What about building quickly in the building

Fast building with the modular design

The topics of fast construction, calculable costs and planning security are becoming more and more important for investors and building owners. A construction method that plays a central role in this context is the modular construction method.

What distinguishes the modular design?

Modular construction is not to be equated with a prefabricated house, as it has been known from the housing sector for many decades. Modular buildings are also not to be equated with temporarily used container systems. Outwardly, modular buildings do not differ from buildings that were built using conventional methods. The modular construction method is increasingly being chosen, for example, in multi-storey residential construction, in the construction of public buildings such as day-care centers, fire stations or hospitals. Office and seminar buildings as well as research facilities are also increasingly being built with modular elements.

Buildings that are built according to the modular construction method are created by lining up and stacking room modules that are industrially prefabricated in production halls. This procedure enables the modules to be produced independently of the weather and the time of year. With the modular construction, the work on the construction site is limited to the foundation work and the assembly of the individual modules.

With the modular construction, the building floor plan is based on a predetermined grid, which is inherently flexible. The flexibility is made possible by the fact that the modules can be manufactured in different lengths, widths and heights. The dimensions of the room modules can vary depending on the manufacturer. As a rule, a width of around six meters, a length of around 20 meters and a height of around four meters can be achieved (DBZ, 2018).

A special feature of the modular design is the degree of equipment or prefabrication of the modules, because the room modules are already extensively equipped in the production halls. This includes, among other things, the installation of windows, doors and elevator shafts as well as the necessary installations in the areas of heating, electrical and ventilation. The modular design also offers the option of ordering fully furnished room modules. This means that, for example, the sanitary rooms of a building in the production halls can be fully equipped with tiles, wash basins, etc.

After completion of the buildings built according to the modular construction method, they cannot be distinguished from conventionally built buildings externally and with regard to the building regulations (e.g. heat, fire and noise protection).

What advantages does the modular design offer?

The construction of buildings according to the modular construction method has a number of advantages. These will be discussed below:

  • Reduction of the construction time: With the modular construction it is possible to reduce the construction time of buildings by approx. 60 to 70 percent compared to the conventional construction method (DBZ, 2018). Reasons for this are, for example, the possibility that building work can take place in parallel. The modules are produced in the production halls and the construction site can be prepared at the same time. This saves time. In addition, the modular construction is largely independent of the season due to the production of the room modules in the production halls. This also shortens the construction time.
  • Fast approval of construction projects: For the production of the room modules, standard methods are used for modular construction. This can shorten the building permit process.
  • Planning security: Due to the industrial and weather-independent production of the modules in production halls, a high degree of planning security can be guaranteed with the modular design. It is customary to guarantee the builder the deadline for the completion of the building.
  • Cost control and investment security: Construction defects and their elimination often lead to an unwanted increase in construction costs in construction projects. With the modular design, these are avoided due to the industrial and standardized production in production halls. This rarely results in unforeseen costs for the building owner or investors. Many module manufacturers offer fixed prices in this context.
  • High quality and quality control: Through the production in the production halls and the associated certified processes and quality controls, it can be ensured that a high degree of quality of the modules can be guaranteed with the modular construction.
  • Flexible design and change options: The modular design makes it possible to make changes to the respective building flexibly and according to requirements. The extension, the addition of additional modules, the dismantling or a change of use can be realized under certain conditions.
  • Clean and quiet construction site: The modules are built in production halls. The actual assembly of the modules on site at the construction site takes just a few days. This enables an overall clean and quiet construction site.
  • Resource protection: The modular construction also makes a contribution to resource protection. Due to the industrial production in the plant, it is possible to reduce the total amount of waste material.

Where are the limits to modular construction?

Compared to conventional construction, however, there are also limits to modular construction.

Limits and restrictions are set, for example, by the necessary transportability of the room modules with trucks from the production hall to the construction site. The size of the room modules is linked to these specifications. In addition, the transport route to the construction site must also be ensured. Since the transport of the room modules is usually heavy transport, it is imperative that the existing road network, including the bridges, tunnels, etc. that may have to be passed are designed for this. A prior examination is essential.

The suitability of a plot of land or the conditions on site also play a decisive role in the implementation options for modular construction. For example, it is often difficult to insert prefabricated room modules into an existing existing street row or into a vacant lot.

The modular design is also limited by the maximum number of stackable room modules. For reasons of economy, a maximum of six room modules with a floor height of four meters can currently be stacked (DBZ, 2018).

In addition, there are also limits to the modular construction method if the building owner or investor demands a particular individuality of the building. For example, the orthogonal grid specified for modular construction does not allow free building shapes (e.g. curves). The realization of large, column-free spaces is also only possible to a limited extent.

Are there examples of company locations based on the modular design?

Office building on the former Pierburg site in Neuss

In Neuss, a four-story modular office building is currently being built on the former Pierburg site in Neuss. In November 2020, the IHK had the opportunity to find out more about the modular construction and the progress of the construction work on site as part of a construction site visit.

New construction of the geriatric ward in Mönchengladbach

The Mönchengladbach municipal clinics relied on the modular construction method for the new construction of the geriatric unit in 2011/2012 due to the possibility of quick implementation. Further information can be found here.

Have you also built your company location using the modular construction method? If so, please contact us. We would be happy to include you in the list of examples.

Bibliography:

Deutsche Bauzeitschrift (DBZ) (2018): Modulbau (available at: https://www.dbz.de/download/1308141/Modulbau_2018.pdf, last accessed: January 19, 2021).