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Designing with SIPs: Design Considerations

Structural Insulated Panel Association

Modular construction is an increasingly popular approach in several markets, where building components are prefabricated off-site in a controlled setting and then shipped to the project site and assembled. This allows projects to integrate the processes and technologies of design, manufacturing, and construction without compromising on aesthetic intent. Effective implementation of this approach results in a higher-quality building, delivered in a shorter time frame, with more predictable costs, and fewer environmental impacts.

Report Summary

While modular construction has several drivers, there are also several barriers preventing its wider adoption. Project teams unfamiliar with the modular approach must understand that many decisions have to be made much earlier in the process, and a higher level of coordination between the parties involved is critical because a lot of work is done off-site.

Although modular construction has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is not a completely novel approach. In the 19th century, prefabricated houses were transported from New York to California as people moved westward, while prefabricated housing was popular in the first half of the 20th century, especially after World War II. In the late 1950s, modular construction began to be used for a broader range of project types, and in the 1960s and 1970s, it was used to build large-scale hotel projects.

Today, modular construction is versatile and used for a wide range of project types, including housing, education, healthcare, hospitality, commercial office, government, and retail. A market share analysis of permanent modular construction in the North American building industry found that from 2014 to 2016, its use expanded across several sectors. In 2016, its market share was largest in the office and administrative (4.86 percent), commercial and retail (3.53 percent), and education (3.50 percent) sectors.

According to Modular Building Institute's 2018 annual industry statistical report, in 2017, the permanent modular construction industry drove about $7 billion in construction activity, and the estimated overall market share for permanent modular construction in North America rose to about 3.27 percent, up from 3.18 percent in 2016.


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