There are several construction challenges in the New York metro area, including rising demand for affordable housing, as well as the greater pressures laid on the shoulders of builders and firms to make up for budgetary shortfalls or face blacklisting. It’s therefore not a surprise that people in the industry have their ears to the ground for the next great idea that’s going to cut costs and delays without sacrificing quality.
According to recent reports, modular construction may be the solution that New York City builders consider. While this method is seldom used, costs continue to increase, which appears to be outpacing any risk factors that kept it out of the running before. Current construction projects in the area that use modular methods include the AC NoMad Modular Hotel by Marriott the affordable housing structure at 581 Grant Ave, numerous other real estate ventures.
Modular Construction, In a Nutshell
For those that haven’t looked carefully at the process before, the words “modular construction” might hearken to mental images of trailers and the Sears catalog houses of yore: Prefabricated, cookie-cutter designs. In truth, the kind of modular construction that’s coming into vogue in NYC uses the same materials, techniques, and standards as your facility built the traditional way. The structure is broken down into sections, or modules, that are constructed in factory settings, then transported and fitted on site.
What Kinds of Cost Benefits Are There to Modular Construction?
Modular.org reports that building in this way has many benefits, including:
- A safer, indoor work environment with fewer dangers for construction workers and fewer potentially costly liabilities;
- Reduced material waste through careful control of inventory and recycling materials where possible;
- Faster completion, up to 30 to 50 percent faster than conventional projects because work in the factory setting and the foundation can happen at the same time;
- Fewer water delays due to weather, because the majority of construction is completed indoors, and more.
All of the above benefits have their ways of saving money, whether by reducing the cost of materials by reducing waste, or by eliminating a number of potential delays. The latter is especially crucial at a time when the law as it stands means penalties for construction firms that are deemed to be taking too long on certain projects.
Despite the build-transport-assemble system, the result, once completed, looks no different than structures built on-site in a conventional way.
Do Risks Outweigh the Benefits?
There are likely several reasons, other than lack of awareness, that modular construction only accounts for about five percent of commercial construction projects. For instance, Million Acres reports that modular construction can pose a problem in a few instances:
- Transporting the modules poses its own unique challenges, given their size and delicacy.
- Installing them once transported, especially in dense urban areas, will likewise be an issue to negotiate.
- Zoning laws, which differ from locale to locale, may prevent its use.
- While modular projects allow for lots of customization, it’s not as versatile as more conventional means.
For now, a growing trend in using modular construction in commercial and residential ventures continues, with unusual optimism concerning cost-effective, affordable housing initiatives.