Modular Construction Gaining Popularity Across the the United States

The entire U.S. construction equipment industry is expected to grow 12% from 2016 to 2026. Though plenty of industrial, commercial, and residential construction projects will commence over that time period, one specific faction of the construction sector has been gaining some major popularity: modular housing.

Modular buildings are sectional prefabricated structures that consist of multiple parts called modules. A method that strays from conventional construction, modular buildings are built at an off-site facility (or remotely) and are then delivered to the intended site of use. There are plenty of benefits to this innovative new approach to building, including energy usage advantages. Modular constructions reduce energy consumption throughout the building process by as much as 67% and reduce overall energy expenses later on for building occupants.

According to Proud Green Building, there are two market indicators that are contributing to the growth of modular housing construction.

“First, there is a labor shortage for the traditional construction industry as a whole. It has not rebounded since the great recession,” said Devin Perry, director of Building Systems Councils. “Second, we are seeing a materials shortage, and the scarcity of lumber alongside steel tariffs has underscored the economic benefits of offsite construction.”

Across the country, modular construction has primarily been a Northeastern approach to building due to the fact that the majority of systems building manufacturers are located in that part of the United States. However, modular housing projects are starting to grow increasingly popular across other parts of the country. Currently, the largest family development that showcases modular housing has a total of 110 apartments (inside four buildings), including 44 townhouses — all built with a modular approach.

In addition to the energy benefits of modular construction, here are a few other advantages:

  • The ability to be portable
  • An overall increase in cost-effectiveness
  • Greater quality control throughout the construction process
  • Faster and more efficient construction due to the ability to bypass weather delays

According to a recent Associated General Contractors of America poll of modular builders and architects, 77% reported that construction waste was reduced, 66% reported that schedules are freed up, and 65% reported that overall budgets were lower — 41% even say budgets were slashed by 6% or more.

“Another benefit of modular construction is it can simplify on-site project management,” said Gregory Offner, CCM, project executive and design and pre-construction services manager at Moss Construction Management. “Simplifying trade coordination and sequence of work is a common goal for every construction management team… When you can prevent or eliminate these industry illnesses by getting something right the first time, better outcomes are possible.”

In recent news, a city-wide construction project has just been proposed that would revamp a 49,397 block of housing across New York City by focusing on modular building. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) states that this is the first time in history that New York City is using a Request For Proposal (RFP) for affordable housing that explicitly requires modular construction.

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