The due diligence phase of your next project has taken you to the point of considering the use of modular as an alternative construction technique. We can all agree that there must be a different way to accomplish our objectives than the same way we have in the past.

Where do we start?

The first order of business is to assemble a team that shares the same goals and objectives, not just in the project itself, but in the use of modular technology to accomplish the common goal.  This means the selection of an architect, engineer and general contractor all need the” modular mind set”.  While there are many of these professions who claim to be in tune, in reality there are few who are looking out into the future for a different way to satisfy their customer’s needs.

Selection of an architect is key.  There are limitations and requirements for modular building that need to be addressed early on. There are several firms in the region who know what these are and can be of great benefit to the process. The design of a project can begin as a modular oriented one and then can be easily changed to site constructed, while it is much more unwieldy to go from site to modular design.

Typically an architect who is familiar with modular design also knows a structural engineer who can become a valuable member of the team.

Selection of a general contractor who is open to the concept is a requirement. The GC can make suggestions and ask questions during the design phase that assist in the projects affordability. The development of work scope at the outset assists the factory in deciding what they do and what the onsite GC will do.  This will lead to a smoother and more cost effective conclusion.  A GC who understands that modular building is really not much more than “one big sub” are usually open to the concept for they do not lose scope or can modify various functions to the benefit of the customer.

There currently exist several factories, located in the Pac NW, that have varying degrees of track record.  Knowing who these factories are and their capabilities requires teaming with consultants who work directly for the developer, either through the A and E budget or the GC budget.  Hearing from a factory representative only, does not give the developer a broad view of what is available in the market place to assure a successful and cost effective project.

Once the team is assembled a simple black line drawing, with floor plan, elevation and section drawing, along with an agreed upon specification, is all that is required to go to the factory marketplace and see where the costs come in.  All projects are different and all budgets are different.  The greatest determining factor of cost, in factory building, is the efficiency of the module itself.

The site construction variables will remain as they always are but if the vertical construction can be produced for the same cost, whether site or factory built, but the time frames can be shrunk by 1/3  to ½ .  Shouldn’t the factory concept be considered?

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