Modular building is gaining popularity – prefabrication has several benefits

Nowadays it seems that new buildings can appear in a day. Sometimes they actually do. Modular building enables the elements or in some cases even whole houses to be prefabricated off-site. The option for traditional building method has many benefits. It for example allows the air temperature and humidity to be constantly controlled.

Traditional buildings are constructed directly on site from start to finish, while modular building is carried out in specialized factories, where the modules are assembled and often finished or even furnished.

Instead of bringing sand, cement, water and lumber for the casting molds to the site, the cast is done in the premises of an element producer and the ready-made wall or floor elements are brought to the construction site. Same applies to wooden or steel constructed elements. When the ready-made modules have been transported to the site, they are assembled to a bigger unit creating the building.

Many benefits – in whatever weather conditions

Since modular houses are manufactured inside a factory, the air temperature and humidity are constantly controlled while in the traditional building these parameters depend on the season and the weather conditions. Better independency from the external factors during the construction period is one of the benefits in modular building.

“Material manufacturers, like Kiilto, issue Technical Data Sheets for their materials and these are always valid for controlled air temperature and humidity conditions. In very general terms this means that complaints should be few and far between with modular buildings”, says Kimmo Huttunen, Head of Product Management, Construction, at Kiilto.

Fully controlled conditions also offer more predictable schedule concerning the element itself as well as better quality control with standardized working methods.

“Overall effectiveness means saved resources and waste management arranged drastically better than on site.”, Huttunen points out.

More controlled process

Tanel Lonks from Kiilto Estonia agrees with Huttunen on the easier quality control.

“The warm indoor climate in a factory hall enables a reduction in material drying times, preventing problems caused by construction moisture and low outdoor temperatures. It also reduces the burden of supervision – standard solutions, materials, working methods are used for one project”, he says.

In stable conditions it is also easier to develop and follow the processes. According to Tanel Lonks this should lead to faster projects. The entire production process can also be monitored from start to finish, documented, and, if necessary, reviewed.

“The process can also be certified with the ISO quality certificate, which in turn will assure the customers that they receive quality products”, Lonks tells.

Wide transportation on its way!

Modular building is not a new thing but according to Huttunen, the turnkey solutions have increased especially in single family house segment during the last decade. Also, office buildings are a growing business in module building.

“In Finland, for example, it is very popular and the dominant way of building in single family houses where the material is mainly wood. When talking about concrete elements the same dominance goes to load bearing structures like beams, columns and slabs”, says Huttunen.

In Estonia modular building is also becoming more popular. However, obviously, it is not the same thing to transport materials or whole elements to the construction site.

“Logistics and overall timetable of the construction site need to be considered when transporting bigger pieces”, both Huttunen and Lonks remind.