Modular construction is gaining popularity in the past few years. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report stated that 67 percent of contractors believe the demand for this type of construction will significantly increase even more in the coming years.
Modular construction has many benefits such as increased onsite efficiency, improved labor productivity, improved safety, and lower construction costs.
On top of these benefits, modular construction is also environmentally sustainable which opens up great opportunities for more responsible use of building materials and more eco-friendly designs.
Understanding Modular Construction
What is modular construction? Modular construction is a process where buildings, houses, and other structures are prefabricated in an off-site factory setting instead of constructing everything on the site.
The process involves creating a building in smaller units called modules, thus the name “modular construction”, which will later be transported and assembled on its designated construction site.
Here is the general flow of the process:
Building the modules in the factory.
Modular construction companies normally use assembly-line systems and construction technology to build modules for the structure. This approach results in an efficient and standard process.
Since they use precise modeling and construction in the factory, the need for change orders, revisions, and adjustments are greatly reduced.
Creating and installing details to the modules.
Before the modules leave the factory, details like walls, floors, roofs, doors, and windows are all built and installed. Plumbing, ductwork, and wirings are also added to them as well.
Modules are transported to the building site.
Once the modules are ready, they are transported to the site on flatbed trucks. There are many types of construction equipment in traditional construction such as hoists, lifts, cranes, etc.
However, modular construction normally makes use of cranes to set the modules in place onto a pre-set foundation.
Modules are finalized and fitted together.
Construction employees will fit the modules together creating a unified building. Modular construction can be completed up to 50% faster than traditional buildings.
How is Modular Construction Environmental-Friendly?
Modular construction offers benefits like worker safety, and site and cost-efficiency, but there’s more. Modular construction comes with an impressive set of environmental benefits.
It decreases construction wastes.
Modules are prepared simultaneously in a factory setting which creates an opportunity to reuse “discarded” materials for other projects.
The traditional construction method generates around 56 million tons of wastes every year and reducing this amount is a huge leap to helping the environment.
It uses recycled materials.
There is an issue with the rising cost of construction materials due to environmental regulations and tariffs. Fortunately, modular construction uses a variety of sustainable and recycled materials such as wood, steel, and aluminum.
It helps reduce carbon emissions.
A United Nations report states that 39 percent of global carbon emissions result from the construction industry. Most of these carbon emissions come from inefficient transportation of labor, construction equipment, and materials.
Since modular construction builds all the modules in a factory setting, the overall transportation needs are reduced, reducing total deliveries to building sites by 90 percent which is good for the environment.
It uses eco-friendly fixtures and finishes.
Most modular designs include eco-friendly features including dimmable LED lighting, solar water heaters, occupancy sensors, batteries for energy storage, triple-paned windows, and electric carports.
Environmentally sustainable design features using materials with no volatile organic compounds and includes natural airflow technology that is healthier for humans and the planet.
It produces lasting, reusable structures.
Modular construction designs are resilient and lasting, which are also qualities of many traditional buildings. However, modular buildings can be disassembled with ease compared to traditional buildings.
Modular buildings can be reused in other locations, redesigned for different configurations, or recycled for new projects.
Key Trends in the Modular Construction Market
As mentioned previously, modular construction is steadily gaining popularity in the industry. Here are some key trends that are worth noting if you are interested in modular construction:
Labor Shortage Concern
Although modular construction is a great step towards addressing environmental issues, it is not an exemption when it comes to the ongoing shortage of skilled labor in the industry.
Contractors and construction companies continue to have issues finding qualified workers. The shortage of skilled labor results in the battle of benefits wherein companies need to offer an attractive package to hire new people or even to retain the good ones that they do have in their tea.
Needless to say, modular construction developers are also affected by the rising cost of wages in the industry.
No changes are expected on the access to working capital for operations. However, access to owner financing is expected to get easier in the coming months.
Rising Material Costs
One of the factors that affect the increase in the costs of construction is the rising costs of materials. The industry expects to spend more funds on tools, new safety technologies, and materials.
The industry also anticipates an increase in the costs of steel, aluminum, and other key materials in construction due to possible changes in tariffs and environmental regulations.
Modular buildings allow quick and cost-effective environmental-friendly processes. This type of construction makes buildings and houses more affordable despite the rising costs of materials, manpower, and equipment in the construction industry.
Overall, the modular construction process is a giant leap to saving the planet from the inevitable effects of traditional construction.