By Kathy Werder
In October 2000 a massive flood in Uckfield, England, put parts of the town under 6 feet of water severely damaging a McDonald’s restaurant. Just two weeks later, that same McDonald’s was up and running again. How? With speed, quality and efficiency, modular construction has become the ideal solution for both temporary and permanent space required in sectors such as healthcare, higher education and low-rise offices.
Today McDonald's is at the forefront of modular construction technology in the United Kingdom and has set up several franchises using the sustainable modular construction model. Each structure took just four weeks to build, and a reduced impact on the environment and the improvement of whole-life performance are among the many benefits.
Advancement of technology in the 21st century has given rise to this faster, more cost-efficient method of building construction. It is so named because each individual unit (module) of the building is prefabricated in a factory while the foundation is prepared at the actual construction site. After the modules are ready, they are then transported to the site and assembled on top of the foundation.
So, as opposed to traditional construction, the two phases in modular construction (foundation laying and building) happen simultaneously instead of sequentially. This is mostly why modular construction is more cost-effective and time-efficient compared to traditional construction.
Here are some more interesting facts about modular construction.
It terms of budget constraints, modular buildings will give you the option of renting temporarily or purchasing permanently depending on what you can afford. Modular construction companies can customize models to meet your specific requirements. You can also choose from a range of designs, which can help you stay within your budget. According to a report by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia, going modular can reduce construction cost by 9 to 20 percent.
Today, most modular buildings (homes, schools, hospitals and even prisons) are constructed with the sole intention of being energy efficient. This means using energy efficient glass for windows, installing solar panels and water heaters, and using geothermal systems instead of traditional HVAC systems are all a part of modular construction.
The newly constructed Sky City in China used approximately 200,000 tons of steel, and can withstand earthquakes of a magnitude of up to 9.0 on the Richter scale, as well as resist fires for up to three hours. This 220-story high-rise will house 31,400 people and will use just a fifth of the energy required by a conventional building.
Modular wall panels are built with durable materials and require little maintenance apart from occasional surface cleaning. Repainting and surface repairs are not usually required.
There is no such thing as demolition when it comes to modular buildings. They are simply dismantled and reassembled to the liking and specifications of the new owners.
According to Modular Building Institute (MBI), an industry body accounting for 60 percent of modular contractors, the modular construction business is a small but growing percentage of the total construction industry. Modular construction is pushing boundaries, has several advantages over conventional construction and has rightly been labelled as “the future of construction.”
Image credit: Flickr/seier+seier
Kathy Werder, an architect by profession, has completed her education from the University of California. A researcher by nature, most of her research papers focus on promoting integration that leads to sustainable and lean design and construction practices. Kathy is obsessed with the latest rage in the construction industry – modular building solutions. She is also an avid writer, and loves blogging about ‘green buildings and portable construction units.