Offsite construction (often referred to as modular construction) is the technology-driven intersection of design, fabrication and pre-planning processes where structures are constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designed to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities. These rapid, precise, and high-quality modules are then transported and assembled on site. To put it in lay terms, it is akin to adult Lego building.
In this piece, we wanted to take a look at some of the reasons why modular building systems are gaining popularity in the construction industry.
In Australia, all construction is subject to the Australian Building Code. And whilst all buildings which are handed over to clients comply, there is a vein of thought that modular construction is more adherent to quality control than compared to traditional construction practices. This can be potentially debated, but what cannot be are the following facts:
- Modular buildings are assembled in controlled environments meaning a great percentage of the process is undertaken in controlled environments, and furthermore, sheltered from the elements.
- All building materials are stored in the same controlled environment, reducing imperfections.
- There is a reduction in the number of trades on the site at any one time which reduces damage to the building process.
Greener and less material waste
In controlled environments, it is much easier to control the inputs and outputs of production. In fact, modular construction allows for tighter control over inventory, material wastage and recycling. In fact, a core premise of modular construction is that construction is more efficient, both from the perspective of time and material use/waste.
A corollary of off-site construction is that materials not utilised for the intended job can be more easily repurposed/adopted into the next project, as there are no transportation costs, no hassles in repackaging and less time for chemicals (as relevant) to cure between jobs.
Reduced construction schedule
Construction of modular buildings can occur simultaneously with the site and foundation work. In fact, studies have found that projects can be completed sooner than traditional construction by a factor of up to 50 percent. With elimination of factors like weather delays, construction of modular buildings allows projects to be completed and occupied sooner, creating a faster return on investment.
Limitless design opportunities
Modular building systems have greater flexibility and ‘limitless’ design opportunities allowing construction companies to cater to more specific needs. Components can be designed to be more easily assembled on-site than may be otherwise achievable through traditional on-site construction lowering costs, risks and timelines.
A number of firms are also finding the benefits of modular construction in not only new build, but in maintenance and renovation. Design components can be created to fit in with external aesthetics of an existing building and engineered in a way that they can be applied to existing structures with the final result virtually indistinguishable.
Whilst there has not been a huge calling for it to date in Australia, modular construction opens up benefits for developers and real estate agents as modular buildings are more easily relocatable than traditional structures. They can be partially or even completely moved to a new site opening up brilliant opportunities for flipping, as well as general real estate development.
Relocatable modules are designed to be reusable. The same module that is used for a residential site can be reused for a number of other purposes including ground offices, schools, clinics, retail stores and many other types of commercial sites.
Easy fire rating and application of passive fire protection solutions
Whether constructed using traditional methods or modular design a building must still meet the stringent fire safety guidelines. Generally classified into two main categories; cellulosic or hydrocarbon, fires relate to how quickly the material burns and reaches its maximum temperature range, and the fuel source.
Fires can quickly reduce exponential temperatures, having a dramatic effect on the structural integrity of a building, increasing the likelihood of collapse, injury and other losses including life.
With greater flexibility and limitless applications, modular building systems are ideal for thorough fire coating applications in controlled off-site locations.
Under the NCC guidelines, all buildings with exposed structural steel are required to implement protective measures. Globally recognised brands of passive fire protection systems, which offer application and performance advantages, are designed and manufactured to the highest standards available.
Fire retarding products such as the Nullifire range from Permax are the first choice of builders, engineers, architects, and specialists the world over. Permax carries two products in the Nullifire range: SC902 Hybrid Intumescent and as required (given its more specific nature) S707 Water Based Intumescent.
These technologically advanced coatings are designed to form a ”char” as a result of extreme exposure and are specifically formulated to a fire rating level of 120 and 90 minutes respectively.
If you are looking for assistance in employing off-site fire-rating application in your construction projects, feel free to book a consultation with our experts here at Permax.
Get in Touch
Speak to the leaders in passive fire protection
You are about to download a file from the Permax site. Please note All technical advisory notes generated by Permax are based on research papers, indicative fire tests and any other existing evidence. These documents should not be used as an official evidence as design engineers should review the information and determine the reliability of the documents.
Permax constantly update the documentations based on the new fire testing outcomes and change of standards and regulations. To ensure the documents you read are up-to-date, please contact the Permax technical team.