Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Unprecedented Interest in Modular and Offsite Construction

There has been a lot of buzz lately about the advantages of modular and offsite construction processes, particularly in the multi-family markets. It seems as if more developers are finally starting to realize the tangible results more than just the promises and potential.  And that will make all the difference.

Very few developers want to be the risk takers and try something new (although most realize modular construction is hardly a new concept). But until recently, there were not enough successful projects delivered for developers to take the risk. 

The most high profile case involves Forest City Ratner’s Pacific Park project in New York.  Critics are quick to point to the “failures” of this effort caused by delays, legal issues, union issues, and many other setbacks.  But the fact remains that the project is moving forward and at its current fifteen stories, is the tallest modular building constructed in North America in the last forty years!

In a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences' Offsite Construction Council, ninety-three percent of respondents in the architect, engineer, contractor, owner field indicated that they had implemented some form of offsite construction process in the past twelve months. These processes ranged from precast concrete, wall panels, MEP systems, bathroom pods, and permanent modular construction (or PMC).

In an effort to capitalize on this interest, a new event was recently created and launched.  The Offsite Construction Expo will be held September 23-24 at the Washington D.C. Convention Center and will feature numerous exhibitors displaying pods, precast, panels, and PMC. 

Currently over 400 attendees have registered including representatives from ten federal agencies, three major hotel chains and dozens of multi-family and health care facility developers and architects.  But perhaps the real sign of the times is that eight of the largest traditional general contractors in the continent are sending multiple representatives to this show.

The event is being co-hosted by the National Institute of Building Science, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) and the Modular Building Institute, with several other organizations including the Modular Home Builders Association serving as supporting organizations. 

While primarily aimed at light commercial and multifamily markets, we think it’s highly likely that this interest will carry over to the single family residential industry as well.   This show is about business development and market share growth for the offsite construction sector, and we plan to have exhibit space available for all segments of modular and offsite construction. 

Tom Hardiman

Executive Director

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