Modular Myths: Top 5 misconceptions

Modular Myths: Top 5 misconceptions


Modular construction seems to offer solutions to many of the problems being faced in commercial construction in the 21st Century. At its best, it is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, quicker and more flexible than traditional methods. Its adoption has been slow, mainly due to an undeserved bad reputation and persistent myths and misconceptions about its use. Here, we take a critical look at these misconceptions

1. Modular Construction Costs More

Sometimes perceived as an expensive option in construction, the facts show quite the opposite with savings of 5-10% being achievable where modular construction was included in the project plans from the outset. In a well-organised operation, this can rise to 20-30% due to fewer tradespeople being depended on for project completion. When combined with a quicker ROI from a shorter build time, modular becomes a more sound investment.

Source: Publication by Sri Velamati, University of Pennsylvania,

2. Modular Construction Doesn’t Allow for Variation

Some of the post-war building gave modular construction and prefabrication a bad name in design, however world renowned designers and architects such as I.M. Pei, Moshe Safdie and Renzo Piano have employed modular design and people such as Zaha Hadid are now seeing modular construction for its design.

Source: Inhabitat

3. Supply Chain Isn't Available

The supply chain is one of the most important components of integrating modular construction into a project. Within the UK, organisations such as Build Offsite are involved in engaging customers to demonstrate the extensive supply chain that exists in the country. In addition, modular construction requires up to 60% fewer deliveries to site, potentially reducing supply chain cost.

Source: Publication by M.T. Gorgolewski, Ph.D, associate professor in the Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4. Modular Construction is Only for certain Building Types

Some are keen to pigeonhole modular construction as good for one type of construction or another. A growing percentage of housing across the world involves the use of modular construction and the same is true for factories, commercial units such as shopping centres and hotels. Even the plan for the world’s tallest skyscraper (Sky City, China) plans for a construction period of only a few months thanks to its incorporation of prefabrication.

Source: Skyscrapercentre

5. Modular Constructions Have a Short Lifespan

In 2010, a medical centre built using modular construction in Calexio Arizona withstood a 7.2 earthquake and remained open with only superficial damage. Although modular construction’s reduced cost and ease in deconstruction lends itself to projects with short lifespans, buildings incorporating offsite construction are now routinely being constructed with expected lifespans of 60+ years.

Based in Bristol, England, the author is a talent acquisition manager for ARV Solutions. She currently is focused on recruiting industry professionals for Timber Frame, Modular Building, Steel Structures and Offsite Construction in the UK, China and Australia.

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