Modular construction consists of building parts of a structure or infrastructure off-site under controlled conditions. The same high-quality materials are used, but they are pre-cut to order and are delivered to a factory for assembly. Construction workers perform the same tasks inside the building that they would at a construction site: carpentry, tile, electrical, plumbing and painting. But the big difference is that most of their work is done with feet on the floor or atop small benches, making it safer and improving quality.
As prefabricated units are being built off site, construction of the primary building can happen simultaneously. There are fewer workers on site at one time, improving the movement of materials, logistics and safety.
Walbridge has extensive experience in modularized construction. In the past 24 months, Walbridge has constructed approximately 850 modular bathroom units on two separate projects at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
At Lawyers Club, originally constructed in the 1920s, Walbridge built 120 bathroom units off-site. Prior to delivery, Building Information Modeling (BIM) was used to scout and select the best pathway inside the building to transport these units to designated locations. There was no straight shot in and in some cases there was less than one inch of clearance between the top of a modular bathroom unit and support beams.
In 2014, Walbridge constructed 730 modular bathrooms off-site and delivered them to the site of Munger Graduate Residence Hall. Teams coordinated lifting the 4,500-pound units up and through entry points along the side of the eight-story building. Inside, modularized racks with pipes for plumbing and electricity were installed. Modularized bathroom units were moved into place and installed when suites of bedrooms were under construction.
In short, modularized construction yields higher quality, is cost-effective and improves efficiency considerably when compared to traditional construction methods.