How Does Modular Building Work?

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

So you’ve heard the usual babble - modular building is the future of the industry, it's the bees-knees... But what the heck is it? Let’s dig into how modular buildings are made and why it may be a great option for your next home, office or property development project.

Stage I: Manufacture within the factory:

In short, the prefab building process is when the modules that make up the entire building are built in a controlled factory setting using an assembly line process, beginning with building the frame and ending with the interior and exterior finishes. We specialize in creating steel-frame modular homes.

The completed modules are usually delivered to the nearest port (in Australia or Internationally) and then placed on the back of a truck to bring them to the construction site. They are pieced together to form a finished building once on-site, instead of the other way around in traditional building.

But there’s so much more than that! Here’s an insight into the typical stages of the modular building in the factory and at the final building site.

steel-frame modular home
Steel-frame structure done prefab.

Step 1: Floors and Frames

Construction starts with the welding of a steel frame to the designated size of each individual module. We use a combination of 8 different sized modules that form the basis of any bespoke or off-the-shelf design. While the frame is being welded, the floor and decking is built. Then the floor is installed on the frame as the modular building begins moving down the assembly line.

FAQ: Are the modules insulated?

Of course, we provide the amount of insulation to meet the required energy ratings, we insulate the walls, floors, ceilings with high-end mineral wool (earth-wool equivalent). Our standard is R 2.5 in the walls and R 5.0 in the ceilings. This is a pretty high spec, but again, you always have the option of adding further insulation if your climate is particularly cold or warm.

Step 2: Connecting the Walls

The next stop on the assembly line is the walls. They can be built using any material, we use light-frame steel. Fun Fact: Scarily, these individual modules can be stacked 9-high without any issues.

After the walls are secured to the flooring, the designed interior wall finish is installed. At the same time the windows, insulation, electrical wiring, plumbing for kitchen, bathrooms, any custom components are installed from the outside of the module.

Step 3: Installing The Roof

The next stage is creating a roof, this is done using an overhead crane which places the roof onto the walls, ensuring perfection and safety. With the roof securely fastened, the module is really taking shape and the finishing work can commence.

Step 4: Interior and Exterior Finishes

Final touches are made on the interior walls while the specified flooring and fixtures are installed. On top of the module, duct-work is run, as well as additional electrical wiring and other components as necessary. Exterior finishes are attached while doors and interior trim are completed. Finally, the roof decking is installed and covered with the designated exterior waterproof surface – as much as 90% of all the construction work is done off-site by this point.

Stage II: On-site Construction:

This is where modular building and traditional building overlap in the best way possible – harnessing the main advantages of both systems to create further efficiency. While individual modules are coming together off-site, there is a lot happening in preparation at the final build site. This includes:

• Excavation

• Grading

• Site drainage

• Foundation construction

• Utility installation

Fun Fact: In traditional construction this would all have to be done on-site before building could begin, adding significant time to your project timeline. In modular projects, this is all taken care of whilst the modules are being built off-site and enables us to really optimize the process.

A) The Foundations for Modular Homes:

There are a number of foundation types that can be used, primarily for modular homes we use our very own engineered footings, however concrete slabs, and poles for mountainous plots are also used.

B) Modular Building Installation

As all the on-site work is finished in advance, the building installation can occur as soon as the modules are delivered. Creating a smooth and efficient process to get things done in an extremely timely manner.

Using a crane, the individual modules are placed on the prepared foundation. The modules are precisely designed to match up exactly as they are placed side by side, end to end or across the top, based on the final project design.

modular construction and finishes
The 6-phases of modular building.

Once the modular pieces are placed onto the foundation, the additional building components are connected. We then begin to connect utilities, finish off any interior and exterior work (decks, ramps, and verandas).

Overall, for smaller projects, complete delivery and installation take less than 2-4 weeks, for larger homes and commercial jobs it takes roughly 8-12 weeks – how good is that?!

We hope you learned a lot from this post. If you have a project in mind... let's see if we're a good fit to make it happen for you. Book your call here! PS - Now that you know how it works, learn about our PRICING and TYPICAL COSTS here!

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