Making the Case for Offsite Construction

Yes, You Can Have It All!

We’ve all been lied to.  For years, contractors have been telling us that projects are driven by three things: cost, schedule, and quality.  And we can pick any two.

In a recent report by Dodge Analytics called “Prefabrication and Modular Construction 2020”  ninety-four percent of the survey respondents cited experience with some form of prefabrication on construction projects over the prior three years.  Most likely the other 6% did too, they just were not aware of it.

The term “prefabrication” in this instance, refers to a broad range of processes and products including:

  • volumetric modular
  • exterior wall panels
  • HVAC, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) subassemblies
  • Steel assemblies
  • Bathroom pods
  • Modified shipping containers
  • Curtainwall assemblies

Architects reported the highest usage with curtainwall (59%) and exterior wall assemblies (54%), while general contractors reported the highest usage with MEP systems (64%). Nearly all who use prefabrication techniques cite improved schedule performance and cost certainly as the main drivers. 

Schedule performance – specialty trade contractors reported the greatest positive impact on schedule using prefabrication with 73% of respondents indicating improvement and 40% reporting schedule decreases by 6% or more. Although on 31% of architects reported a schedule improvement, most who did (21%) indicated that prefabrication had a strong impact by reducing schedules by 10% or more.

Cost performance – Again specialty trade contractors seemed to realize the greatest benefits from prefabrication with 82% citing cost reductions and 55% indicating cost savings of 6% or more.  General contractors and architects’ responses were similar with 59% of architects and 58% of GCs citing cost advantages.

Other key performance factors that were improved using prefabrication included:

  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced waste
  • Schedule certainty
  • Improved quality
  • Improved cost predictability
  • Increased client satisfaction
  • Improved safety performance

On your next construction project, don’t sell yourself short by settling for lower quality, schedule and cost overruns, and inefficient and wasteful practices.  With offsite construction, these trade-offs do not have to happen.