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What is Modular Construction?

Modular construction is a process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities – but in about half the time. Buildings are produced in “modules” that when put together on site, reflect the identical design intent and specifications of the most sophisticated site-built facility – without compromise.

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The factory-controlled process generates less waste, creates fewer site disturbances and allows for tighter construction.

Greater Flexibility and Reuse: Modular buildings can be disassembled and the modules relocated or refurbished for new use, reducing the demand for raw materials and minimizing the amount of energy expended to create a building to meet the new need.

Less Material Waste: When building in a factory, waste is eliminated by recycling materials, controlling inventory and protecting building materials.

Improved Air Quality: Because the modular structure is substantially completed in a factory-controlled setting using dry materials, the potential for high levels of moisture being trapped in the new construction is eliminated.

Download MBI's report: The Sustainability of Modular Construction

Faster.

Construction of modular buildings occurs simultaneously with site work, allowing projects to be completed in half the time of traditional construction.

Reduced Construction Schedule:
Because construction of modular buildings can occur simultaneously with the site and foundation work, projects can be completed 30% to 50% sooner than traditional construction.

Elimination of Weather Delays:
60 - 90% of the construction is completed inside a factory, which mitigates the risk of weather delays. Buildings are occupied sooner, creating a faster return on investment.

Built to Code with Quality Materials:
Modular buildings are built to meet or exceed the same building codes and standards as site-built structures, and the same architect-specified materials used in conventionally constructed buildings are used in modular construction projects – wood, concrete and steel.

Smarter.

Modular buildings are built with the
same materials and to the same building codes and architectural specifications  as traditional construction. Once assembled, they are virtually indistinguishable from their site-built counterparts.

Safer Construction: 
The indoor construction environment reduces the risks of accidents and related liabilities for workers.

Better Engineered Building & BIM:
PMC relies on advanced BIM for visualization to assess the energy performance and identify the most cost-effective efficiency measures. PMC is ideal for the use of this technology where the construction process is already a collaboration of systems, materials and people—much like the software itself.

Limitless Design Opportunities:
Modular units may be designed to fit in with external aesthetics of any existing building and modular units, once assembled, are virtually indistinguishable from their site-built counterparts.

modular construction saves time

Discover the Benefits of Modular Construction: Why Not Build Modular?

Structurally, modular buildings are generally stronger than site-built construction because each module is engineered to independently withstand the rigors of transportation and craning onto foundations. Once together and sealed, the modules become one integrated wall, floor, and roof assembly. Explore what modular construction options. Building offsite ensures better construction quality management. Manufacturing plants have stringent QA/QC programs with independent inspection and testing protocols that promote superior quality of construction every step of the way.

Beyond quality management and improved completion time, modular construction offers numerous other benefits to owners. Removing approximately 80% of the building construction activity from the site location significantly reduces site disruption, vehicular traffic, and improves overall safety and security. Highly active businesses such as those in the education and healthcare markets have need for reduced on-site activity and offsite construction eliminates a large part of ongoing construction hazards, ensuring a tremendous advantage when building new projects.

For architects, developers, and owners alike, modular construction companies today can work with levels of design and construction sophistication that will exceed all expectations, rivaling their site-built counterparts. It is beneficial that when exploring the various project delivery methods, offsite construction is chosen early in the design development process, and the project built around that methodology, to avoid redesigning. Most modular companies, however, can take a site-built design and create a modular version when required, so it’s never too late to explore the possibilities!

As owners and designers explore the benefits of Modular Contruction and look for more sustainable designs for improved environmental impact, modular construction is inherently a natural fit. Building in a controlled environment reduces waste through avoidance upstream rather than diversion downstream. This, along with improved quality management throughout the construction process and significantly less on-site activity and disturbance, inherently promotes sustainability. High quality, sustainable, innovative, efficient, cost-effective, and shorter time to completion.

What is Modular Construction: Exploring the Two Types of Modular Construction

Permanent Modular Construction

Permanent Modular Construction

Permanent Modular Construction (PMC) is an innovative, sustainable construction delivery method utilizing offsite, lean manufacturing techniques to prefabricate single or multi-story whole building solutions in deliverable module sections. PMC modules can be integrated into site built projects or stand alone as a turn-key solution and can be delivered with MEP, fixtures and interior finishes in less time -- with less waste, and higher quality control compared to projects utilizing only site-built construction. Recent research has come out supporting the fact that modular construction is an efficient construction process and poised to help the construction industry grow.

“Manufacturing building components off-site provides for more controlled conditions and allows for improved quality and precision in the fabrication of the component.” - National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Research Council

NRB_Relocatable

Relocatable Buildings

A Relocatable Building (RB) is a partially or completely assembled building that complies with applicable codes or state regulations and is constructed in a building manufacturing facility using a modular construction process. Relocatable buildings are designed to be reused or repurposed multiple times and transported to different building sites. They are utilized for schools, construction site offices, medical clinics, sales centers, and in any application where a relocatable building can meet a temporary space need. These buildings offer fast delivery, ease of relocation, low-cost reconfiguration, accelerated depreciation schedules and enormous flexibility. Relocatable buildings are not permanently affixed to real estate but are installed in accordance with manufacturer’s installation guidelines and local code requirements. These buildings are essential in cases where speed, temporary space, and the ability to relocate are necessary.

Explore Modular Building Case Studies

The Sphere Made Possible with Exterior Wall Panels

This one-of-a-kind structure required one-of-a-kind building materials and exterior cladding that could accommodate the atypical geometries, project timelines, and significant daily foot traffic. Offsite construction, in the form of Dryvit’s Outsulite prefabricated panels of continuous insulation (CI), was the key method for streamlining the façade installation and ensuring quality control for the difficult building connections.

Modular Construction for Financial Viability: The Norwalk Project Case Study

The Norwalk project serves as a prime example of how Offsite Modular Construction, in collaboration with Architects, Consultants/Engineers, General Contractors (GC), and Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection (MEP/FP) Subcontractors, can make projects financially feasible by closely working with the Owner/Developer under an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach.

STAAT MOD Patient Bed Expansion at M Health Fairview – St. John’s Hospital

Construction firm The Boldt Company, and interdisciplinary design firm, HGA were engaged by St. John’s Hospital to deliver a 16-bed ICU patient observation wing onto the existing facility, built to over 90 percent completion offsite in Appleton, Wisc., then seamlessly transported and installed on the St. John’s campus – the first of its kind in the state of Minnesota.

Offsite Modular Construction Builds and Installs 12 New Classrooms for Westlake Academy in 100 Days

OMC utilized modular construction techniques to manufacture two brand new permanent 6,400-square-foot modular buildings, each housing six classrooms. The process included innovative design features for safety, durability, environmental sustainability, integrated technology enhancements, and health-oriented construction.

Formula 1 Race, Las Vegas, Nevada

In partnership with InProduction, Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME) designed, manufactured, and installed seven modular elevators for the F1 Grand Prix race in Las Vegas, Nevada. To minimize space, the design utilized machine roomless (MRL) hydraulic elevators, eliminating the need for separate machine rooms for each elevator. Instead, using the MRL design, the machine room equipment is built into the hoistway, and accessed via a small door on the side.

Silverking Student Housing, Selkirk College

ROC Modular was proud to deliver a much-needed new permanent modular Student Housing Residence for Selkirk College, located at the Silverking Campus in Nelson BC. The project is a 3-storey, 12-module 38-student bed building with a mass-timber main common area for student amenities.

Parkhurst Elementary School Classroom Additions

The Parkhurst Elementary School in Winchester, MA, has recently undergone an expansion of 13,074 square feet. Due to renovations at the neighboring Lynch School, students were temporarily relocated to Parkhurst. Modular construction was chosen as the preferred method to accommodate the influx of students and prepare for the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

VBC Chooses MAESTRO SMART 9 HP

Volumetric Building Companies (VBC), a global leader in the construction sector with a focus on building the future through volumetric modular techniques, choose the Maestro Smart 9 Heat Pump as their ideal comfort solution to heat and cool their modular housing project in Philadelphia, PA, consisting of 60 modular housing units.

16’ x 37’ Welded Substation Enclosure

Instead of sourcing a new transformer, which would have taken over 100 weeks and cost several million dollars, Raytheon Technologies turned to Panel Built Inc. for a modular solution. Panel Built designed a 16’ x 37’ prefabricated enclosure that could be delivered to Guam in two pieces. Once it was put together, it was lowered over the transformer.

Temporary Visitors Center at Antietam National Battlefield Park

Antietam National Battlefield Park, a revered site listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, presented unique challenges demanding meticulous preservation efforts. The paramount goal was to ensure minimal disruption to the sacred grounds surrounding the new modular building.

Wraptite Airtightness Protection for Northampton School for Boys

The Wraptite external air barrier system from the A. Proctor Group has been chosen for its high-performance, airtight insulation for a Department for Education (DfE) funded project of the offsite construction of Northampton School for Boys Multi-Academy Trust.

University Temporary Modular Student Housing— Ettrick, VA

Modular Genius, Inc. designed and built three temporary modular dormitory complexes featuring 134 dorm rooms, totaling 49,632 sq. ft. All three modular dorms feature a shared laundry room, kitchen and lounge area, showers, and restrooms for residents.

Hage’s Badehotel — Case Study — Denmark

For this project, Forta PRO delivered 72 buildings, 144 modules, with 5,200 m2 of gross modular area. With final onsite completion in June 2023, it provides exceptional long-stay accommodation in a stunning and serene environment.

355 Sango Court Case Study

The logic-intensive preconstruction method demanded of automated modular brought extra benefits to the Sango Court project. Autovol had worked side by side with preconstruction innovator Prefab Logic to create a digital twin modeling approach and a sprint process as advanced as the Autovol factory.

Enhancing Building Performance with Wraptite

The Wraptite external air barrier system from A. Proctor Group was installed in combination with the innovative, unique pre-panelized and fully load-bearing Hadley Frame offsite system, which is ideal for developments of low to medium rise structures.

Hearst Elementary School Case Study from Wilmot Modular

Wilmot Modular was hired to consult and provide what was originally a two-story classroom expansion project. The school district wanted the building to match nearby
buildings on the campus, and fit in a steeply graded, small site. There were also budget constraints that had to be managed.

Unity Malmö – New Student Housing in Southern Sweden from Forta PRO

The city of Malmö in southern Sweden is set to welcome a new student housing project Unity Malmö, comprised of 5 building blocks, 450 micro-living apartments, where Forta PRO delivered 269 modules, total of 9,671.9 m2.

CertainTeed’s ONE PRECISION ASSEMBLIES™ Panelized Solution

Using the latest advances in building science and prefabrication, CertainTeed developed these wall, floor, ceiling, and roof panel assemblies to meet the needs of builders and developers wanting to build higher-performing
homes, faster.

Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Solutions from DMDmodular

DMDmodular has recently achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing a relevant energy-efficient housing project, fully financed by EU funds, that tackles the industry’s most pressing challenges.

The Rapid Rise of Affordable Modular Housing in Canada

Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative represents a huge success for the modular construction industry, and MBI members are building modular multifamily homes fast. Here are some examples.