The third article in the series: Why Prefab Modular Construction is a Smarter Fit for Schools
Well designed, built and maintained school buildings are not only essential to our 21st Century Learning Curriculum, but also convey the school community’s respect for their students. Quality facilities broadcast the unspoken message that kids are valued, important and invested in. Quality buildings inspire and reinforce student aspiration, while coping year in and out with the physical demands placed upon them by their young, energetic occupants!
Fortunately, the prefabricated, modular building industry is evolving to meet the changing needs of our education sector and provides significant advances in building quality. With a traditional insitu school construction, the final build quality is dependent upon the varying skill levels and schedules of independent contractors, who work in many weather conditions under widely varying levels of supervision and quality control. With so many variables in play, it’s no wonder that the pre-handover rectifications list usually runs to several pages!
On the other hand, Prefabrication uses exact specifications, precision equipment and standardised building procedures to ensure a high quality outcome. The climate controlled factory environment and ISO 9001 quality-controlled manufacturing procedures integrate materials delivery and workflow, reducing waste and enhancing OH&S. Modular construction drawings are more highly detailed and elaborated than traditional plans, which often leave details to be resolved on site, ensuring that the completed structure is consistent with the design.
A further benefit of modular construction comes with the inbuilt durability required for transportation to site. The sub-assemblies of the structure are built to a uniform, engineered quality and extra materials are used to reinforce the structure during delivery. When assembled on site, the individual structural integrity of each module combines to offer a level of rigidity and strength superior to traditional framing techniques. The durability of modular construction was noted in the 1992 report by the USA Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Andrew. “Overall, relatively minimal structural damage was noted in modular housing developments. The module-to-module combination of the units appears to have provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing. (1)”
As mentioned in a previous article one of the specifications of the VSBA Permanent Modular Replacement Program is low-maintenance building longevity assessed from a design, materials and functional perspective. This recognition of today’s permanent modular buildings as equally durable and long lasting has had an unexpected benefit for regional and rural school settings; marked by a willingness of sectors to invest in new facilities in areas of declining population. A permanent modular building can be successfully relocated to another area, many years after initial installation, without any loss of building integrity. Not only is this a game changer for isolated communities, it is also working well in metro areas experiencing unprecedented enrolment growth, giving flexible options for future facilities provision.
About the Author: An experienced educator and school leader, Justin worked in Victorian metro, regional, government and private schools for over three decades. As Principal, he oversaw numerous school building programs and is now an Education Construction specialist with Pretect Commercial Modular Buildings.
(1) Federal Emergency Management Agency; Building Performance- Hurricane Andrew in Florida: https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=721586