What Are Modular Buildings?

What are Modular Buildings?

Modular buildings are a modern method of construction that consist of multiple sections of pre-fabricated units called “modules” or “bays”. Think of it like a jigsaw made up of numerous pieces. Modules are built off-site in a factory and are delivered to site with the use of lorries and mobile cranes. Modular buildings can be placed side by side, end on end and stacked on top of each other to create vast building systems.

What are the uses of modular buildings?

Modular buildings can be used create temporary or permanent facilities. Industry sectors such as education, construction, housing, leisure, retail, healthcare and corporate offices have used modular buildings extensively on both short and long term intervals. Examples of uses in education include classrooms, nurseries, changing rooms, gyms, dining halls, storage solutions, drama and dance studios and administration offices. We have even created spaces for medical rooms and sensory rooms for SEN requirements.

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What are the benefits?

We have broken the benefits of modular buildings down into the following benefits;

1. Off-site Manufacturing
Modules are manufactured in a controlled factory environment which leads to a higher quality, precision finish. Material waste is kept to a minimum due to the better levels of quality control.

Off-site manufacturing avoids common traditional construction delays such as bad weather conditions which can have a large impact on construction times. A controlled manufacturing process within the factory leads to a better quality of finish and fewer defects. 85% of snagging can also be completed at this stage, keeping the work force in a comfortable, safe and warm environment which can reduce the risk of injury.

2. Construction and Manufacturing Lead Times
When compared to traditional construction methods, modular buildings can be up to 70% faster for completion times. These savings come from being able to run two or more construction processes at the same time, such as on-site ground works and the manufacture of the building within the factory.

3. Environmental Impact
Traditional construction requires vehicle movements at almost every point of the project. The transport of labour, materials, waste collection and plant vehicles release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Modular construction minimises the movement of labour by up to 75% and the movement on commercial vehicle traffic by up to 40%.*

Waste is also kept to a minimum due to tighter quality control on material use and procurement. Studies by the Steel Construction Institute (which highlight the benefits of modern methods of construction) showed waste could be reduced by as much as 40%, meaning less would be going into landfill.

4. Less Disruption
As 85-90% of construction is off-site, there is less disruption. This includes vehicle movements, litter, noise, dust and traffic management systems. With faster build times and less activity on the proposed site, the local residents and environment will benefit.


How much do modular buildings cost? Are they cheaper than traditional buildings?

As many modular buildings are made to order, it is dependant on a number of factors – including the design complexity, materials and the size of the build. Having a building cost per square metre is only helpful as a rough starting point and it would be helpful in your early planning stage to speak to a modular building professional or architect with modular industry experience. Traditional construction can range from £1,600.00 per square meter up to £3,700.00 in central London (2016 -2018 Study). The new modular buildings we manufacture can range in price from approximately £700.00 per square meter up to £1,650.00.

Do you need planning permission for modular buildings?

Yes. Any modular building on site for a period of over 28 days requires modular building planning consent regardless of size.

Do you need building regulations for modular buildings?

As with planning permission, you need to comply with all building regulations for modular buildings – including Part L2 building regulations. There are certain exemptions to L2 regulations which include;

Modular buildings under 50sq/m in size.
Modular buildings for use as a place of worship.
Modular buildings sold on a shell and core basis – the rights then pass to the purchaser of the building to seek compliance with building regulations.

Foundations for Modular Buildings

Foundations for modular buildings are equally as important as that of a traditional build. You need to ensure the building has the appropriate footing to suit the ground type it is to be sited on. Modular buildings require the foundation base to distribute the point loadings over designated areas of the whole footprint, rather than just the perimeter like traditional construction. A ground survey should always be conducted to avoid any potential issues with the proposed location. The use of a structural engineer is advised as they will advise on the best type of foundation for the project.

What type of foundations are there?

There are three main types of foundations used to site a modular building. These are:

1. A shallow excavation of the earth which is then replaced with a compacted hardcore substrate (road stone) or poured concrete. The levels are then built up using 600mm x 600m concrete paving slabs or concrete blocks.

2. For more complex sites that have unsuitable ground conditions, a project may require the installation of a piled foundation reinforced with steel bars and plates to provide a suitable base for the building.

3. A project that is being installed onto a hard standing area such as concrete may benefit in the installation of a low-impact foundation such as the JackPad system. This system allows for the foundations to sit directly onto the concrete floor without the need for excavation. This has numerous benefits including the reduction of time on site, noise, waste and cost.