You may not have heard much about industrialized modular homes. However, you certainly know that building more in less time is a huge challenge, right?
The difficulty becomes even greater in view of the need to guarantee predictable costs, high quality and sustainability.
In addition, you may also have seen many experts comment on the urgency of abandoning artisanal production methods. In Brazil and in the world, the tendency is to put aside the traditional construction, which is labor intensive, has long execution times, inaccurate budgets and still generates delays, higher than expected costs and waste.
If you want some references, I can mention two:
The first is the engineer and consultant Luiz Henrique Ceotto (ex-Inpar and Tishman Speyer). In an exclusive interview with Buildin, he stated that “the low productivity and the variability in the quality of Brazilian civil construction are directly associated with artisanal construction”. That is, it is necessary to invest more and more in civil engineering.
Who also defends industrialized and modular construction is the engineer and consultant Jonas Medeiros, director of Inovatec and CEO of Cubicon. According to him, “this is the only way to break the cycle of technological backwardness we are currently experiencing”.
Are modular homes cheaper?
Modular houses emerged as a response to the need to rationalize resources and increase construction efficiency.
However, it is necessary to understand the cost issue and all the benefits inherent to modular houses in a broader way to arrive at an answer to this type of question.
After all, when talking about this house type, we think of industrialized buildings assembled from modules. These, in turn, are produced industrially and under strict methods of production control.
By itself, this is already an indication that modular houses tend to have a lower incidence of constructive pathologies. In other words, the cost of maintaining modular homes is generally much lower. This is due to the fact that, since the conception, there is a concern with the way all interfaces existing in the building will be processed.
More than this, these interfaces are previously tested in the laboratory and, thus, have guaranteed performance. In other words, there are no improvisations at the construction site. Likewise, the quantities of materials and components to be consumed are accurate and previously known.
Predictability and constructive efficiency
With this, there are no additional costs that may surprise manufacturers, assemblers and customers. In addition, because they are less dependent on labor — and on all their productivity variables — the modular houses provide more predictability with respect to deadlines.
The construction of modular houses does not present, for example, cost variability.
The indirect costs are lower and there is total predictability.
Considering all these associated factors, it is possible to say that modular houses can be cheaper than the conventional ones, as long as there is scale, an important condition for obtaining productivity gains in an industrial process.
Industrializing is a trend with a view to gaining productivity
According to Turner and Townsend’s study Turner and Townsend, the expectation is that this construction type will increase globally by 6% by 2022. In Sweden, about 84% of the houses built are already modular. In the case of this Nordic country, the components essentially used are made of wood.
For Brazil, the construction industrialization is one of the main points for reducing the housing deficit of more than 7.7 million homes.
After all, it is possible to build more in less time with the industrialized construction. In addition, the industrialized construction has predictable costs, with gains in quality, performance and, consequently, sustainability. This is also due to the fact that it reduces waste and debris generation.
Why invest in modular construction?
It is a final product with pre-tested and guaranteed performance;
Substantial reduction in lead times and overall cost. The modular construction is less susceptible to climatic factors, since each module manufacture takes place in an industrial environment (off-site);
Better cost and term predictability. The standardization ensures that the house can be built with high efficiency, with clear steps and processes.
Significant reduction of direct labor at the constructon site and use of specialized assemblers and, consequently, reduction of insurance and legal liabilities;
Generation of better quality jobs. In other words, much of the work moves from the construction site to be carried out in an industry;
Material losses close to zero;
New technologies allow mass production, but customized, flexible and expandable;
Reduction of post-construction and maintenance costs.
More sustainable production processes. Considered as a clean construction, the modular construction reduces the debris generation and the waste of materials by up to 80%.
Source: Buildin – Construção e Informação (https://www.buildin.com.br/)