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Modular Building Explained

What is modular construction

Modular construction is the process of building construction units remotely and then delivering them on site, to be fully assembled. These individual, steel-framed prefabricated units are known as “modules” and are built off-site, under controlled factory conditions.

The connection of these modules enables the construction of a wide range of modular buildings, which can be of any size, with multiple storeys.

This method has many advantages. Manufacturers are more capable of managing costs effectively with modular construction. Projects are not disrupted by extreme weather conditions or other challenging site conditions, helping to save costs and prevent delays.

How modular construction works: assembling modules on site

1. Individual factory-built modules are positioned by crane.

Modular Building Assembly


2. The required modules are added, side-by-side or end-to-end, to create the required floor area.

Modular Building Construction


3. A single building is created. The interior layout can be designed to your precise specifications using partition walls, stairs and lifts.

Steel Modular Construction


4. Extra storeys can be added to create all the space you need.

Modular Building Blocks

Modular construction video 

This time-lapse video shows the speed of modular construction. The building, which was constructed in Reading for Foster Wheeler, comprises 78 modules assembled over an eight-day period. The video clearly shows how large Portakabin buildings are constructed using the modular building method. Foster Wheeler is a global engineering contractor and power equipment supplier.

What are the benefits of modular construction?

Modular construction is rapidly becoming the building method of choice for organisations that need assured-quality buildings completed quickly and on schedule, with minimal disruption to the environment or the local area. No other construction method can match the speed of delivery, minimal waste and disruption, and future flexibility of modular building. 

The benefits of Portakabin modular constructions are multiple:

  • Modular construction is up to 50% faster than traditional site-based construction1
  • Factory-based construction minimises time spent on site – which means reduced noise and disruption, and a cleaner, safer construction site
  • Cost and time certainty – modular construction projects are not subject to weather-related delays or shortages of on-site skills. In fact, Portakabin has a track record of delivering 99.7% of building projects on time and on budget.2 That compares very favourably with the construction-industry average of just 45% completed on time and 63% on budget3
  • Assured quality standardsPortakabin has earned the ISO 9001 certification for its quality-management systems, which cover everything from office processes to manufacturing procedures. Portakabin buildings are manufactured in a factory accredited to ISO 14001 for its environmental-management systems
  • Future flexibility – it’s easy to expand, reduce, reconfigure or even relocate modular buildings to meet your changing needs
  • Minimal waste – by constructing your building off site, up to 90% less site waste is generated than on traditional construction sites4
  • Fewer defects – all Portakabin 
    buildings meet strict quality standards, and we operate a zero-tolerance policy towards defects
  • Fewer vehicle movements – there are up to 90% fewer vehicle movements to, from and on the construction site,5 minimising transport-related emissions and disruption

Benefits of modular construction

What are the different types of modular construction?

Due to its multiple benefits, modular construction is a popular method for:

  • Construction – High-security and flexible prefabricated buildings can be used as site offices, marketing suites, canteens, changing and mess rooms on construction sites.
  • Education – Modular school buildings can accommodate growing student numbers easily, covering the entire education spectrum, from small nurseries to university and college facilities.
  • Offices - Portable offices are ideal for companies whose workers move around often. Besides their rapid installation, they offer unlimited flexibility at a controlled cost.
  • Healthcare – Built to the most stringent healthcare building regulations, modular constructions are a great solution for ward units, treatment rooms, GP and dental surgeries, and more.
  • Emergency Accommodation – Factory-built prefabricated units can be assembled on-site rapidly, which makes them an ideal solution following an emergency such as a fire, flood or extreme weather.
  • Storage – Steel-frame, robust unit can be used for secure document and site storage. These also ensure protection against theft and vandalism.
  • Events – Whether you need catering units, reception suites, ticket offices or dressing rooms, modular buildings provide high-quality, flexible solutions for any event.
  • Toilets Showers & Changing Rooms – Easy to install and available in a variety of layouts, portable toilets and washrooms can be designed for disabled persons' facilities, children's toilets for primary school pupils and multi-cultural washrooms to meet the requirements of different nationalities and religions.
  • Specialist Uses – Due to their great flexibility, modular constructions can meet the demand of many applications, such as laboratories, gatehouses, retail units, training rooms, dance and fitness studios, and more.

Portakabin offers a wide range of building uses suitable for many applications. All modules are fitted out with electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and all internal finishes at the factory. They can be built to any size and any given number of storeys, and can also be connected to other modules.

360 view

Discover the benefits of modular construction for your business

For more information on modular construction solutions from Portakabin, read our free brochure or download our free guide on project management.

1. Research carried out by BCIS for RICS Construction Faculty 2004.
2. Based on Portakabin order analysis for January 2003 - June 2011.
3. Source: UKIndustry Performance Report 2011, Constructing Excellence/Glenigan.
4. Source: WRAP. 
5. Source: Mtech.

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© Portakabin 2019  |  Portakabin (Ireland) Limited, Roseville Business Park, Turvey Avenue, Donabate, Co Dublin   |   Tel: 01 808 5055
Registered company number 212248


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