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Modular vs. Off-Site Construction: Aren’t They the Same Thing?

Modular vs. Off-Site Construction: Aren’t They the Same Thing?

Finding efficiencies in the building process is at the top of everyone’s ROI priorities. Improvements in construction technology in recent years have led to an increase in modular and off-site builds, and they’re both used to save time and money. But, aren’t these construction types the same? Let’s take a deeper look to sort out the differences.

Understanding Off-Site Construction

We can define the broader picture this way: Remember learning the premise that all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares? The same holds true for modular and off-site construction. All modular builds are off-site, but not all off-site builds are modular.

Let’s also establish that off-site building has several advantages over on-site construction. Assembling large structural elements in a climate-controlled factory virtually eliminates weather delays, removes the travel expenses of transporting and accommodating a whole crew, diminishes on-site safety issues, and greatly improves bottom-line return for investors thanks to timeline predictability.

Additionally, in areas with short building seasons, materials can be assembled off-site and brought in at the ideal point in the construction schedule. In places where accessibility is limited, such as tight urban plots, off-site building also saves precious space while lessening noise and activity, which in turn keeps down complaints from neighbors. And, in light of today’s difficulties securing qualified labor, off-site factory-based construction requires fewer people to get the job done, saving even more time and money.

The Off-Site Process

Off-site construction as a whole includes a wide range of possibilities, including modular builds, wall builds, and assembling individual elements of the structure, such as timber framing. When timber frames are constructed off-site, whether they’re glue laminated or heavy timber, incredible precision is possible, with craftsmen poring over every detail to create beautiful, structurally sound elements. Trusses, posts, beams, and more can be created off-site and brought to the build, adding the perfect aesthetics and structural components the architect intended.

Making It Modular

Alternately, in modular construction, it’s often entire cubes of built space that are created in a factory and moved as a whole unit to the construction site. Other options include complete floors or precast concrete wall sections that are trucked in and lowered into position. Modular construction can also be temporary or permanent, depending on future plans for the site. Take, for example, temporary schoolrooms or hospital additions that are needed while the main building is undergoing construction for permanent changes.

While aspects of off-site and modular building elements may differ, each have their own advantages. With modular, pre-wiring is possible, and once sections are set into place, the new spaces are nearly ready for use. In the case of cookie-cutter rooms, as in hotels or dormitories, this may be the preferred construction style to meet deadlines and targeted costs. Likewise, with off-site timber frame construction, structural strength and soaring elegance can be achieved without on-site inefficiencies and weather delays.

Timber Frames Built Off-Site, Delivered On Time

At Mid-Atlantic Timberframes, our expert craftsmen know firsthand the benefits of off-site construction. If you have questions or are ready to get started, contact us to begin a conversation about off-site construction for your timber frame home, barn, event venue, or commercial structure. Let’s build something amazing together!

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