The modular or prefab construction method brings manufacturing processes to residential building. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the use of modular construction in single-family residential has held steady for the past five years at 2% of the completed single-family housing units each year. In multifamily construction, modular is joined by panelized construction to account for between 2% and 7% of completed rental units built annually over the last five years. The Census Bureau describes a panelized process as one where a builder joins preassembled components at the job site. With modular construction, builders assemble fully completed building sections at the site.
BIGGER PROJECTS, BIGGER SAVINGS
While modular construction in multifamily isn’t on a strong growth trajectory, it is increasingly used on larger and larger projects. In Winston-Salem NC, a developer and contractors recently used modular construction to complete the 65-unit Hilltop House apartment building in just 47 days. That period included the time needed to manufacture the 52 modules that went into it. Meanwhile in CA, the Eviva Midtown, a 118-unit, mixed-use community in Sacramento, is now scheduled for completion in early 2016, having shaved six months off its original estimated schedule by using the modular method. And then there’s The Domain in San Jose, CA, the largest modular apartment project completed to date in the U.S. It has 444 units and was completed nine months a head of schedule. Valencia Grove, built by USModular, Inc. has helped revitalized a neighborhood in Redlands, CA
PROS FOR MODULAR MULTIFAMILY
Four factors are conspiring to make modular a contender for greater use in the multifamily sector:
1. The rush to cities. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s people will live in cities, according to United Nations’ estimates. In North America, urban populations are expected to increase from the estimated 292 million in 2014, to 390 million in 2050. All this urban concentration will require multifamily housing that fits into a densely packed environment. Tests also have shown that when you build multifamily using modular construction, there’s a strong chance the project will be ready for occupancy up to 50% faster. Such time savings allow developers to get a quicker return on investment;
2. Duplicating buildings is quicker and more exact. Design costs drop each time the building is replicated because major portions of the ensuing projects are the same. With each replication, the design costs are spread out over multiple projects, reducing the cost on a per-project basis;
3. Environmental impact on site is reduced. There is less waste, lower levels of pollution, and lower levels of dust. Noise pollution is also generally reduced;
4. Control over the process. Although there is still plenty of site work that will be affected by weather and the typical challenges with staging and security, those uncertainties are greatly reduced. In effect, controlling these variables also lowers overall project risk.
Like everything else though, modular construction also has its drawbacks.
While it is popular to cite reduced costs as another advantage of modular, the reality is that project costs are dependent on too many other factors to say this is always true. Analysis of one project in the Metropolitan D.C. area, for instance, found modular and conventional total building costs were the same when using union labor, while conventional construction cost was less when using nonunion labor. In a separate Brooklyn, NY, project, the prime contractor expressed concern re the building leaking. The resulting fallout among the participants left the structure costing far more in the end.
USModular, Inc. is your go to builder and experts in modular construction. Contact our team today. 888-987-6638 firstname.lastname@example.org