1.1 Definition and presentation
The market for modular construction, also known as prefabricated construction, refers to the construction of prefabricated buildings or containers (modules) directly designed and produced in the factory and then assembled on the construction site. Assembly makes it possible to create buildings capable of meeting occasional or permanent needs: site billets, offices, but also new forms of housing such as container houses. The modules or containers are usually made of steel, concrete or wood, equipped with plumbing, heating and electrical power. The interior finishes are specified at the exit of the production workshop and are more or less worked on according to the purpose of the building to be constructed.
Long thought mainly for the construction industry - for site staff in particular - modular construction has over the years become an important and credible alternative to the construction of single-family homes and offices.
Often, the modular construction enables the meeting of short-term needs to install buildings on a temporary basis when a building is under reconstruction or in rehabilitation, but also when an expansion in the need of offices or workshops appears in the tertiary sector.
Modular construction is therefore present in the construction sector in the state sector (emergency accommodation, sports facilities, school premises, etc.) and in the private tertiary sector (offices, shops and kiosks, events, health, etc.). The use of prefabricated construction in the residential sector has seen an important growth in the last years.
The global market is booming, expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5% until 2025. This growth is driven by the perceived benefits of modular construction, including reduced waste, speedy building, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and flexibility. Moreover, FBI reports that modular building projects are 30% to 50% faster than traditional construction.
In the US, market growth is expected to be strong in light of greater economic growth. Naturally, construction is related to the health of the economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about an abrupt but intense demand for modular construction, particularly towards structures like field hospitals, hospital wings, makeshift morgues, testing centres, clinics and laboratories.
Players in the market include Laing O'Rourke, Katerra, Skanska AB, Red Sea Housing, Dubox, and Sekisui House Ltd.
The latest trends include the emergence of startups which puts pressure on pricing and existing players. Moreover, technology plays an integral part for fast, efficient, and precise modelling.
1.2 The Global Outlook
Advantages of modular construction
Modular construction is part of the broader real estate sector, of which it can be both a corollary and a substitute. Indeed, in addition to reducing the construction risk inherent in the development activities in real estate, modular construction can offer several advantages:
Overview of the global ...
1.3 The US market
Total value of modular building construction projects has doubled its size in * years and was estimated in *.* billion dollars in ****, having grown at a CAGR (***) of almost **% [***].
Value of modular construction projects USA, ****-****, in billions of dollars Source: ****
American contractors use modular construction methods mostly for exterior walls, for superstructures ...
1.4 International trade
Using the data made available by the United Nations via the Comtrade database, it is possible to graphically represent the amount of exports and imports of prefabricated buildings (***) coming from and to the US throughout time. We observe an increase in both exports and imports from **** to ****. However, from **** to ****, there ...
1.5 Impact of COVID-19
The end of the office?
The measures of social distancing and lockdowns imposed in the US and in other countries have severely disrupted the state of affairs when it comes to the construction market. With the pandemic pushing a large number of employees to work from home, we are likely to ...
2.1 Profile of homeowners in the US
In order to fully comprehend the demand for modular construction, it is important to also analyse some characteristics of the American building market. For instance, the graph below represents the number of households separated by their sizes. We notice that most of the houses in the US harbour two people or ...
2.2 Higher incentives and higher prices
By looking at the evolution of the house prices throughout time, we notice a clear upward trend in how much Americans need to spend in order to purchase a new home. Since the beginning of the century, the average house price has been increasing on an almost annularly basis, reaching *** thousand ...
2.3 Determining factors
It may be interesting to look at the evolution of the mortgage rates since they reflect the household borrowing costs. However, the latter is close to its lowest point (***), which should make it possible to boost household consumption and investment in real estate.
Rates on conventional **-year mortage USA, ****-****, in ...
2.4 Factors influencing the selections of a prefabrication company
When speaking of prefabricated construction it is rare that the company that produces the modules installs them as well. Instead, the installation is usually completed by three types of actors:
Architects/engineers General contractors and construction managers Trade contractors
The most important factor for these three categories of actors when choosing ...
2.5 Most built type of modular structures
The three actors mentioned above, architects and engineers, general contractors and construction managers, and trade contractors use modular construction for different purposes.
For architects and engineers the most common ones of the past three years have been hotels and motels, but they expect multifamily homes to be the most common in ...
3.1 Organisation and dynamics of the market
The production of modular buildings consists of the assembly of entire buildings in the factory from prefabricated modules that are then placed on foundations. According to the IFS the production is carried out in a local factory with the creation of entire apartment blocks or building site modules. Interior finishes are ...
3.2 Main players
The modular construction market is a sub-category of the construction market.
The construction market is littered with generalists that don't specialise in any specific industry or structure but instead offer a wide range of construction services. These include civil engineering projects, as well as commercial ventures or residential structures among ...
3.3 Impact of prefabricated construction
In construction projects, two metrics are the most important in terms of compliance in order to bring a project to its end:
Project schedule Budget
Prefabricated construction appears to have a significant impact on both of these factors. The degree of impact varies depending on the type of project but also ...
3.4 Product segmentation
Residential application: destined to provide homes for individuals This accounts for the largest share of the market, and it is likely to grow in the future Commercial application: designated to provide commercial spaces such as offices, showrooms, and hotels. It is highly dependent on the economic outlook of the ...
3.5 Suppliers and procurement of modular construction
Modular construction, compared to traditional construction methods, is relatively new. Many people and even industry insiders haven't heard much about or know the specifics of modular construction, often amounting it to containers, or temporary medical or event (***) structures.
It is interesting to observe how actors in the construction market, who don't ...
41. Shortage of supply
Since ****, around *.** million single-family homes were constructed in the US. A number that might seem substantial but does not get close to the nearly ** million new households (***) formed. Indeed, in order to meet consumer demand, there is a need for more *.* million new American homes [***].
Yet, construction has grown in recent ...
4.2 Evolution of the construction sector due to technology
By ****, more than **% of modular construction companies will use *D printing for modular construction and **% of the work will be done by robots in construction [***].
A quick overview of the contributions of new technologies in modular construction is proposed:
A masonry robot was created by Construction Robotics (***) to assist the mason ...
4.3 Drivers and obstacles in modular construction
Like in any industry, modular construction presents positive impacts that drive an increase in its use, but also obstacles that inhibit it.
Among positive drivers numerous factors are mentioned by all actors on the scene:
Improvement of project schedule performance Decreases costs Improves project quality Helps deal with skilled labour shortages Project ...
4.4 Production system and its advantages
The production of modular buildings consists of the assembly of entire buildings in the factory from prefabricated modules which are then laid on foundations.
Production is carried out in local factories with the creation of whole apartment blocks or building site modules. Interior finishes are also carried out locally, then manufactured ...
4.5 Specific methods of modular construction and their uses
Panellised and volumetric modular construction are the most commonly used methods of modular construction. They can fulfil the following purposes:
Panellised Wall modules Structural insulated panels Roof panels Floor panels Volumetric modular construction *D modules to be joined together on-site Flat pack construction system *D transportable modules slotted into a non-modular ...
Before engaging on any building endeavour in the United States, the contractor needs to ensure that he is meeting all the building codes of his state, county, city or municipality. A construction project may be subject to different laws, depending on whether the project is private or public, the ...
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