Any construction project is a complex web of targets, opportunities, challenges, and risks. While effective planning and contingency funds go a long way to smoothing over the inevitable mid-cycle wrinkles, choosing prefabricated construction techniques is almost guaranteed to further reduce delays or unforeseen challenges. Little wonder, then, that the global prefabricated buildings market will be worth an estimated $153 billion by 2026.
What is prefabricated construction used for?
Ever since chronic materials shortages slowed the pace of rebuilding after World War II, European construction firms have championed prefabrication as a way of quickly and affordably assembling new buildings. Advances in manufacturing and the growing importance of sustainability have allowed companies to develop prefabricated solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings across the continent, and indeed around the world.
10 major advantages of prefabricated construction
Whether you’re building a remote engineering facility or an urban mixed-use development, there are many advantages to prefabrication. We’ve listed 10 of the biggest benefits below.
1. Materials are extremely durable
From pre-cast concrete panels to light-gauge steel frames, the materials commonly used for prefabrication are often exceptionally strong, built to endure long-distance transit to the site. They avoid issues commonly found with more traditional materials (efflorescence on bricks, spalling on stonework), while exposed metal finishes like Corten steel develop a self-healing patina of rust.
2. Construction is far faster
When a project involves slotting pre-manufactured cassettes together or covering a pre-assembled frame, construction times may be halved compared to traditional building processes. The casting of panels can occur in tandem with foundation works, following on from each other in quick succession. Elements like insulation are already woven in, rather than having to be added later.
3. There are fewer ambient risk factors
In challenging European climates, off-site manufacturing of construction materials reduces the risk of on-site delays due to bad weather or other environmental factors. It means every component is made in climate-controlled conditions to identical standards, avoiding moisture or anything which might shorten a component’s lifespan. Summer or winter, rain or shine, the finish will be identical.
4. Quality can be controlled prior to construction
It’s hard to accurately assess component quality on-site or when it arrives on a palette of identical materials. By contrast, the manufacturing process ensures prefabricated components can be individually checked for quality standards prior to dispatch. Relevant safety regulations can also be verified before construction starts, such as fire resistance or heat insulation.
5. There is less risk of on-site accidents
Manufacturing construction components in a specialist warehouse reduces the amount of work required on-site. That means fewer people doing less work in less time amid the bustle of truck deliveries, moving crane arms, and other potential threats. This has a beneficial impact on risk, minimising accidents and the delays/paperwork/repercussions that may ensue.
Further read: Modular Construction: Pros and Cons
6. It simplifies construction processes and timelines
You might need fewer managers overseeing on-site construction teams, or less specialist training compared to stonemasonry. Shorter timelines are easier to plan more accurately, with extra scope for building in contingency time—even though fewer delays are likely. Reduced communication is another benefit, though we still recognise the vital importance of clear communication.
7. It benefits the environment
Modern prefabrication materials tend to use either eco-friendly or recycled matter—or both. This might take advantage of seasonal or locally available timber, or allow one material to be swapped for another as new manufacturing techniques reduce the overall ecological footprint. There’s also minimal construction waste.
8. Costs are lower
From fewer on-site workers to construction projects in remote locations, prefabrication can slash total costs. Standardised panel measurements mean off-the-shelf plans and schematics for prefab structures are often available, saving money on architects’ fees. Similarly, prefabricated materials are mass-produced and bought in bulk, bringing economies-of-scale savings.
9. Modular extensions are simple to attach
If you outgrow a precast building, a modular extension can quickly and cheaply be made using identical materials. Compare that to stone, where the closure of a mine could mean a particular shade or grain of stonework is no longer available. Adding a modular extension is far more cost-effective than relocating to new premises or acquiring an additional site to accommodate future growth.
10. Dismantling and recycling are easier
Materials that already bear a low ecological footprint are often among the easiest to recycle. Being able to reuse or repurpose them once the building reaches the end of its lifespan is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Disassembly also avoids explosives or specialist intervention—it’s often just a case of reversing the steps from the original construction process.
A world of choice
The benefits of prefabricated construction are multiplied when a build is being managed with construction project management software like LetsBuild. Our comprehensive tools help you manage real-time site activity and related admin, with clear communication and effortless regulatory compliance checking. Contact us to find out more.