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What is Commercial Modular Construction?

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Rising costs has always been a big factor in commercial construction projects. It affects the entire construction cycle including labor, materials, and delivery. Labor shortages, bad weather and delivery delays can be a major disruption that can add tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected cost overruns to an entire project. In extreme cases, the project can run out of money before it’s complete.

But savvy engineers have modernized an old concept that is emerging as the new global standard in commercial modular construction. Commercial modular construction has been around for decades. Many school districts installed portable classrooms to help overcome crowded schools. But these new permanent and relocatable modular buildings are not the same. In fact, modern commercial modular construction are code-compliant permanent or relocatable structures with the strength and appearance of a traditional stick-built building.

Commercial modular construction involves prefabricating the structure into several modules. The finished pods are delivered and erected on the building site. Since most of the construction takes place in an off-site factory, costs are reduced by as much as 50%, with less environmental waste. It also nearly cuts in half the time it takes for the construction project to be completed.

Another benefit of commercial modular construction is that it can be built as either a permanent or relocatable building.

Permanent Buildings

Permanent Modular Construction (PMC) are factory-built structures that use the same building materials in traditional construction methods. The modular sections of the building are assembled to a permanently fixed foundation. Schools, high-rise office buildings, hospitals, hotels and casinos are examples of PMC buildings. In September 2018, the largest PMC hotel in New York City opened its doors. The CitizenM Bowery New York Hotel is a 20-story, 300 room luxury hotel. The concrete and steel structure were fabricated in Poland and shipped to the site in 210 pieces.

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Relocatable Buildings

Relocatable modular buildings are built to the same building codes and standards as PMC structures except that they are designed to be temporary or portable buildings and are not fixed to a permanent foundation. There are a variety of temporary and relocatable buildings including health centers, restroom facilities, sales offices, and pop-up retail stores, to name a few. The Aviara Sales Center in Burnaby, BC received an Award of Distinction from the Modular Building Institute for its relocatable module building design. The 2,400 square foot, two-story modular structure featured a reception area, offices, central air and heat, and a beautiful curved glass wall. The stunning structure which looked no different than a permanent building was completed in 161 days.

Commercial modular construction is a modern approach to conventional building methods. It supports a wide range of energy-efficient permanent and relocatable structures using sustainable materials to build faster, at a lower cost and with less waste without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.

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