lowering the cost and just putting them together like puzzle pieces to create a massive building, piece by piece.
Today, modular structures serve a wide variety of purposes and are far more sophisticated in design than their earlier counterparts. With the improved technology, construction, and transportation that were developed over the past century, modern modular structures tend to be much larger, more complex, and more flexible. In fact, modular construction is used to make everything from 4ft by 4ft guard houses that go in front of facility gates to skyscrapers that are tens of stories tall. The use of these high-tech modules has been likened to using Lego to building a tower one piece at a time.
The Benefits of Modular Construction
Structures made of prefabricated modules today are often considered the face of the future. Now, widely in use by many different business sectors, a modular building offers a number of attractive options that make it an ideal construction method. With the nearly limitless number of designs available as well as the ability to have custom-designed modular buildings, today’s models include state-of-the-art technology and environmentally friendly and efficient designs. Structures to nearly any specification can be made out of modules, serving almost every purpose imaginable; this convenience and efficiency, in combination with its low cost, makes modular building one of the leading construction solutions for today’s businesses.
Materials that are used in construction are made, stored, and assembled in a factory setting, also making modular building safer for workers on job sites as well. Traditional stick-built structures always risk exposure to and damage from mold, rust, and environmental hazards that can affect the integrity of the building and even make people sick. Sun and moisture can both affect materials and structures during construction, leading to potential respiratory problems in humans and possibly degradation of the structure as well.Modern modular offices are clean, comfortable, and well-lit—ideal for workspaces, break rooms, storage, and much more. Because construction and assembly are much faster and cheaper for modules, this makes it an inexpensive option with very few drawbacks. Construction, maintenance, and use of modular offices are far more efficient and energy-efficient than that of traditional structures and tends to be more environmentally friendly as well. Additional units and stories can be added at any time, also easing the difficulty of expansion or addition. Read more about how modular buildings are an ideal solution for offices.
The Future of Modular Building
The unmatched functionality, convenience, and low cost of modular construction foretell its continually growing success. Now available for extensive customization and specialized design, a modular building can serve almost any purpose and will benefit any growing business or organization. Although modular building began as a way of constructing homes, it has since become increasingly in demand for business purposes due to its cost effectiveness and numerous potential benefits.
The ever-increasing success of modular buildings is due in part to the sophistication and high quality that modern construction allows. These qualities continue to develop and improve as time goes on, chipping away at the popularity gap between traditionally built structures and prefabricated buildings. As technology, architectural design, and construction continue to evolve, they already have made great strides towards the superiority of modular buildings, demonstrating the massively beneficial functionality of prefabrication that predicts the continued and increasing success of modular building. Only time will tell just how much these structures will grow and flourish for business and homeowners of today.