Study Expects Growth for Prefabrication and Modular Construction

Dodge Data & Analytics released the findings of a study that provides an examination of the current state and future expectations for prefabrication and modular construction. The Prefabrication and Modular Construction 2020 SmartMarket Report was published with the support of Bradley Corp., the Modular Building Institute, Pinnacle Infotech, MCAA and Skender and takes a close look at drivers, obstacles and benefits of using these methods, based on insight from architects, engineers and contractors already leveraging them.

The report shows that architects, engineers and contractors that have used these methods plan to increase their engagement with them, especially for healthcare facilities, hotels and motels, multifamily projects, and college buildings and dormitories, which are at the vanguard of the new wave of interest in these methods. Critical trends in the construction industry, such as shorter project schedules and workforce shortages, are several drivers of wider use of these methods, and technology – like building information modeling – is enabling increased use.

In order to better understand the critical drivers and obstacles for using these methods and the benefits achieved, the study focuses on the architects, engineers and contractors that are already using them.

When it comes to methods already in use, the study shows that:

  • Prefabricating single-trade assemblies (such as plumbing assemblies behind the wall in hospital rooms) is widely practiced, with 62 percent of respondents using prefabricated single-trade assemblies in the last three years.
  • 48 percent of those doing modular are using panelized modular components (such as wall or floor panels).
  • Use of each of these methods is also expected to increase in the next three years, with the percentage of those leveraging them on 10 percent or more of their projects nearly 15 points higher than present use.

However, most interesting growth is expected in practices less widely used now:

  • Prefabricated multi-trade assemblies, which involve the work of several trades combined together (such as a corridor rack in a hospital) will be used by 58 percent of those doing prefabrication in general—up dramatically from the 33 percent using this approach now.
  • Equally dramatic growth is seen among those doing modular construction in the use of full volumetric approach, in which entire parts of buildings (such as bathrooms or hotel and hospital rooms) are delivered preconstructed onsite and assembled together. Sixty-one percent expect to employ that method at least 10 percent of their projects in the next three years, up from just 44 percent of those doing modular construction who report using this method currently.

“It comes as no surprise to us that more developers and GCs plan to use modular construction over the next few years,” says Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute. “The lack of adequate housing and the shortage of skilled labor, coupled with chronic cost and schedule overruns are leading more people towards this process.”

And when it comes to benefits of use:

  • About 90 percent report that they achieve improved productivity, improved quality and increased schedule certainty when using these methods compared to traditional stick-built construction.
  • 80 percent or more also report that they see improved cost predictability, reduced waste and increased client satisfaction.
  • Improved schedule performance, decreased construction costs and improved quality are also the top drivers for increasing their use of prefabrication and modular construction in the next three years.

“Dodge’s research clearly shows that prefabrication and modular construction are providing significant improvements and efficiencies, and charting a new course in our industry,” says Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development for Bradley Corp. “Throughout our almost 100 years, Bradley has kept a close eye on emerging trends that impact our business and customers. We appreciate the partnership with Dodge in helping us examine innovative opportunities to hone our business strategy.”

The use of building information modeling (BIM) is also tied to the experience of those benefits. Among those using BIM on the majority of their projects, 60 percent credit it with improving the schedule performance of their prefabricated or modular projects, and 50 percent with improving budget performance. “BIM improves the prefabrication and modular process by providing the means to accelerate the design early enough to take advantage of these approaches and then offering certainty during the entire process,” says Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights at Dodge Data and Analytics. “Having these tools helps enable the industry to invest more in the use of multi-trade assemblies and volumetric construction in particular, and may be contributing to the strong growth expected in these areas.”

The greatest growth in the use of these methods will be in building types in which they are already well established, such as healthcare facilities, hotels and motels, multifamily and college buildings and dormitories. However, a sizable percentage also expect low-rise offices, K-12 schools, public buildings and commercial warehouse to experience a high frequency of use of prefabrication or modular construction.

Download the Prefabrication and Modular Construction 2020 SmartMarket Report.

About Bradley: For over 95 years, Bradley has created the most complete and advanced commercial washrooms and comprehensive solutions that make industrial environments safe. Bradley is the industry’s leading source for multi-function hand washing and drying fixtures, accessories, partitions, solid plastic lockers, as well as emergency safety fixtures and electric tankless heaters for industrial applications. Headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis., USA, Bradley serves commercial, institutional and industrial building markets worldwide. For more information visit https://www.bradleycorp.com.

About MBI: Founded in 1983, the Modular Building Institute (MBI) is the international non-profit trade association serving modular construction. MBI strives to keep up with the latest trends of the modular/offsite construction industry and has expanded its membership over the years to include architects, owner/developers, and general contractors. As the Voice of Commercial Modular Construction (TM), it is MBI’s mission to expand the use of offsite construction through innovative construction practices, outreach and education to the construction community and customers, and recognition of high quality modular designs and facilities.

About Dodge Data & Analytics: Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of analytics and software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Building product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and service providers leverage Dodge to identify and pursue unseen growth opportunities and execute on those opportunities for enhanced business performance. Whether it’s on a local, regional or national level, Dodge makes the hidden obvious, empowering its clients to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, size growth opportunities, and pursue those opportunities with success. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry. Dodge is leveraging its 100-year-old legacy of continuous innovation to help the industry meet the building challenges of the future. To learn more, visit www.construction.com.

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