July 9, 2018

Prefab, Modular, and Off-Site Construction - Are they the same?

The concept of offsite, prefabricated, and modular construction isn’t new. With the growing technological advancements in the construction industry, the world has been reintroduced to cost-effective and faster alternatives to traditional construction. These alternatives are called as offsite, prefab, or modular by people. But, these terms don’t mean the same. Though they may seem to be similar by the name, there is a difference between all the three terms. In this article, we’ll talk about how these construction methods differ from each other.

Offsite Construction

Offsite construction is an umbrella term for many different types of construction. Prefab and modular construction fall under offsite construction. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences(NIBS), offsite construction involves planning, designing, fabrication, and assembly of a building at a location other than the actual area for rapid assembly at the site. Unlike traditional construction, offsite construction is less time consuming, sustainable, safe, cost efficient, and flexible. Though the benefits are the same, the only difference is the set of rules and the design of the structures. In this type of construction structures are manufactured in a controlled environment and are transported to the actual site. Also, it is possible to monitor the quality of every section of the structure, which is not possible in case of on-site or traditional construction.

Prefab Construction

Prefab construction comes under offsite construction. Any structure that has its section designed in a factory are termed as prefabricated. Both modular and pre-manufactured structures fall under prefab construction. The construction of prefab structures must adhere to the state and federal building codes, and must undergo regular inspection. This kind of stringent inspection and guideline of construction make prefab structures sturdy as the on-site structures.

Modular Construction

This is the most widely used term in the construction field. Modular construction falls under the blanket term of prefab construction. In modular construction the whole structures are built in three-dimensional boxes or in the form of modules, which are transported from the manufacturing unit to the site of installation. These structures are constructed as per the rules and regulations for stick built homes. Furthermore, modular structures can be manufactured for temporary or permanent use. Permanent modular structures are preferred for schools, banks, and hospitals or structures built with an aim to last for a decade or more. Whereas temporary modular structures are built to fulfill the temporary needs such as portable bathrooms, construction site offices at remote areas, and showrooms.

In simpler terms, the difference between these structures can be thought of as three concentric circles. The outermost circle is offsite construction, the second inner circle is prefab construction, and the innermost circle is the modular construction. Now you can easily distinguish between these terms. At Northgate Industries, we understand your needs and construct structures that fit in your necessities. For more information about offsite, prefab, and modular construction, contact us.

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