As a contemporary form of design, modular construction ticks a lot of boxes. While the concept has existed for many years and is popular in countries such as Germany, Sweden and Japan, in the UK, it is only recently we have seen modular construction begin to emerge as a popular alternative. Some even consider it to be the solution to Britain’s housing crisis.
What is Modular Construction?
Modular construction is the process of constructing a building off-site, in a unit or factory, and then taking it to the site to be assembled. Each component is called a module, and they are designed to fit together perfectly. These modules are typically made of the same materials used in conventional construction and can become permanent or temporary structures.
The off-site nature in which the modules are built offers several benefits over more traditional, on-site forms of construction, which can take longer and be impacted by delays, the weather and site limitations.
In contrast to the prefabricated and often poor-quality buildings of the UK post-war era, modular constructions do not usually feel cheap or temporary providing the same quality of building materials are used. There is also a broad scope for design and they are not limited in terms of purpose, materials and aesthetics.
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What are the Benefits of Modular Construction?
Modular construction is very different from the traditional construction process and as such, has several benefits.
Modular construction can help to speed up the completion time considerably. As the plant construction happens away from the site, site developments and foundations can be completed at the same time. Some estimates consider the improvement rate to be between 30-50%.
As a majority of the process is completed inside, there is less chance of experiencing weather delays. Once the modules are complete, the installation time is often much shorter than that of traditional building methods. Finally, as the site is disturbed much less, the time for site restoration is greatly reduced.
Reducing the environmental impact of the construction industry is vital; there are several ways in which modular construction could help.
Improved Air Quality
As most of the construction is built inside using dry materials, there is less potential for moisture to become trapped inside the building.
Less Waste and Reuse
The controlled factory environment can help to reduce waste. Modules can also be disassembled and relocated or refurbished for a different purpose. This can massively reduce the waste of materials as well as the other associated environmental impacts of construction.
There is likely to be a reduction in noise pollution from the use of heavy machinery on-site; this can be particularly beneficial in densely populated urban areas. The reduced access to the site can help to limit the damage caused to the surrounding area.
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When disruption to the site is reduced, the area becomes much safer. Not only is it important to reduce the number of accidents happening to site workers, but this method can be particularly beneficial in high traffic public areas, including:
· City Centres
Disadvantages of Modular Construction
While there certainly are several benefits to modular construction, it does not come without its drawbacks. Although modules can be designed innovatively and used for a number of applications, the nature of the block system does mean that some constructions will lack flexibility in terms of design and aesthetics.
The investment required for the infrastructure of the factories required to build the modules is substantial, and the transportation of the modules from the factory to the site poses a significant risk. At such a late stage in the building process, a mistake or accident could be very costly.
Are you looking to start a project of your own? Martin Perry Associates offer a range of property services to suit your needs. If you require a chartered surveyor or structural engineer in Truro, contact us today. For more construction news and homeowner advice, take a look at our blog.