Modular Construction vs Traditional Construction

When constructing a new building, there are many methods that can be used. You can use precast panels, flat slabs, or steel beams. You can start with the basement, a deep foundation, build on the pier and beam, or modular pieces. Modular construction involves sections of the building being factory-assembled and perfected before being transported in pieces for rapid on-site construction. Where traditional construction builds from the ground up, modular construction can add walls, rooms, and layouts with engineered segments.

We are taking a closer look at the difference between modular and traditional construction. Knowing your options in construction is the best way to create your ideal structure within your project goals.

What is Considered Modular Construction

Modular construction is the assembly of pre-built sections of a building, making for extremely fast on-site construction and buildings with factory-perfect efficiency. Modular structures are at least 70% finished in the factory before delivery to the construction site. This partial completion makes them unique from other prefab construction materials like windows or kitchen sets.

Modular construction takes advantage of the factory floor environment to build engineered and inspected walls, room segments, and structural features. The energy efficiency comes from joints designed to seal with excellent structural support and airflow control. Every window is installed perfectly. Every outlet is already perfectly boxed. 

Modular construction is capable of rapid production, which is quite practical for large commercial spaces. However, pieces are also typically made to the client’s order using the modular factory method. Clients can choose from a standard catalog of things like windows, facades, and floor plans. Even highly detailed customization is possible, but all the pieces of modular construction will be built in the factory, inspected, and designed to fit together on-site. The pieces fit together differently to make a different building.

What is Considered Traditional Construction

Traditional construction is the process of assembling a building from the ground up, often starting with a frame of wood or steel beams. The beams and floor are filled in by utilities, insulation, and drywall or exterior siding. Joints in rooms have dead space in between, or enough space can become a closet.

Traditional construction allows for a great breadth of creativity and unique details. Traditional construction also allows for small variations like closets, angles, turrets, balconies, and chimneys that can be redesigned to fit into an otherwise rectangular design. 

New building being built

Modular Construction Vs. Traditional Construction

Most construction is done using traditional methods. However, it has since included prepared features like pre-sealed windows, pre-hung doorframes, and fit-together kitchen sets. Modular construction is a natural evolution of the double-paned window, a factory-perfect installation that revolutionized energy efficiency a few decades before. 

Every building starts and ends with traditional construction methods. Seams must be sealed; final touches must go in. But the ability to “copy-paste” has been a construction secret to success for centuries. This is particularly true in commercial construction, where you may need entire floors of nearly identical elements like offices, lobbies, dining, or event spaces. Modular construction can then be used to quickly duplicate standard designs without precluding your ability to customize and finish the building using the tried-and-true traditional methods.

You can have both. Not only can you customize your commissioned modules, but you can also apply traditional construction methods to alter assembled modules into any interior you design.

Both Types of Construction Must Meet Building Permit and Code Requirements

Part of the building permit process ensures that all structures are safe, no matter how constructed. Modular design is engineered to meet building codes, but your entire building must meet your local authority’s structural and design requirements.

Modular construction pieces can be adapted to local building codes, and traditional construction experts can determine the best way to ensure the structure is sound and code-compliant throughout construction.

Which is Right for Your Project? Contact Gateway Building Company

Does your commercial construction project call for modular construction or traditional construction? It all depends on the design, schedule, and budget you hope to meet. At Gateway Building Company, we can help you determine the most efficient and elegant solution for your building project using modular, traditional, or both types of construction based on your needs.

Contact us to consult on your commercial building plans or discuss the finer points of modular vs. traditional construction. Learn more about how Gateway Building Company can help you with your next project.

Image Credit: Jarama And Sculpies On Shutterstock

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