Lessons Learned from Modular Builders

Modular and prefab homes are a lot more common now that their stigma is gone.  Home builders have come to see the benefits.  Modular building saves time and money, reduces mistakes and increases accuracy, and you can build the home the same time it is being prepped!  Furthermore, it increases worker efficiency.

Part of why modular building had stigma was because it was synonymous with “boring” and “cookie-cutter” looking houses.  However, now you have design options “to include everything from two-story traditional Colonials to a single-level Spanish-style home to modern glass boxes.”  Modular building, as it’s come along, is becoming a more attractive way to build homes from a home buyer and a home builder perspective.

With a skilled labor shortage, the possibility for saving up to 66.5 hours of labor compare to a stick built home is very appealing to contractors.  Along with saving in labor cost, modular building is becoming more popular for multifamily projects and hotels.  Here are some lessons we can learn from modular building for use in the entire construction industry.

Modular homes
Both of these homes are modular!

Your Team is Everything

First, ensure you train your workers well and know the whole home building process.  By having a standard operating procedure you can train workers workers evenly across the board.  Each worker will know what everyone is doing.  That increases safety and saves time.

Second, working as a team is important.  Along with all workers understanding the whole process, have a full team meeting early in the process.  This style of building starts in 3-D modeling and then physical built.  With a meeting early on, with all workers from electrical to plumbing and everything in between you can discover any changes before physical building starts.

Third, with the first two combined, the whole team will share the vision.  Make sure all workers know the whole process and work as a team, this will ensure the team shares the modular vision.  Modular building is closer to manufacturing than it is traditional construction.  Therefore, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page.

Use Technology & Lean Principles

As mentioned previously, modular building starts in 3-D modeling.  3-D modeling can help to reveal any errors before physical building starts.  Since these components are manufactured, CNC machines are used to cut materials, ensuring exact measurements.

This limits the potential for order changes.  The 3-D modeling helps the builder and home buyer see everything before building starts, increasing confidence.  Also, once the panels and pods are completed it is very costly to redo them, this deters people from making changes.

Lean Construction gears towards reducing waste and improving efficiency.  One lean principle example is “using a shadow board to store job site tools can help to reduce time spent hunting for missing equipment.”  As well, lean principles encourage all team members to make suggestions for improvement.

Conclusion

Modular building came about for a way to provide the best service, best materials, and best turn around for home building.  It’s not about whipping out houses, it’s about building the best product that home buyers and builders can be confident in.  Now, with a wide variety of design choices, those that have a particular style preference can be happy with modular building as well!  These lessons from modular building are applicable across the construction industry.  Newer isn’t always better, but in this case, it is and has been proven.

Original source: ConstructionDive

Image sources: inhabitat & Modular Today