Commercial Buildings: Modular vs. New Construction
Commercial modular buildings are becoming an increasingly popular choice, with many businesses turning to this new technology instead of using retrofitting pre-existing buildings. But what are commercial modular buildings and what are some of the benefits they can offer?
It is common for “modular, prefabricated, and manufactured” to be used interchangeably. Most buildings constructed offsite are prefabricated buildings. In this instance, prefabricated is a generic term. Prefabrication refers to the process of constructing key elements of a building in a factory opposed to the job site. Wall panels or entire structures can be prefabricated.
Commercial Modular Buildings
Modular buildings are a particular subset of prefabricated buildings. All modular buildings are prefabricated buildings, but not all prefabricated buildings are modular buildings. Imagine a portable classroom in the back of a schoolyard. This building was constructed as a single modular unit. By contrast, an entire school building could be constructed using individually prefabricated panels assembled on site.
In this example, the entire modular classroom can be built in a warehouse. This means that everything, including the type of artwork on the walls, can be finished in the factory. Then, they’ll be brought to the site, where they’ll be installed. Modular units contain steel-framed buildings that are structurally designed to be easy-to-move. Typically, this will require a crane to lift the module off the truck.
If creating a large building, you might need to bolt two or more modular units together. The process is finished by having the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing aspects connected. After everything has been hooked up, the finished unit would undergo a safety inspection. Then, you’ll be ready to move in and start enjoying your new building.
Benefits to Building Modular
While constructing a prefabricated building may sound like an intimidating process, most modular companies will walk you through the entire process. In most cases, they’ll even supply the workforce to help you install the building. This makes it easy for anyone to construct a modular building, even on a limited budget.
Modular construction offers numerous benefits over traditional construction methods and the renovation of pre-existing buildings.
You’ll Be Able To Build Faster
When starting from scratch, modular units produce a finished building faster.
While foundational work is being completed at the job site, the modular unit can simultaneously be constructed in a factory. As a result, the construction process is completed twice as fast. Using prefabricated panels saves time as well.
Traditional construction or renovating a pre-existing building is all completed outdoors, leaving you at the mercy of the weather. Modular units can be constructed year-round in all climates.
Additionally, the factories constructing prefabricated pieces follow stringent quality control. This prevents wasting time from having to “fix” on-site errors. Factory quality control saves money, as well. The factory setting allows for an efficient, streamlined construction process.
Reduce Business Disruption
If you need to expand your business or campus, you want it done quickly. Furthermore, you still need to be able to use your existing property. Modular units are taking the commercial world by storm because they address both of these concerns.
New construction and renovations of pre-existing buildings are extremely disruptive to your current operations. A large section of your property will be cordoned off as a safety precaution. This may limit employees and visitors from accessing driveways, parking lots, and even key entrances. Construction workers may be on the premise for weeks or even months.
On the other hand, modular units provide limited disruption to your workplace, helping you maintain productivity. You’ll also be able to control when the building will be installed, such as your “slow” season.
One of the most important factors to consider when taking on any new construction project is how much it will cost. Building materials, size, and installation methods all greatly impact the overall cost of a commercial building.
Generally speaking, the most expensive option will be to build it from scratch. This will mean hiring dozens of workers, blocking off the area for a long time, and facing numerous setbacks. As previously mentioned, things like the weather can force the site to be shut down. It’s also possible that you might need to wait for equipment to become available.
You may find an “ideal” pre-existing building on a less-than-desirable piece of land. It is tempting to considering moving this pre-existing building to another lot. At first glance, this can seem like a good alternative to constructing everything yourself. However, there are many costs that you might be missing. First, you’ll need to have the old building removed from its foundations. This can be very expensive, especially if you need to disconnect electricity and power. Also, many pre-existing buildings are older and not up to code. This often means that you’ll need to invest in substantial renovations, further increasing the costs.
The third option, which is gaining in popularity, is the construction of a commercial modular building. These have been designed to keep costs low, offering several advantages. In most cases, architects’ fees will be included in the building’s price. Also, they can be made very quickly, helping to keep construction wages low. Being made in a factory can also help you limit costs, as all the materials and equipment are easily available.
Many manufacturers in the prefab construction industry offer payment options for you to consider. This can allow you to space out payments over several weeks or months, making it easy for you to afford a new modular building.
Many Design Options Available
Pre-existing buildings may already be wired for electricity, but what if you want to move those electric or plumbing lines? Removing drywall to access electric or plumbing and then repairing the walls can be costly or time-consuming.
And what if you want to remove a wall to create a larger employee lounge? Remodeling of pre-existing buildings can present design challenges. You may be forced to rethink your vision.
Modular buildings provide numerous design options for you to explore. In many cases, you’ll be able to choose from a range of traditional and modern designs. However, you’ll also be able to modify these designs yourself, if you want to. This will ensure that you’ll be able to get something that will fit your goals. This is perfect if you want the building for a specific purpose. Customizing the design will also allow you to remove elements that you don’t want, helping you manage the budget.
Modular units provide versatility for future upgrades and modifications. The units can easily be replaced by a larger unit or attached to other smaller units.
Pre-existing buildings come with pre-existing problems. When purchasing an existing commercial building, you will not likely know who constructed the building or the quality of materials used. You may spend thousands of dollars repairing poor workmanship.
In stark contrast, modular buildings place a strong focus on using the best possible materials. For example, it’s common for them to use strong metal cladding around the outside. This will give you plenty of protection from the wind and rain and ensure that the building will last for a long time.
Above all, when designing and building your own modular commercial building, you know exactly what materials are being used and the quality.
As more businesses seek ways to reduce their environmental impact, modular units are becoming a rising star in the commercial building industry.
Construction of prefabricated modular units reduces material waste in half when compared to new construction or renovating pre-existing buildings. “Extra” materials generated from constructing a modular unit can be recycled off the factory floor. By comparison, renovating a pre-existing building produces waste sent to a landfill.
Additionally, modular commercial units are constructed with materials that having a longer life cycle, reducing future waste.
As modular units are constructed in a regulated factory, additional attention to detail is provided to building a superior product. Tighter joints and increased air filtration allow for top-notch wall insulation resulting in energy efficiencies. Pre-existing buildings with leaky windows and minimal attic insulation will cost you more to heat and cool.
Choosing the physical building for your commercial business is a big decision. As with any business decision, it is important to review the facts prior to making a financial commitment.
In the past, prefabricated modular construction was seen as mass-produced “low-end” construction. Truly, modular commercial buildings provide countless benefits when compared to pre-existing commercial buildings.
Modular commercial units are a cost-effective solution to customize your building while reducing the pain and headaches associated with new construction or renovating pre-existing buildings. It’s no surprise that modular buildings are quickly becoming the most popular choice for businesses.
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