3 Fundamental Principles of Modular Construction

Interior of a warehouse with modular construction buildings

There are three fundamental principles regarding modular construction projects for commercial and residential buildings. If you're considering modular construction, this article covers these three principles and how you can find a trusted source for sustainable materials for modular construction development. 

According to McKinsey, the market share for modular construction will grow up to 10% nationally. Sustainability is one primary reason developers choose these projects, resulting in this growth. They are economical and ecological. 

Before you read about the three principles of modular construction, let's evaluate what it is. Then, you can take a moment to explore some of the primary benefits of modular construction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Modular construction consists of building a structure under controlled conditions inside a factory using the same materials, standards, and codes as traditional construction.
  • The core principles behind a successful modular construction project include early engagement with the designer, factory precision, and open collaboration and communication with the entire development team.
  • The benefits of modular construction are lower costs, they take less time to build, and have superior sustainability.

What is Modular Construction?

The process for building a structure off-site under controlled conditions is known as modular construction. Some refer to it as off-site construction. 

This process uses the same materials as on-site construction projects. Modular structures adhere to the same standards and codes as conventional buildings. 

Developers transport these modules and arrange them according to the design specs. Modular construction applies to both residential and commercial buildings.

There has been a decline in residential modular construction since the early 1990s. Although, it has remained steady in recent years

Bar graph of the number of modular houses completed from 1992 to 2019 

Alternatively, there has been an increase in modular construction for commercial buildings. There is even a dedicated trade association whose sole purpose is to develop best practices for modular buildings.

Experts agree that the growth rate of modular construction will be 6.9% by 2023. They attribute the rise in the development of healthcare and commercial infrastructures as the contributing factors. 

3 Fundamental Modular Construction Principles

Integrating technology with design, manufacturing, and construction processes is how developers complete modular construction projects. They do this without compromising the look and integrity of the structures. 

These projects are more efficient than traditional construction. They require principles that develop best practices when taking on a modular construction project. The three core principles include the following:

1. Early Engagement with the Design Team

Due to the nature of the construction, off-site construction requires early engagement with the design team. Standardization maximizes manufacturing performance, reduces waste, and achieves architectural goals.

Mass production of any structure must include considerations on the scheme that the crews should determine early in the project. Here are a few pivotal considerations for design:

  • Performance specifications 
  • Foundation, central core, and existing structure interfaces
  • Fire and other regulation compliance
  • Installation schedule
  • Structural loads
  • Façade and air permeability
  • Services and connections
  • Ventilation
  • Thermal performances of each module
  • Overheating possibilities 

2. Factory Precision Meets Onsite Construction

 The modular manufacturing processes work at tolerances traditional construction projects don't customarily achieve. As a result, teams must pay attention to the modules' interfaces and any structures of the project. These include foundations, central building cores, large communal areas, or connections to existing buildings. 

Your team must invest time and effort in ensuring the interfaces meet exacting standards. It is the only way to prevent issues with construction during any stage of the project. 

Representation of commercial building developed by modular construction

Key considerations to bringing factory precision to onsite jobs include:

  • Whether the elements constructed off-site will interface seamlessly with onsite elements
  • How to maximize efficiencies of transporting, unloading, and installing modules at the construction site 
  • Lifting capacity of the cranes, jibbing configuration, and site locations
  • What installation accessories are necessary for the project

3. Collaboration and Communication Enhancement

Communication is critical at all phases of every construction project. However, since 80% of the modular construction is done offsite, communication takes on more significance. 

That's why it's vital to establish communication processes with everyone involved— from stakeholders to suppliers, all team members must collaborate with full transparency. It will make the project run smoother and lessen the number of phone calls, emails, and delays should problems arise. 

Stakeholders can ensure effective communication by implementing these practices:

    • Establish open lines of communication: As soon as the project begins, it is vital to establish clear lines of communication. During this time, the teams must determine a chain of command - who will be responsible for each element and ultimately oversee the project.
    • Select effective communication methods: There are several forms of communication, including phone, texting, email, or video. Establish which method will be the primary source of communication.
    • Engage in active listening: One essential skill is to engage in active listening. No matter the method of communication, you must be willing to listen to anyone with project responsibilities.
  • Remain clear and concise: Express only the essential information for the task at hand. There are various stages of a modular construction project. Manage them one step at a time and communicate that concisely.

Benefits of Modular Construction

There are three primary benefits of modular construction. They apply to both residential and commercial construction. These benefits include:

  • Lower construction costs: The McKinsey report cited earlier in this text states that modular construction delivers 10% cost savings over traditional on-site construction.
  • Modular construction takes less time: On-site construction projects take an average of six months to a year to complete. Modular construction takes two to four months to complete
  • Superior sustainability in manufacturing: Designing and building a modular structure utilizes lean offsite techniques during manufacturing that results in less material waste


Geberit Provides Solutions for Sustainability in Modular Construction

If you use these three principles for modular construction effectively, your project will run smoothly. To deliver a successful project, you must partner with a trusted source of sustainable materials.

At Geberit, we manufacture our products with sustainability as our core principle. Not only do we manufacture fittings and fixtures that conserve our precious natural resources, but we also manufacture them responsibly. 

Are you interested in learning how Geberit can help you with your modular construction project? Contact us today!