Wednesday, March 25, 2020

COVID-19 Highlights a Core Benefit of Modular Construction

Ford Motor Company factories turning out face shields by the hundreds of thousands for hospitals, breweries are bottling hand sanitizers, grocery stores are setting hours for seniors to shop and restaurants delivering meals to ‘shelter in place’ families with no delivery charges and many more examples of stepping up to this crisis can be found everywhere we look.

Even the modular housing and commercial industries are doing their part in no small measure. Temporary hospital triage and examination room modules are rolling out of modular factories.

China proved modular’s benefit when an entire hospital was erected in days.

Because modular construction separates the location where the project is constructed and location of the factory with it’s skilled labor force, this allows factories to build healthcare and housing modules and deploy them as needed.

Going with modular construction simplifies the developer's task in that it puts a significant portion of the project under a single responsibility.

Modular construction has the potential of achieving major savings in the construction process. The only drawbacks are the added state and local codes and regulations that can add 20-25% to the cost of a modular project, restricted transportation and the lack of factories, set and finish crews at the job sites.

This impacts the cost savings and speed, both of which have now become more critical than ever before.

Moving beyond the immediate need for more hospital beds and exam rooms, it may also be possible that design trends may shift away from wide open spaces toward properties with more individual rooms and sections. This could make modular construction even more appealing for the long term.

The big concern of the COVID-19 crisis is will change modular construction forever. Not sure if it will simply be a slight improvement in how our industry currently operates or if it will begin a major shift to modular construction which will require more factories, more innovation and more disruption.

If social distancing continues after the COVID-19 crisis has ended, a entirely new way to market, sell, design and produce buildings will be needed and modular construction’s benefits will be the bright light we’ve always known it could be.

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