Offsite construction, also called modular or prefabricated build, isn’t new to the industry. However, experts predict the building method will grow towards the end of 2017 with quality, time and labour concerns creating alternatives to traditional construction methods.
Every contractor looks to shorten or condense the construction project schedule mainly for cost savings. Modular construction can allow just that and has the ability to reduce on site schedules. If you’re fabricating a module in a factory, sometimes it’s easier to maintain quality control and what’s more, you don’t have to worry about the weather.
One obstacle holding offsite back from stronger growth has been the industry’s slow-to-evolve nature, but Julian Anderson, president of Rider Levett Bucknall, believes the method is starting to overcome that hurdle.
“It’s one of those things that people figured out would be a good thing to do. I’ve seen the problem being that no one wants to be the first to do it. If I’m the first and it fails, I’m an idiot,” he said. “Things change slowly in construction. Once something is embedded, then it takes off pretty quickly.”
The use of pre-cast concrete in offsite construction methods for example, has the potential to reduce the generation of waste on construction sites by up to 50% compared to traditional construction. By involving the supply chain and integrating the design and manufacturing processes, offiste methods offer the flexibility required by clients and are suitable for a number of different construction applications.
Concrete is a fundamentally important material to offsite construction. Precast and pre-stressed units and formwork include elements such as the structural frame, supporting columns, panels, beams and flat slabs. These can be used to create most building types. The concrete elements may be factory-finished internally including services, windows, doors and finishes. Externally they can remain exposed in the final building. Precast concrete may be used with in-situ concrete or structural steel as part of a hybrid frame and can be integrated with cladding systems, volumetric and pod technology. Precast concrete systems are also used to rapidly build foundations. The concrete elements are usually to a bespoke design and cast in a factory environment, giving guaranteed quality for the finished product.