Research shows that prefabrication brings a wealth of benefits to almost any construction project. This makes it all the more baffling that the prefab option is still not the preferred method of construction when compared with on-site work. Many of the criticisms levelled at prefab construction options aren’t due to the nature of the prefab process, but rather arise due to the constraints fabricators are put under to create suitable solutions at short notice. Frequently, they are called on to deliver after the initial planning and design phase of the development has already been completed.
Here, we consider ten reasons why adopting prefabrication before the design phase of the project will deliver better outcomes in all sorts of ways.
1. Accurate costings
The costs involved in creating a prefabricated development are different to those involved when a project is completed 100% on-site. If prefabrication is the chosen option from the outset, it’s easier for the prefabricating company to plan the best way of achieving the desired results for the lowest cost. By being involved before the design is finalised, fabricators can add expert commentary to the design conversation.
By calling on the prefabrication team early on, it’s possible to end up with a design that favours the advantages that prefabricated work brings. This results in lower costs for a prefabricated development. Given that cost is often cited as an objection to prefab work, involving the prefab team from the outset allows them to showcase the savings that can be accrued through pro-active planning and design that’s geared towards the strengths prefab work provides.
2. Partnership in the design work-up
Ideally, development should be a partnership between all the parties responsible for its implementation. Unfortunately, prefab companies have historically only been included at a later date, once the project design has been finalised. Working with a “fait accompli” in design terms makes it harder for a prefab team to incorporate the tips and tricks that would reduce waste, labour, energy usage and other resources, thereby decreasing overall costs and environmental footprint.
3. Optimise design savings
If prefab designers are allowed to work with the design team from the outset, they can create a prefab structure that meets the desired outcomes, at the same time as being well within budget. There are lots of ways that prefab designs can be fabricated to keep costs low. The timely inclusion of the prefab design team in the planning process allows them to optimise the savings using prefab can provide.
4. Ensure site infrastructure is correct
Another criticism that’s frequently levelled at prefab buildings is that they require specialist (expensive) equipment to install. It’s true that prefab installations require plant to move the pieces into position, but prefab buildings also don’t require the plant that’s needed for a building that’s built entirely on-site. The prefab team will make sure that only the plant that’s necessary for prefab work is requested, preventing unnecessary hire costs.
5. Waste reduction
If it’s clear that a building is to be prefabricated from the outset, the prefabrication company can consider the best way of optimising resources, minimising waste at every stage of the construction process. Unfortunately, if the decision to use prefab is taken late on, it’s often the case that a considerable amount of site infrastructure and materials have already been put in place on the basis that on-site construction was going to take place.
A last-minute decision to use prefabricated work both limits the ability of the prefab team to optimise waste reduction and increases the risk that money will already have been wasted on costly on-site installations that aren’t necessary.
6. Improved green credentials
Prefabricated buildings are seen as a green option, as they are less energy-intensive to create and use fewer resources than on-site construction. For developers who are eager to operate in a planet-friendly manner, opting for prefab work is a good option.
7. Better on-site environment (including reduced noise)
When a development is designed, the way in which the site will operate during construction can be a deciding factor in whether local authorities allow it to go ahead. Noise and traffic management are two variables that can easily derail an on-site development. Opting for prefab greatly reduces the amount of on-site traffic and noise, as minimal on-site work is needed to complete the project. Submitting plans that clearly state prefab is being used can mean the route to obtaining statutory approvals is faster, easier and has fewer conditions.
8. Pro-active planning and problem solving
If a prefabrication team is involved from the outset, they can proactively plan the entire project. This includes the creation of contingency plans, risk assessment, energy and waste audits, and all the other planning necessary to ensure that the development proceeds as smoothly and rapidly as possible. Obviously, if the decision to use prefab is taken late on in the planning phase, there’s less time to anticipate and prepare for problems, increasing the risk of delays or other issues.
9. Enjoy better quality results
Ultimately, the aim of any building work is to create the very best results possible. If you intend to use prefabrication, ensuring a suitable team is engaged before the design phase of the project is completed allows the prefabrication company to come up with a design that ticks all the right boxes. It also means that designs are more likely to be economical and capable of construction within the required time span. The earlier the prefab team are involved, the more likely it is that they can create a building that exceeds expectations.
10. Enhanced site safety
The safety of the workforce is paramount during the construction phase of development. Because prefab work is completed in a controlled environment, it’s far easier to make sure that it’s carried out safely. Prefab work can also be carried out safely no matter what the weather is doing, reducing the risk of delays.
Although prefab work can add value at any stage of a building project, involving pre-fabricators during the very early, design phases is the best way to optimise the advantages that prefabrication can bring to construction.