Prefabrication Services Lead to Cost Savings for Government, Health Care Facilities
The construction of hospitals, government facilities and other large projects can be extremely challenging for those in charge of monitoring and maintaining costs. Project costs can quickly soar out of control and expensive waste of material can happen unexpectedly, leaving projects over budget and clients dissatisfied. Prefabrication services and modular construction are two longstanding building industry techniques that are making a comeback at a time when lower-cost, better-managed and environmentally green construction are becoming priorities.
Prefabrication services involve construction and manufacturing processes that are conducted in a factory or other specialized facility. Materials and components are assembled to form larger components of a construction project. Joists, trusses, precast concrete, exterior walls, steel frames and similar elements are commonly prefabricated for use on construction sites. Modular construction, another form of prefabrication service, involves the off-site assembly of major sections or areas of a building, such as walls, floors, roofs or even entire rooms or sections. Portions of electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems can also be included in modular components.
Prefabrication has a long history in the construction industry, from easily-assembled Quonset huts in the military to prefabricated housing that requires putting together only a few large sections. In the modern construction industry, prefabrication services and modular construction are becoming more popular as a building technique that cuts costs while still allowing for high-quality materials and components.
According to the McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report “Prefabrication and Modularization: Increasing Productivity in the Construction Industry,” prefabrication services lead to cost reductions and increased efficiencies in construction projects. In a survey of more than 800 architecture, engineering and contracting (AEC) professionals, McGraw Hill researchers found:
- 65 percent reported decreased project costs and budgets, often by 6 percent or more. In 17 percent of the cases, project costs dropped by 11 to 20 percent, while 5 percent of the time, costs were lowered by more than 20 percent.
- 66 percent reported improvements in project schedules by four weeks or more in at least a third of cases, trimming overall costs.
- 77 percent reported decreases in waste of materials at construction sites, nearly half the time by 5 percent or more, which reduced costs while also increasing the project’s environmentally-friendly characteristics.
Cost reductions are aided by the lower cost of prefabricated materials, combined with factors such as less use of costly skilled labor at construction sites, less overtime labor and reduced need for basic site support infrastructure.
The McGraw-Hill report indicates that the revived interest in prefabrication services is being driven by the wider use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems and the desire to make construction processes more efficient and environmentally green. Priorities of those using more prefabrication and modular construction are reported as:
- Improving productivity through more efficient processes and lowered costs
- Gaining an advantage over competitors in the construction industry
- Increasing return on investment for those funding large-scale building projects
Builders of health care facilities, according to the McGraw-Hill researchers, make the most use of prefabrication services and modular construction. Among large commercial building projects, 49 percent of the survey’s respondents reported using prefabrication and modular building in health care construction projects. Modular construction is particularly applicable in building hospitals and health care facilities because of the large amount of uniformity in patient rooms and treatment areas.
The McGraw-Hill report projects that the need for increased cost savings and improved project efficiencies will fuel continued increases in the use of prefabrication services and modular construction in health care construction.
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