With the global population having surpassed 7.7 billion, one thing is becoming clear: the world isn’t getting any smaller. As a result, land is more valuable than ever — both in densely populated cities, and rural communities with miles of potential. On both ends of the spectrum as well as on a hyper-local level, modular construction plays an important role: it can give people all over the country (and world) alternative spaces to live, work, and play.
Hyper-urban: building up
Typically, we think of overpopulated cities as not having much room to grow. But that’s ignoring one important growth area: vertical. Multi-story modular buildings are a practical alternative to serve a lot of people on a small footprint. And like any modular project, customization is a key factor. We can “stack” units, one on top of the other, to create more space. Here at SMM, we’ve done a lot of two- and three-story buildings, but really, we can go up to 10- or 12-stories — and even higher than that. Building up just requires that we start with a solid foundation than can hold its share of weight. From there, construction boils down to basic materials like concrete and rebar, and smart engineering.
Educational institutions are just one example of an industry that’s significantly affected by population growth. Especially in the past few months, we’ve met with quite a few clients seeking dormitory facilities for expanding student populations around the country. Many of these future modular buildings will be four-story units, serving 400 students. In these cases, going modular is saving these educational institutions a lot of time: they’ll be able to open their new buildings 30 percent faster than typical stick-built construction. We typically estimate 9 to 10 months from initial design to completion, so for buildings contracted this month, Summer 2020 is a realistic goal.
Rural: room to grow
On the flip-side, if you look at rural areas of population bursts — such as border-sharing where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are actively trying to establish housing and office structures — modular construction is a smart solution. If you’re based in an area that can’t necessarily get standard construction materials in a reasonable amount of time, modular is a great way to go. Because it’s prefabricated construction that’s completed in weather-safe plants, it’s shipped ready to assemble, irregardless of local weather. Plus, not having to source contractors or materials in a rural area means cutting down on construction time, as well as cost, since local manufacturers tend to charge higher markups based on supply and demand. We bring a prefab structure to the site ready to assemble, and build it in a matter of a few days or weeks rather than months.