Taking Issue with the Word Temporary: Stop Describing Modular Construction as Temporary Buildings

We all know what the word temporary means. It’s used to describe something that isn’t permanent, or that will only last for a limited amount of time. Temporary is a word you use to describe cheap kids’ tattoos, or your life situation in college when you needed a place to crash (“just need your couch for a few days, dude, it’s temporary”).

It is not a word you should be associating with modular construction.

Despite this, I see it all the time. In comments on articles about the rise and benefits of modular construction: “I’ll keep my traditional construction, thanks. Modular is fine for temporary buildings.” In posts about modular buildings as solutions to natural disasters: “It’s good they have temporary places to go.” In response to research on modular solutions for school districts in crisis: “Modular, like portables?”

No. Not like portables.

Not like gran’s trailer.

Not like pipeline man camps.

Modular buildings are permanent solutions offering a substantial array of benefits to almost every building type you can think of, from homes to hospitals.

The modular construction process is safer for urban development and campus construction. It offers an elevated level of quality control for building materials, more reliable scheduling, and limits the amount of time for on-site construction activities.

Modular buildings could be the key to solving the housing crisis plaguing our major cities.

Modular buildings could be the answer to dwindling school budgets and aging school facilities.

Modular buildings are the answer to quickly rebuilding after natural disasters and better preparing for future ones.

But we can’t move forward and talk about real, permanent solutions if we’re slapping the word “temporary” in front of them.