The fourth article in the series: Why Prefab Modular Construction is a Smarter Fit for Schools
Prefabricated modular construction now makes architecturally designed school buildings affordable for every school. Prefab offers customer choice around finishes, inclusions and budget control plus major cost savings from reductions in: construction time, overall project management costs, materials loss or wastage, physical work hours and in the extra staff workloads associated with a school building program.
With reduced construction time, modular prefab significantly reduces, and in some cases solves, the disruption and cost of student rehousing, during the project. The certainty of time lines guaranteed by factory construction means schools are able to order buildings to be delivered in time to house next year’s increasing enrolment. Prefab modular building is especially beneficial for new school projects where, increasingly, the land-price component and holding costs assume the larger proportion of the budget. Additionally, the time saving becomes a direct financial benefit; the project is completed and in use earlier, earning fees, building enrolments and providing community services.
For existing schools the cost savings of prefab can be redirected into additional components of an existing project as increased building size, plant and equipment, landscaping or spread across other systemic needs.
Prefabrication is particularly advantageous when supplying buildings for rural and regional areas where the availability of commercially qualified builders affects affordability and quality control. With traditional building methods workers’ travel allowances, materials delivery, storage and costly variations or rectifications come into play. It also solves the dilemma of investing in school infrastructure in areas with unknown future viability. When no longer needed, a modular building can be disassembled and moved to another site, maintaining structural integrity and long-term performance. Such asset redeployment is efficient environmentally and creates infrastructure savings for future generations.
A recent study (1) quantifying the benefits of prefabrication verses traditional building in terms of cost, time and productivity improvements shows an average cost saving of 19% in favour of prefab, rising to 24% saving on community building projects! An average marginal time saving between 34 and 50% was gained with productivity (cost X time saving) increasing by up to 11% in favour of prefabrication. The results of this study might suggest that prefab could provide the most effective approach to delivering future education infrastructure!
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) Wajiha Shahzad *, Jasper Mbachu and Niluka Domingo. School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Aukland, New Zealand; Published: 11 February 2015