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Why Your First Modular Project is the Hardest

Think back to when you first learned to ride a bike. Chances are you started with training wheels or a parent or older sibling running behind and holding you up. Once you finally had to try balancing without assistance, you likely wobbled and weaved – perhaps in terror – until you realized, “hey, I can do this!” and off you rode. We can compare this experience to your first modular project.

As with anything in life, the first time doing something new is usually the hardest – whether it’s giving a speech, running a marathon or using modular construction in a project. A recent article entitled “New York’s Modular Building Revolution is Here,” captures well the essential situation of modular construction – in one paragraph:

“Long-time advocates point out that this building method can take half the time than traditional ones, while its controlled manufacturing assures higher quality and less material waste. But its acceptance has long been stymied by hesitant developers, unions, government officials and others who are resistant to change, and, in some cases, afraid of losing work.”

This alone shows that modular buildings are positive, despite the reluctance of some. Commercial modular buildings are even being produced now, with shipping container restaurants becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to conventionally built buildings. This way, restaurants can be opened faster whilst being equipped with a modern, comfortable, and customized facility. For developers and owners, this hesitancy among key players means your first modular project will be the hardest, until the project team has had a chance to try modular and experience the benefits firsthand. There are so many new things to consider with your first modular project that you’ve not had to deal with before. For example, choosing the best Modular Building HVAC Systems to use on your modular building is often challenging. There are many different HVAC brands to choose from and it is easy to get swamped in all the choices. This decision can be made easier by visiting Green Horizon One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning and reading their list of the top 5 HVAC brands.

Getting your GC on board with modular

More than one-third of contractors report their reason for not using prefab/modular in a project is either the owner didn’t ask for it, or the architect didn’t design for it – according to the Q1 Commercial Construction Index prepared by the US Chamber of Commerce and USG corporation. So, as an owner or developer interested in shaving months off your construction schedule and overcoming labor shortage hassles, remember to tell your architect and GC you intend to use prefab/modular. If need be, SurePods building experts can help them understand the process and how to be successful using prefab/modular. After all, there are plenty of successful prefab developments, seen through websites like Goldstar Buildings who offer a prefab garage of your choice. The aesthetic of these garages should be enough for anyone to agree that prefab is a great choice.

While your GC might not feel comfortable factoring in time savings from modular (and therefore cost savings as general conditions), we can meet with you and them on the calculations, so that everyone understands the cost implications and financial benefits. We can also put your contractor in contact with other GCs who can discuss how once they get over the first hurdle of starting to build in a new way, it gets easier the second time. And, since we might already have done work in your geographic market, we can bring subs or contractors to the table that have modular experience and can help guide you through the first project.

Getting started early is key!

If you’re intrigued about using modular bathrooms in your next development, the key to success is summed up as: Early, early, early! To fully get the value of pods, the decision should be made as early as possible, but no later than design documents. The later in the process the decision goes, the more likely that the architect and contractor become comfortable in doing things the “standard” way and the harder it is to introduce something new like pods to the process.

Once the decision to go prefab with bathroom pods is made early, a preliminary cost analysis can be run to validate the economic decision, and then some guidelines decided upon regarding how much the schedule could be accelerated with pods. If the indicator lights are green after these items are reviewed, then sign up the pod supplier in preconstruction to assist with scoping the prefab elements to assist the architect and contractor. The pod supplier in the pre-con phase can walk the architect and contractor through the small but important design elements that are impacted in going with pods, such as performing a Revit conflict analysis to ensure there are no MEP conflicts, or assisting the architect with the drawings to ensure the sizes of the pods are reflected correctly in the framing details.

These are just a few examples of technical details we assist clients with during pre-con to ensure a successful engagement with the entire project team. We have an entire checklist of technical issues we review with the project team, which is derived from all of our past experience, to ensure we cover all of the potential integration details.

To get started with prefab bathroom pods, contact us at: [email protected]. If you need help teaching one of your children or grandchildren to ride a bike, though, you’re on your own.


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