What Is Modular Construction?25 August 2022
Modular construction is a modern type of construction that uses prefabricated modules or prefabricated containers. These are made of light steel and insulated sandwich panels. Their combination enables creation of a modular building on or over several levels. Today, this type of modular construction can be found in a large number of situations and arrangements. This is particularly true for construction sites, schools and offices. The mission of a prefabricated construction manufacturer is to provide a varied choice of such temporary or durable buildings depending on the customer’s needs.
A distinction can be made between two types of modular construction: single-piece modular construction and kit (disassembled) modular construction.
WHAT IS PREASSEMBLED MODULAR CONSTRUCTION?
One option is preassembled or welded modular construction. In this case, the modules are pre-assembled in the factory. These arrive already assembled on site for increased convenience. All you have to do is install the building and connect the elements together to create a modular building. Uses can be multiple, from a accommodation area to an office to a locker room or school. The main advantage of this type of modular building is that labour costs are reduced. However, transport costs remain particularly high, as the modules arrive already assembled on site. Transport for this type of solution requires a large number of shipping containers or trucks within the framework of sea, land or even hybrid transport.
WHAT IS MODULAR FLATPACK CONSTRUCTION?
Another option is modular bolted construction. It is delivered in flatpacked (demounted) form. This is a major difference compared to the first type, as it means that the elements must be pre-assembled on site. They are then juxtaposed or stacked to form a modular building ready for use on site. Manufacturers of prefabricated construction that use this alternative highlight lower transportation costs and greater transport control as its chief advantage. Some modular construction manufacturers are able to load up to ten 20-foot modules (15 square metres total) into a single 40-foot shipping container. This is truly optimised transport with real savings in transport costs. However, compared to the above-mentioned single-piece modular construction, the assembly and handling time is considerably longer. As an indication, it is estimated that single-piece modular construction is about 30% more expensive than prefabricated construction delivered in kit form.
Flatpack or Preassembled: which type of modular construction should you choose?
The choice depends on economic, logistical and time management factors. Each customer has different priorities. There is therefore no solution that is objectively better than the other. Therefore, for projects where transportation is to be carried out mostly or exclusively by sea, modular construction delivered as a flatpack is preferred. This avoids high transportation costs. If the modular construction manufacturer is particularly close to the delivery site, the customer can opt for preassembled modular construction. The difference in transportation costs between the two options is minimal, so it is best to choose the more practical option in terms of assembly and handling. The urgency of the project to be completed must also be considered. Have a school to open soon? A building site to be turned around? A housing crisis that needs to be addressed? In these cases, and many others, urgency necessitates preassembled modular construction of the welded type.
What are the advantages of modular construction?
Let’s finish with the advantages of modular construction compared to traditional concrete construction solutions. First of all, prefabricated modular construction, regardless of type, offers a significantly lower cost than traditional concrete construction. In addition, assembly is relatively fast. In the best case, everything is already assembled, or everything arrives ready to be installed on the construction site or area. Contrary to popular belief, the insulation performance of a modular building is actually as good as that of a traditional building. In addition, this modern system is designed to be mobile, which allows for quick disassembly. Regarding solidity and resistance, there is also anti-hurricane and anti-seismic protection, which makes it a universal solution. More than an economic choice, it is above all a robust option made to last. This is why solid structures resist corrosion. They can rely on the presence of highly galvanized steel and the use of anti-corrosive paint to achieve this goal. There is a wide range of possible layouts to meet the project architect’s specifications. Aesthetically, there is the same diversity: a wide choice of paints and exterior cladding for all preferences and requirements. This makes prefabricated modular construction a versatile choice, suitable for both temporary and long-term projects. Whatever the reason for the customer’s choice, the prefabricated construction manufacturer can assure you that it is always an environmentally friendly option. Indeed, the use of cement and concrete is only for light foundations. As for the building, it is entirely recyclable.