Not all construction companies build their houses and buildings onsite. In recent years, many have begun building and assembling components in a factory or warehouse, which they transport to the job site. Known as prefabrication or modular construction, it’s a trend that’s expected to reshape the construction industry by streamlining projects.
Prefabrication: The Basics
With prefabrication, a construction company assembles components, either completely or partially, offsite rather than onsite. Once assembled, the components are transported to the location of the project, at which point workers will make the final touches. Prefabrication is used in a variety of manufacturing-related sectors. In construction, however, it’s particularly beneficial because it allows construction companies to finish projects more quickly and efficiently.
An example of prefabrication in the construction industry is the use of prefabricated concrete panels to create a building. Producing concrete panels onsite is difficult because it requires construction workers to pour concrete into a mold and wait for it to dry. But producing these concrete panels as sub-assemblies offsite and then transporting them to the job site is an easier and more efficient solution.
Advantages of Prefabrication
Prefabrication offers several advantages over onsite fabrication for construction companies, one of which is cost savings. It’s typically cheaper to transport sub-assemblies, such as concrete panels, than pre-production resources to a job site. Construction companies can make fewer trips when transporting sub-assemblies as opposed to pre-production resources, allowing them to save money on gas, vehicle maintenance and labor.
Prefabrication allows construction companies to complete projects in less time. Building houses and buildings using pre-production resources onsite is tedious and time consuming. By assembling components offsite and transporting those sub-assemblies to the job site, however, construction companies can streamline their projects to meet or beat their projected time of completion.
Furthermore, prefabrication promotes a consistent quality for construction projects. Since the components are assembled offsite, they all tend to share the same design characteristics. As a result, using prefabricated components promotes high-quality projects while minimizing the risk of defects.
Disadvantages of Prefabrication
There are some potential disadvantages of prefabrication of which construction companies should beware. Some prefabricated sub-assemblies, for example, require the use of heavy equipment to manipulate them into place. Large steel panels used in the construction of commercial buildings typically require a crane to lift and maneuver them. If a construction company doesn’t have access to crane — or other heavy equipment needed for the project — it may struggle to use prefabrication.