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Modular buildings and modular homes are sectional prefabricated buildings, or houses, that consist of multiple sections called modules. "Modular" is a method of construction differing from other methods of building. The module sections are constructed at an off site (sometimes, remote) facility, then delivered to the intended site of use. Complete construction of the prefabricated sections are completed on site. The prefabricated sections are sometimes lifted and placed on basement walls using a crane, the module prefabricated sections are set onto the building's foundation and joined together to make a single building. The modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing a wide variety of configurations and styles in the building layout.
Modular buildings, also called prefabricated homes or precision built homes, are built to the same or higher building standards as on-site stick-built homes. The building method is referred to as permanent modular construction. Modular homes are built the same and considered the same as a stick built home. Material for stick built and modular homes are the same. Modular homes are not doublewides or mobile homes. First, modular homes do not have axles or a metal frame, meaning that they are typically transported to their site by means of flat-bed trucks. Secondly, modular buildings must conform to all local building codes for their proposed use, while doublewides and mobile homes have metal under framing. Doublewides and mobile homes made in the United States, are required to conform to federal codes governed by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
The entire process of modular construction places significance on the design stage. This is where practices such as Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) are used to ensure that assembly tolerances are controlled throughout manufacture and assembly on site. It is vital that there is enough allowance in the design to allow the assembly to take up any "slack" or misalignment of components. The use of advanced CAD systems, 3D printing and manufacturing control systems are important for modular construction to be successful. This is quite unlike on-site construction where the tradesman can often make the part to suit any particular installation.
Construction is offsite, using lean manufacturing techniques to prefabricate single or multi-story buildings in deliverable module sections. PMC buildings are manufactured in a controlled setting and can be constructed of wood, steel, or concrete. Modular components are typically constructed indoors on assembly lines. Modules' construction may take as little as ten days but more often one to three months. PMC modules can be integrated into site built projects or stand alone and can be delivered with MEP, fixtures and interior finishes.
The buildings are 60% to 90% completed offsite in a factory-controlled environment, and transported and assembled at the final building site. This can comprise the entire building or be components or subassemblies of larger structures. In many cases, modular contractors work with traditional general contractors to exploit the resources and advantages of each type of construction. Completed modules are transported to the building site and assembled by a crane. Placement of the modules may take from several hours to several days.
Permanent modular buildings are built to meet or exceed the same building codes and standards as site-built structures and the same architect-specified materials used in conventionally constructed buildings are used in modular construction projects. PMC can have as many stories as building codes allow. Unlike relocatable buildings, PMC structures are intended to remain in one location for the duration of their useful life.
Modular buildings may be used for long-term, temporary or permanent facilities, such as construction camps, schools and classrooms, civilian and military housing, and industrial facilities. Modular buildings are used in remote and rural areas where conventional construction may not be reasonable or possible, for example, the Halley VI accommodation pods used for a BAS Antarctic expedition. Other uses have included churches, health care facilities, sales and retail offices, fast food restaurants and cruise ship construction. They can also be used in areas that have weather concerns, such as hurricanes.
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