With the ongoing shortage of skilled labour in construction, a new form of building is growing in popularity: modular builds. The process combines traditional building methods with offsite manufacturing to deliver fast, high-quality construction. Using a modular design, builders assemble buildings in a factory, then transport them to the building site for final installation. While modular builds offer several advantages over conventional construction, they also present unique challenges.
One challenge of modular builds is that the time frame for completion can be more compressed than traditional projects. The speed of the build requires more accurate scheduling and forecasting, which may impact the overall project cost. In addition, the lack of on-site work can create a higher level of risk for contractors. If an unexpected issue arises, such as a delay or weather event, it may be more difficult to find another contractor to pick up the project and complete it on schedule. As a result, it is important to incorporate performance bonds, guarantees and insurances into the contract from the outset.
A second challenge of modular projects is that they are more prone to damage during transportation. The modules are loaded and unloaded several times on the assembly line, which can cause stress and vibrations that can weaken components. As a result, it is important for companies to stress test each module to ensure it can withstand the conditions that will be experienced during transportation. In addition, manufacturers should try to build modules close to the final assembly site to reduce the number of truck trips needed and improve safety.
Another challenge of modular builds is that they often require a more rigorous design process. Modular projects must be designed for assembly and shipping, so designers must use practices like Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) to ensure that the building will fit together seamlessly at the factory. This may add to the design costs, but it will help ensure that the building is built correctly and can be easily reassembled at the installation site.
Finally, a third challenge of modular builds is that they can be more expensive than conventional construction due to the higher upfront costs. Because of this, it’s important to carefully consider the budget for the project before choosing a modular design. In addition, it’s important to work with the manufacturer and contractor on a payment plan that takes into account the increased timeline and anticipated bills. This will help to prevent mechanic’s liens and other financial problems that can occur in construction.