Debunking Myths About Prefabrication & Modular Building Services

hilst prefabrication has undeniable benefits for builders and contractors across construction projects, there are several myths about prefabrication that need to be cleared up. Some of these myths are born from a lack from knowledge, others from apprehensions about impact on skilled labour. Regardless of their source, these prefabrication myths are about to get busted!

Myth: Modular and Prefabricated Buildings are inferior quality to traditional building methods.

Busted! In actual fact, prefabricated and modular buildings and components must be built with the strength and capability to withstand transportation which is similar to a seismic-type event.

Myth: all modular and prefabricated buildings look the same and ‘blockish’

Busted! Some of the most unique buildings have leveraged modular and prefabricated building methods. For instance, Victoria Hall and Apex House in Wembley (London).

Victoria Hall

Photo credit: (Mick Baker)rooster from Flickr

Apex House

At completion of construction, Apex house was the tallest modular student housing building in Europe and the second tallest modular building in the World.

Apex House Prefabrication Modular Construction
Tide Construction – Apex House, Wembley
Copyright – Richard Southall

Photo Credit: Vision Modular

Myth: prefabricated and modular are not built to last

Busted! A trans-tasman modular builder undertook extensive inspections to determine the structural integrity of their buildings following the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. All buildings passed their relevant checks without need for repairs or restorations.

The devastation of the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 is still visible in the photography showcased by The Guardian and rebuilding and development is still underway.

The below photo shows the remains of the McKenzie & Willis Building following the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake.

Christchurch Earthquake prefab seismic quality strength sml

Myth: Prefabricated and modular building services de-skill tradespeople

Busted! Prefabrication in a factory-controlled environmental allows trades to build and refine skills, as well as expose trades to new and innovative construction methods. With tight quality controls and qualified supervision, staff can perfect their trades ensuring the highest quality standards are met.

Myth: Prefabrication is taking away jobs from electrical, mechanical and plumbing contractors / trades.

Busted! Rather than taking away jobs, prefabrication is providing additional jobs to the construction labour force. It is simply reallocating and gaining efficiencies in the workforce by boosting productivity. One week in a prefabrication facility is equivalent to three weeks on site, thereby allowing trades to complete more jobs in a condensed timeframe. In an era of large infrastructure projects and construction industry boom, the equation is simple.

Myth: The cost of modular wiring is too high

Busted! Whilst the initial investment in modular wiring is higher than traditional hard wired system materials, the difference is recovered by the accelerated installation time on site (time can be reduced by up to 70%) and resulting reduced labour costs.

Myth: Modular and prefab is only suitable for certain building types

Busted! Absolutely not. Modular and prefab has potential applications across a variety of building and construction projects. From modular wiring to vertical risers, fume cupboards to plant skids, prefab and modular can help accelerate construction whilst providing high quality and efficient use of resource.

Myth: Modular means temporary

Busted! Whilst modular has historically been synonymous with temporary buildings, the term and its applications has advanced and evolved over time. The result is a refined process whereby components are assembled with a fit-for-purpose product ready for installation on-site. With assembly and construction occurring offsite in a more controlled factory environment, better quality can be achieved as the process is not subject to poor weather and the risk of delays and budget overruns are reduced.

Conclusion

The use of prefabrication and modular services in construction projects has evolved over the last decade and continues to do so. The early adoption of prefab and modular in projects can help accelerate project delivery, improve efficiencies, and also provide significant safety and health risk reduction. The question is, prefab: why wouldn’t you?

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