Myth-Busting: What You Think You Know About Modular Construction

There are a lot of myths surrounding modular and prefabrication construction methods. At Kuvella, we get questions every day from people wondering if we “do the shipping container thing”. Sorry, we don’t. What we do in fact do is deliver high-quality buildings faster, cheaper, and more sustainably than traditional construction methods.

I’ve rounded up a few common modular construction “myths” for today, because it’s so much more than “the shipping container thing.”

MYTH: Prefabrication and modularization are new-age construction processes.

BUSTED. Prefab and modular construction processes have been around for centuries. As the techniques improve, the processes are re-emerging as “new” as more people hear about them. Sorry, folks. Just because you’re just now hearing about the amazing benefits and reliability of modular construction, doesn’t mean others haven’t been reaping the benefits for decades.

MYTH: Prefabrication means selecting from a set of pre-determined building types.

BUSTED. Remember when I said modular construction isn’t your sweet grandma’s trailer anymore? It’s not. Sure, some modular housing units come in cookie cutter selections (but so do traditionally constructed subdivisions that let you “choose from four unique floorplans!”) but just like traditional construction, modular is flexible and customizable. Yes, you can build your dream home using modular construction.

MYTH: Modular constructed buildings are of a lower quality than traditionally constructed buildings.

BUSTED. This one gets to me every time. Modular construction uses a controlled environment for production. That means that unlike traditional construction sites which are exposed to the elements, dirt, sun, wind, rain, and potential thieves, modular building components are stored inside where they are protected from beginning to end. We use tried and true assembly methods that are more accurate than traditional trades, and our buildings are designed and constructed to meet the same building codes that non-modular buildings are.

MYTH: You don’t need an architect for modular construction.

(SEMI) BUSTED: Some architects specialize in modular construction, and partner with modular builders to deliver some amazing projects. (That I bet you wouldn’t even know were built with modular construction methods just looking at them!) Some modular builders offer design in-house, but they still ensure their buildings are compliant with codes and standards for safety and sustainability.

MYTH: Modular construction is not permanent.

BUSTED: Of course modular constructed buildings are permanent! Are they more easily renovated or removed due to the nature of their assembly? Yes. Are they intentionally built to be removable? No. Modular buildings are constructed on permanent foundations the same way traditionally constructed buildings are. There’s nothing “temporary” about them. In fact, the things that make them seem temporary (their ease of renovation) actually help to ensure that modular buildings are more resistant and reliable in disaster situations. Modular homes constructed with steel frame hold up better against disasters like wildfires and floods than stick-built (wood frame) homes and are more easily repaired after a disaster.

Your turn.

What questions do you have about modular or prefab building? I want to help you sort out the myths and the truths, so ask away.