Offsite construction, also called modular or prefab, isn’t new to the industry. However, experts predict the building method will grow in 2017 as quality, time and labor concerns make alternatives to traditional construction methods more attractive.
“There’s always an emphasis on condensing the construction schedule of a project and saving cost — two very important points in any development scenario,” Vardaro said. “Modular has the ability to suppress schedule. If you’re fabricating a module in a factory, sometimes it’s easier to maintain quality control. You don’t have to deal with weather.”
“Things change slowly in construction. Once something is embedded, then it takes off pretty quickly.”
President of Rider Levett Bucknall
One obstacle holding offsite back from stronger growth has been the industry’s slow-to-evolve nature, but Julian Anderson, president of Rider Levett Bucknall, believes the method is starting to overcome that hurdle.
“It’s one of those things that people figured out would be a good thing to do. I’ve seen the problem being that no one wants to be the first to do it. If I’m the first and it fails, I’m an idiot,” he said. “Things change slowly in construction. Once something is embedded, then it takes off pretty quickly.”
Klawans noted that the first element of modular to take off in the industry are HVAC assemblies created offsite. Those contractors are finding that offsite methods allow them to reduce hours onsite, improve efficiency and perform more subassemblies than in the past, according to Klawans. She said that as more firms utilize offsite construction, they will see the benefits, and other companies will in turn try out the method.