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Technical Spotlight #7 Prefab Bathroom Pods: Slab Depression Not Required

Many misconceptions prevent building professionals from making the leap to time- and labor-saving modular construction methods. For example, some developers believe that prefabricated bathrooms come with thick floor assemblies. They fear this would require additional work to depress the concrete slab in order to accommodate the height of the modular units’ bulky floors.

In our seventh “Technical Spotlight,” we’ll address this myth head-on, revealing the reality behind pre-fab bathroom solutions as they relate to slab depression.

Question: How thick are pre-fab bathroom floors?

Contrary to popular belief, modular bathrooms’ subfloors, like SurePods’, can be considerably thin. In fact, our floor specs have tighter tolerances than the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires. As a result, rather than having to depress or modify the slab in anyway, construction crews can simply slide the prefabricated pod into place at its new hospitality, student housing or multi-family home. Teams then only have to install a custom-engineered sloping floor threshold, as they would do with any on-site built bathroom. The threshold ensures that the transition between the flooring inside and outside of a pre-fab pod is ADA compliant. Once the threshold installation is complete, guests or residents can enter and exit the modular solution with ease, regardless if assisted by a cane, walker or wheelchair.

We recently had a project that proved to be our biggest transition challenge to date – it included porcelain tile inside the bathroom and vinyl composition tile (VCT) floor outside. To achieve the desired aesthetic along with meeting codes, we worked with the architects to spec a porcelain tile with a slimmer profile. The profile, together with SurePods’ thinnest subfloor and the threshold, enabled our prefabricated pods to satisfy the tight requirements.

Question: What about healthcare applications?

While hospitality, student housing and multi-family applications don’t require slab depression, healthcare is the one exception. Sometimes, healthcare projects require the bathroom to be a wet room, where the floors are sloped to a drain in the center of the floor, and the entire bathroom works like a shower pan. This allows employees to completely hose out the room, utilizing the center drain. In these instances, healthcare contractors would need to plan for a slab depression to accommodate that slope within SurePods’ floor system.

Question: With that confusion cleared up, what’s the first step to consider when making the move to modular?

Whether working on a project that aligns with the “slab depression not required” rule, or in the healthcare sector, the key is to reach out to the manufacturer early. Early analysis with our engineer and project team is essential to ensure all parties understand how to properly integrate prefabrication into the architects’ and contractors’ vision. Problem-solving can occur before construction even begins, saving valuable time and, ultimately, bottom lines. The modeling process also affords a chance to address any concerns right out of the gate, providing a visual of how the modular bathroom units can fit into an overall design.

Get started today by reaching out to us at: [email protected].


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