COO at Pro Homes America LLC.
WHY not considering modular for your next Student
Often, the most significant barrier to developing new housing
is cost. Many schools are struggling to make ends meet, and
the idea of raising additional funds for new residence halls
or student apartments is daunting. A second challenge is timing.
No university administrator or planner wants the campus to
be disrupted by construction during the school year. But it's
unrealistic to try to confine housing projects to the summer
months, when fewer students are on campus.
Long-term construction can undermine a school's goal of providing
a comfortable and attractive campus experience. Construction
sites can pose safety risks for students and staff who have
to pass by heavy equipment and other construction elements
on their way around campus. And safety is even more of a concern
during weekends, when partying students may be less aware
of potential hazards.
One potential solution to these challenges that university
officials generally overlook is modular housing.
Modular Building Systems have been around for more than a
century. With modular, individual modules are built off-campus
in a factory to the specifications of campus planners or architects.
When complete, the newly constructed residences are transported
to campus and put in place.
The two primary advantages to this approach are cost and completion
time. If properly designed and constructed, modular housing
can be developed for less then to equal of the cost of traditional
housing and still meet the highest quality standards. Because
the residence halls or apartments are constructed off-campus,
the majority of the development process has no physical impact
on the campus. Once the completed product is transported to
the university, the setup can be completed in a matter of
Completion speed also can have a huge effect on funding. If
a building can be completed in a few months rather than in
a year, financing costs can be reduced, and funding can be
obtained more readily.
So if Modular Building Systems are so attractive, why don't
more universities choose this approach? The primary reason
is that the modular industry hasn’t done a good job
of marketing it self in the past.
However, that doesn't have to be the case. We have many reputable
modular companies operate throughout the United States that
are capable of building high-quality manufactured housing
for colleges and universities.
Although modular isn't the right choice for every campus,
it can be an attractive option in the right circumstances.
In fact, the very nature of modular construction ties in well
to the typical campus housing approach. Generally, a residence
hall or campus apartment building houses uniform populations
with similar needs: a desk, closets, dressers and room for
a bed, for instance. The uniformity of modular design is perfectly
suited to the needs of most campus housing facilities.
Additionally, Modular Systems can be created from all of the
other materials that are generally used for campus housing.
Residence halls more than three or four stories can be constructed
from steel frames, concrete, or a combination of the two.
Similarly, student apartments and smaller residence halls
can be constructed of virtually any building material, including
BSN Builder /CEO Grant Smereczynsky 770-231-4462 or
Vice President at Deluxe Building Systems, Inc.
Additionally, the typical college and university tend to
be very environmentally conscious. The modular system lends
itself extremely well to all green programs, including the
LEED program. With very little or even no additional cost
to the project, modular dormitories can easily contribute
enough LEED points to accomplish LEED Certified at a minimum,
with the correct project site features.
Shawn P. Mullins
Engineering Management - Manufactured Housing & Commercial/Residential
This approach has already become popular with certain branches
of the military for many of the same reasons already mentioned.
The repetitive nature of their layouts, flexibility between
in-factory and on-site construction needs, and consistent
bid/scope process makes it suitable for modular manufacturers.
Something else to consider is that a modular manufacturer
often builds a prototype "unit" in these situations
for the buyer to physically walk and inspect. This provides
a great opportunity to get a feel for the repetitive living
spaces before all of them are produced. If changes are deemed
necessary from the prototype, it is a lot easier and cheaper
to do it at that stage than after the rest of the building
has been built. Try doing that with a site constructed complex!
It should be noted that the military and the GCs they use
(modular manufactures are sub-contractors in this type of
arrangement) had to be convinced this would work. Eventually
that was accomplished and it continues to be a progression
to "share" that knowledge and understanding. The
product and overall system sells itself. Now that there are
successful modular barracks and other military developments
in use, it should be easier to demonstrate modular's superior
effectiveness to the colleges. All it takes is someone to
connect the dots for them and show them what is out there
now. There are a lot of creative solutions already in use
and likely many more to come.
COO at Pro Homes America LLC.
Some additional thoughts are the client, or developer, must
consider each project in terms of the amount of difficulty
he is likely to encounter and the amount of time the difficulties
are expected to consume building it traditional on site construction.
These typical challenges are composed of numerous and divergent
issues such as local agency approvals, projected costs, construction
logistics and the likelihood of a healthy market for his project
at the time of completion. All of these issues have a common
denominator, uncertainty. We are not suggesting that every
project can be adapted to our process. There are some structures
that must be built on-site. But we do know that under the
majority of normal conditions, the off-site construction method
can reduce or eliminate many of the issues that plague site-built
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not considering modular for your next Student Housing project?