Prefabrication in Construction – Will it Last This Time Around?

Carol Dunn Electrical, Mechanical, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Prefabricated construction is not a new concept. I remember dozens of families in my home region of central Pennsylvania buying “modulars” back in the 1960s and 70s. Buying a modular and setting it on a foundation was a quick and efficient way to get a brand new home in record time, and prices weren’t bad either. But the trend fell by the wayside as the housing became known as poor-quality, cheap and boxy-looking.

Now, prefabricated homes are coming back into favor for three important reasons: superior building materials, digital design technologies that can create unique styles, and faster, leaner production than traditional construction methods.

Real estate demand and the lack of skilled construction labor are two trends driving the resurgence of prefab housing. According to a June, 2019 McKinsey report, Modular construction: From projects to products, if this renewed interest takes hold, it could provide a productivity boost to the construction industry by shaving up to half off a typical production schedule.

And it’s not only housing that the prefab process can revolutionize. Also known as off-site or modular construction, prefab involves producing standard components of a building in a factory, then shipping them to the construction site where they are assembled. That includes any type of building.

The McKinsey report estimated that, within ten years, the market value of prefab construction in the US and Europe alone could reach $130-billion. The report also states that annual savings of up to $22-billon in construction costs could be achieved. The key for any large-scale project is whether it has repeatable elements, ie. classrooms or apartments. And part of the cost savings is in conducting production process inspections in a factory rather than on-site.

The double-whammy of high demand/low availability for housing plus a skilled industry labor shortage, as now exists on the West Coast of the US, was cited by the article as a driver for sustained prefab demand.

Since about half of a typical building project involves mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, prefab is an attractive process for the MEP trades, financially and logistically. Safety and risk are easier to manage in a factory setting. Waste of materials can be minimized. Workflow can be optimized. Weather during production is not a factor. One of the most useful technology products on the market for the subcontractor trades is eVolve MEP for use with Revit. With the availability of eVolve Mechanical and eVolve Electrical versions, MEP contractors have an unprecedented opportunity to profit from prefab construction. If your firm would like to learn more about this MEP construction software, contact eVolve MEP today. The industry-trained experts at eVolve MEP know your industry, and they know how projects come together. Take this opportunity to partner with eVolve MEP and make your project collaboration fast, simple and more productive. With continued high demand for buildings of all kinds, a construction labor shortage that doesn’t appear to be waning, and a product that the consumer can appreciate, it’s looking good for the prefab movement to last this time around.

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