As a hotel owner, what if you learned of a building method that would enable you to begin serving guests months earlier, but your contractors were reluctant to use it?
How could you help them to help you be successful?
Hotel owners around the world are discovering that modular construction can streamline construction and open properties earlier – starting the flow of revenue sooner and reducing construction loan periods.
Notably, prefabricated modular bathrooms allowed the recently opened Wilshire Grand in Los Angeles to slash 6 months from its construction schedule. Christopher Martin, project manager and architect for the 73-story hotel, credits the 700 factory-built SurePods bathrooms with the time savings.
Despite success stories like this from throughout the U.S. showing 2 to 6 months of schedule reductions, hotel owners often find contractors are reluctant to use modular construction.
A recent article in ENR discusses why contractors don’t always reap the benefits of prefab. It all comes down to a commitment to making a change and working through the rough patches in learning a new way to build. As the article’s author notes, “the manufacturing-based mindset that is crucial to making prefabrication successful also requires time, patience and willingness to accept that process refinements may sometimes result in failure and setbacks.”
Hunter Benton, project manager for Golden Construction, says it this way: “Prefabrication is tough, but so is building traditionally. With prefab, when you figure it out, you give yourself an opportunity to succeed on a whole new level.”
As a hotel developer interested in completing projects more quickly, the key to getting contractors on board with modular is to understand their hesitancy and help them share in the benefits of an earlier project opening. In today’s ultra-tight labor market, contractors are naturally protective of their sub-contractor relationships and may hesitate to try modular from not wanting to disrupt those relationships. Two ways to help them overcome this are:
- Offer financial incentives for them to complete the project early, which can help them move beyond the fear of risking a new building method for them.
- Commit up front to using modular construction, and make this expectation clear to project bidders, so they can plan and schedule accordingly.
We’ve seen owners use integrated project delivery (IPD) or similar profit sharing incentive models to successfully to meet both of these needs, along with achieving other efficiencies.