Modular buildings are prefabricated units which can be delivered to the construction site and assembled there. Modular buildings are common for residences and industrial spaces such as factories. ‘Module’ refers to a single unit of the prefabricated building. This can be either a room or a section in the case of houses and factories. The major difference between constructed-on-site buildings and modular buildings are that the modules are constructed in a controlled environment and assembled on site. For residences, this is less commonly used as traditional builders’ such as home builders Brisbane offer customised design which is what most people prioritise. However, for businesses, the option to make use of modular buildings, especially for industrial buildings, is just a matter of cost.
Advantages of Modular Building
The main advantage of modular building comes from the fact that it is constructed in a factory. This leads to almost a 50% decrease in time taken as building fabrication can be started immediately and concurrently with on-site activities such as site clearance, topsoil removal etc. This is especially advantageous for industrial buildings as they can be in operation much quicker for a lower payback period for the investment.
Similarly, as the construction occurs indoors, it can happen regardless of weather. Damage to building materials and interruptions to construction activities due to weather are completely eliminated and climate sensitive materials such as concrete can be fabricated under perfect conditions which are normally not seen with on-site construction.
Modular building also leads to less waste as when the module is built in a factory according to standard specifications, the quantities materials required are known with a greater accuracy. Therefore, waste due to excess material usage is minimised. Waste due to manufacturing defects can also be minimised when following a standardised process.
Modular buildings allow contractors to service remote locations where on-site construction is not feasible, as the modules can simply be delivered and assembled. However, this requires that the location has roads which can support wide and heavy vehicles transporting them as well as the space to assemble a crane to begin assembly at the site.
The primary disadvantage is also the source of its advantages – since it is produced elsewhere and assembled on site, the roadways to the construction site should be well developed and allow for transporting wide and heavy vehicles. This is the single most significant drawback of modular buildings as it completely rules out countries and areas with less developed road systems.
Modular buildings are also less accepted as residential buildings by the public as they tend to have less customisation and space. They are also produced in complexes which leads to an entire neighbourhood of similar houses. These combined with the lack of options for modular homes lead to them being perceived as less valuable than a constructed-on-site house of the same quality. However, they are increasingly being adopted in countries such as the UK and Australia in certain cities and they have become commonplace in urban Japan.