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Modular building explained

What is modular construction?

Modular construction involves assembling complete buildings using individual factory-built modules. These steel-framed modules are manufactured to exacting tolerances under controlled factory conditions, where construction is not impeded by poor weather or adverse site conditions. The modules are fully fitted with all electrics, plumbing, heating and internal finishes before they leave the factory. Once completed, the modules are transported to site by road, and then craned into position. Modules are connected on site to create complete buildings, which can be of any size and have multiple storeys.

How are modular buildings constructed on site?

1. Individual factory-built modules are lowered into position by crane.

Factory built modules

2. As many modules as you need are added, side-by-side or end-to-end, to create the required building floor area.

As many modules as you need

3. A single building is created. Internal layouts can be designed to your exact specifications using partition walls, stairs and lifts.

A single building is created

4. Additional storeys can be added to create as much space as you need.

Additional storeys

What are the benefits of modular construction from Portakabin?

Modular construction is fast becoming the building method of choice for organisations looking for buildings delivered quickly and on schedule, to assured quality standards and with minimal impact on the environment or the local area. No other method of construction can match modular building for speed of delivery, reduced waste and disruption, and future flexibility.

  • Modular construction can deliver buildings up to 50% faster than traditional site-based construction methods1
  • Factory-based construction minimises time on site - meaning less noise and disruption, as well as a cleaner, safer construction site
  • Cost and time certainty - modular building projects are not subject to weather-related delays or site-based skills shortages. In fact, Portakabin has a track record of delivering 99.9% of buildings on time and on budget.2 This compares favourably with the construction-industry average of just 59% delivered on time and 46% on budget3
  • Future flexibility - modular buildings can easily be expanded, reduced, reconfigured or even relocated to meet your changing needs
  • Guaranteed quality standards - Portakabin has earned the ISO 9001 certification for its quality-management systems, covering everything from office procedures to manufacturing processes, and ISO 14001 for its environmental-management systems
  • Fewer defects - our zero tolerance policy towards defects means that all products meet strict quality standards before leaving the factory
  • Reduced waste - off-site construction generates up to 90% less waste than traditional on-site building methods4
  • Fewer vehicle movements - modular construction results in 90% fewer vehicle movements to, from and on the construction site,5 reducing transport-related emissions and disruption

Modular construction in action 
This time-lapse video demonstrates the speed and efficiency of modular construction. The building, constructed in Reading for Foster Wheeler, comprises 78 modules which were craned into position over an eight-day period. The video clearly shows how large buildings can easily be constructed using the Portakabin modular method. Foster Wheeler is a global engineering contractor and power equipment supplier.

Would you like to see the process for yourself?
You can find out how modular construction could benefit your organisation by visiting our factory and seeing the process from start to finish.

1. Research carried out by BCIS for RICS Construction Faculty 2004.
2. Portakabin order analysis July 2009-June 2010.
3. Office for National Statistics, Construction Statistics Annual 2009. Crown copyright 2009, reproduced under the terms of a Public Sector Information Licence.
4. Source: WRAP.
5. Source: Mtech.

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