The Language of Modular Construction: Understanding the Terms

Learn about the different terms used in modular construction and how they all refer to building components off-site in a specialized facility. Discover the benefits of modular construction and how it can save time, reduce waste, and improve quality control.

The Language of Modular Construction: Understanding the Terms

When it comes to modular construction, there are a lot of terms that are used interchangeably, such as “off-site construction”, “prefabrication”, and “modular construction”. These terms encompass a variety of different approaches and systems, from individual elements that are joined together using standard connections and interfaces to three-dimensional volumetric units with complete accessories. While these terms may seem confusing, they all refer to the same concept: building components off-site in a specialized facility. One term that is often used synonymously with prefabrication is “external construction”. This term is commonly used in the industry to refer to the process of building components off-site.

Another term that is often used interchangeably with modular construction is “prefabricated”. This term refers to large modules that are built off-site and designed to be joined together. On the other hand, traditional construction is the most common form of construction where most of the work is done on site. Another term that you may come across is “pole construction”. This industrial term is used to refer to traditional construction with wooden or metal structures.

In practice, it is synonymous with traditional construction. Similarly, “kit construction” refers to pre-cut parts that require significant assembly on site, but with minimal waste. This type of construction is often seen as a more efficient alternative to traditional construction. There are also terms that refer to specific types of modular construction. For example, “temporary” refers to a building that can be easily moved or dismantled and reassembled elsewhere.

“Panelized” refers to a more efficient form of construction where walls, floors, and other flat components arrive in large sections that can be quickly placed in place. And finally, “volumetric modular” refers to the most complete form of modular construction, where a minimum of on-site assembly is required. It’s important to note that prefabrication is not limited to just modular modules and buildings. It can also be applied to a wider variety of products. Like many industries, modular construction has its own language, processes, and terms, which can be confusing to those who are not familiar with them.

To help illustrate the distinction between prefab and modular kits, think of IKEA as a supplier of prefab kit furniture. Just like how IKEA furniture requires assembly, modular modules also require assembly, but with less on-site work as each module fits into a predefined pattern. Another term that is often used in relation to modular construction is “off-site construction”. This term is largely interchangeable with modern construction methods and refers to the part of the construction process that takes place outside the construction site. During this process, models are created that contain not only the geometry of the building, but also a lot of data in terms of relationships, physical attributes, time, costs, and quantities.“Modular” is another term that is loosely used in the industry.

It refers to elements that are manufactured off-site and then assembled with other elements to build a structure or an entire building. This type of construction, also known as modular or prefabricated construction, has been gaining ground as an alternative method that offers the advantages of reducing construction time, reducing waste, and potentially saving costs. One of the main benefits of modular construction is quality control. In volumetric modular buildings, all accessories and interior finishes of the modules are installed in the factory. This ensures consistency and high-quality standards throughout the building process.

Volumetric modular buildings are large structures that consist of individual modules joined together end-to-end and one on top of the other to form complete buildings without the need for an additional superstructure. With over 40 years of experience, Triumph Modular has been a leader in the modular construction industry. They have worked with homeowners, architects, and engineers to improve the design and performance of both temporary and permanent commercial building spaces. The generally accepted definition for volumetric modular construction is that more than 60% of the construction is completed off-site.

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