What You Need to Know When Getting Started with Off-Site Construction
Note: This post was updated in August 2019
If you’re a business owner or contractor just getting started with modular off-site construction, you’re not alone. Numbers from the Modular Building Institute (MBI), show that modular construction currently makes up just 3% of new commercial construction in North America. However, the industry is working hard to push that number to 5% of the market over the next few years.
Acceptance of off-site construction methods is growing. Just a few years ago, 85% of industry players reported using modular processes on some of their projects, including 90% of engineers, 84% of contractors, and 76% of architects.
So, as someone getting started with off-site construction, here’s what you need to know about your first modular building project.
Your Industry is Perfect for Off-Site Construction
The good news is that off-site construction methods are beneficial and adaptable to almost any industry. They can be used to build anything from temporary modular classrooms or modular offices to permanent modular government buildings or modular healthcare facilities. From a couple of hundred square feet to 20+ thousand square feet, modular buildings can be built for education, government, healthcare, commercial, energy and utility, corrections, and religious purposes.
Your Timeline will be Shortened
The primary driver that leads many industry professionals to choose off-site vs. on-site construction is the improved project schedules. Through productivity improvements, modular construction can cut down on your building timeline by as much as 50%.
Here’s a snapshot of the process:
With off-site construction, time is gained when fabrication of the individual modules happens off-site at the same time as on-site excavation and foundation installation, as well as the setup of any other site infrastructure. Logistics between site work and off-site fabrication are efficiently orchestrated so that the individual modules are delivered to your construction site up to 90% complete and are almost immediately set on the foundation and seamed together.
Permits Are Still Necessary
A major misconception among those who are new to off-site construction is that the modular components can show up on their property without permits or approvals. The truth is, this is one area where modular construction and traditional construction are much the same.
Your modular building project is considered construction, and your project manager will need to obtain all the appropriate state or local permits. Typical construction permits fall into these categories:
- Foundation & Building Permit
- Mechanical Permit
- Electrical Permit
- Plumbing Permit
- Road Opening Permit
- Water/Sewer Taps
- Fire Suppression Permit
Although they may not all be necessary, you should check with your local government office to determine which you need.
Additionally, modular buildings are designed and constructed to meet the IBC (International Building Code) requirements for commercial buildings, as well as applicable federal and state building codes. These are the same standards that are used to inspect and approve commercial buildings constructed using traditional, on-site building methods.
There are three steps in the modular off-site construction process where buildings are evaluated and approved based on building code requirements. Buildings are inspected during the design phase, just before delivery, and after final assembly.
Your Building Will Be Quality & Durable
Speaking of inspections, off-site construction takes place in highly controlled manufacturing facilities, with specialized skilled workers and quality control inspections that are completed throughout each project.
To ensure a structurally-sound product, focused inspections are completed as the individual modules move down the assembly line. This unique quality control process allows for imperfections to be corrected without affecting the other areas of the project, saving time and keeping costs down.
When the project is completed at your site, the final assembly then undergoes the same final inspection as its conventionally built counterparts. In fact, modular components are designed and manufactured to a higher standard, as they must also withstand the rigors of on-road transportation, including high winds, vibrations, weight distribution, and bumps.
Are you interested in getting started with off-site construction? Take the first step and get a free quote on your upcoming new construction or expansion project!