The building industry has settled on continuing to provide their products in the same way for generations…all parts and pieces delivered and assembled on site. As other industries seek to become more efficient and work towards increasing their top and bottom lines, construction continues as it always has.
There is an alternative and it has been used successfully all over the world, yet surprisingly to a lesser extent here in the United States. That alternative is factory built housing, more commonly referred to as modular building construction.
Modular homes are not manufactured or HUD homes, which are a fine product in their own right, but rather wood or steel framed structures constructed to the same codes and same materials as site built construction. One of the major differences is the construction takes place in a factory where inspections occur during the various stages of the construction and then “signed off” by a State inspector or approved 3rd party.
Modular residential and commercial building solutions are built indoors, out of the elements, in typically half the time of conventional construction. The speed to market can save on interest carry, general conditions, early rent up or occupancy with a product built using the latest factory built technologies to ensure straight and true construction techniques.
In many areas of the country, building out of the rain or snow can add to the quality and livability of the product. An added benefit that often goes unmentioned is neighborhood disruption is significantly reduced when choosing modular construction. If an energy efficient building is preferred, the off-site construction method has minimal environmental impact which is a step in the right direction to achieve a “green” structure.
Despite the benefits of the technology, this alternative form of construction technique has received little attention by builders, contractors and developers, particularly west of the Rocky Mountains. Why is this? If a product can be constructed using the same materials, the same building codes and could be delivered to your job site in half the time, which in turn translates to both construction and cost efficiencies, why not explore the possibilities?
There are always justifications for not trying something different, yet this concept is not new, and it has been proven, for decades, to be very effective. When discussing modular construction with various construction industry professionals and get turned away, I often ask this simple question “Would you rather have your truck constructed in a factory under controlled conditions or have the parts all brought to your front yard and dumped there for you to assemble piece by piece?” You can imagine the answer.
So tell me…why not modular? ##
Randy Duggan is a principal in the Modular Consulting Group and is co-founder of the trade group Western Off Site Construction Association (WOSCA).