Modular Construction – the way of the future?

Partner Simone Holding and senior associate Louisa Nuccitelli recently shone a light on modular construction in their presentation ‘Constructing for the future – Creating a community through innovative procurement methods’ at the SOUL Conference 2018

What is modular construction?

Modular construction involves an offsite construction process where multiple modules are manufactured in a factory before being transported to site for assembly by a builder. Modular construction can increase communal spaces and connectedness to the environment by locating multiple modules in close proximity. This was achieved by the Lime Tree Academy in Manchester United Kingdom.

Advantages of modular construction

  • shorter construction times – modular construction allows simultaneous construction onsite and in the factory. This can minimise delays in delivery of materials and, as offsite construction occurs indoors, there are no wet weather delays. Some proponents of modular construction claim a reduction of up to 50% in project timelines, meaning early occupation and a faster return on investment
  • greater cost certainty – shorter construction times means a reduction in onsite preliminaries. Factory construction can result in reduced onsite trades, delivery and site risks, meaning improved safety outcomes and a reduction in cost uncertainties
  • better quality – factory controlled conditions can mean a more precise and accurate construction than onsite based building methods. This can result in substantially less waste of building materials
  • disruption minimised – offsite construction radically reduces noise, dust and local disruption. This is a particularly important consideration in highly populated areas with confined construction space. It can result in up to 90% fewer vehicle movements to site. It can also mitigate onsite theft.

What form of procurement model could you use for modular construction?

Modular construction can be utilised in all procurement models, but typically they are used in design and construction and design, supply and construct procurement models.

Addressing concerns

Modular construction contracts need clear hold points and clear grounds for extension of time. This is because modular construction requires accurate time management skills to deliver a high quality project without delay. The contract must also have clear timing regarding the transfer of legal title of the modules and the way in which progress payments will be made.

What are your views? Is offsite construction the way of the future for university buildings?

Tune in next week, when we look into the last aspect in this series recap from the SOUL Conference 2018, engagement with the community.