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Are Factory Built Prefab Offices the future of commercial construction?

Modular is leading construction in so many ways, let us unpack some of it for you!

Modular construction is quickly becoming the preferred method for commercial building worldwide and, within this market, modular office buildings are the fastest-growing sector. The ‘Modular Building Institute Permanent Modular Construction Report 2020’ indicates that almost half of all modular construction in the US is focused on the commercial office market.

In Australia, while not yet the same volume as the US, prefabricated buildings are growing in this sector and offer a series of advantages over conventional builds. Tasbuilt has a number of completed office projects and many others confirmed in our schedule for the coming months because of the key benefits prefabricated, modular buildings can provide.

The changing office environment

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have questioned the purpose of traditional office space and are re-evaluating what the new office normal may look like and where it may be located. Despite the rise in working from home, there are key reasons why we may see an increase in the construction of prefabricated modular offices to meet new working space demands.

  • Suburban offices: Post-pandemic and with rising living costs, employees may be reluctant to commute long distances to work and will look to save both time and dollars. Not everyone has a suitable home office, yet they still require somewhere to work . The emergence of smaller office buildings located in suburban areas is one option.

  • Satellite offices: On a similar theme, many businesses are reconsidering whether they need all their staff working in a central office in a major city such as Hobart. Besides the cost of city centre real estate, a disease outbreak is more likely if all your staff are working in one building and the impact on the business of a shut down for a week or more can have serious commercial consequences. To reduce risk and save money, satellite offices, where back-office teams work in lower-cost locations while customer-facing staff stay in the city office are another option.

  • Maintaining social distancing: Before the pandemic, office managers were trying to pack more employees into existing floor space. However, in future it’s likely staff will insist on a minimum amount of personal space to reduce the spread of all kinds of disease. This may require companies to increase the amount of office space they have – either on existing sites or further afield.

These trends make it likely that companies will consider a wider variety of office space in more locations and prefabricated, modular office buildings can help companies rapidly respond to the new working space demands.

Why choose pre-fabricated office buildings?

If your organisation is looking to meet the changing trends in office demand, modular office buildings provide plenty of benefits.

  • Move in to your new office sooner: The manufacturing process is not linear like conventional builds, so construction in the factory can occur at the same time as site preparation, reducing the overall time for completion. Construction delays for weather-related events are also avoided which saves time and means labour is optimised instead of waiting around for a sunny day! Numerous case studies demonstrate that modular buildings take 25-50 per cent less time to build than traditional buildings (MBI-PMC Annual report 2020) providing a quicker return on investment and accommodating your needs earlier.
  • Identical design and branding: If a company operates several offices, using modular construction can really contribute to brand identity and a seamless experience for employees and visitors. Tasbuilt can design and build a range of offices and other buildings with specific finishes, materials and colours so that all of your company’s buildings can look and feel the same as each other.

  • Attractive design: Modular office designs have come a long way in recent years. Modern designs are sophisticated, aesthetically pleasing and use attractive materials that are more appealing than a standard grey office building.

  • Potential to modify, add to, recycle or relocate: If future flexibility is what you are after, Tasbuilt can design and build your office for growth such as the ability to move internal walls as the company’s requirements change, add new complementary modules or fully relocate the office to a new site.

  • Address labour shortages: Australia is currently experiencing acute labour shortages in the construction sector. By having a factory workforce and more efficient processes, pre-fabricated building requires fewer workers. There is also less travel time and expense demanded of tradespeople getting to the site which can help to at least partially address this problem and speed up construction time.

  • Reduce waste: The construction industry is responsible for significant waste. Modular construction helps here, thanks to the efficiency of manufacturing and the ability to define exactly how much of each material is required for a project. This reduces the over-ordering of materials. Plus, any packaging the materials arrive in, is easily recycled or disposed of at the factory rather than costly disposal from the site or littering of the official site.

Modular buildings are also easier to take apart and recycle. Whether it’s entire prefabricated office buildings, or individual components (wall frames or facades), it’s possible to take these buildings apart and re-use materials later. This further reduces waste.

  • Less disruption: Since most components of the office are completed in the factory, there is significantly less truck traffic, equipment and material suppliers around the final construction site with a prefabricated build. This limits the disruption in contrast to conventional construction sites that suffer from noise, pollution, waste and other common irritants. This streamlined approach to construction provides a far more efficient atmosphere for productivity and eliminates unnecessary distractions and interference that are typical of conventional builds.

  • Lower environmental impact: Modular construction achieves a much lower environmental impact than other more traditional building methods. Since most of the building takes place in a factory, the process releases much less dust and pollution into the surrounding area when putting up the building itself. There are also fewer carbon emissions associated with producing modular buildings. It is simply more energy efficient when you can construct components in a factory compared to directly on site.

  • Greater quality control: When putting together a module in a factory environment, it is possible for the production manager to perform far more rigorous quality control assessments than on a traditional building site. Visual inspections and quality checks can be done much more easily and take significantly less time than if the project manager has to walk around a half-built structure.

An exciting future for modular office buildings

With changes in expectations about where offices are located and how these spaces are used, it seems reasonable to expect growth in flexible office space in the coming years. And with their speed of construction, flexibility, and lower environmental impact, prefabricated modular office buildings will play an important role.

If you would like to explore your next office project, get in touch with our team at Tasbuilt Commercial on 1800 639 310 and speak to a Consultant.


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