In broad terms, modular construction involves producing standardized components of a structure in an off-site factory, then assembling them on-site. Terms such as “off-site construction,” “prefabrication,” and “modular construction” are used interchangeably. These terms cover a range of different approaches and systems, from single elements that are clipped together using standard connections and interfaces to 3-D volumetric units with full fixtures.
Today, modular construction is experiencing a new wave of attention and investment, and several factors suggest it may have renewed staying power. The maturing of digital tools has radically changed the modular-construction proposition—for instance, by facilitating the design of modules and optimizing delivery logistics. Consumer perceptions of prefab housing are beginning to change, particularly as new, more varied material choices improve the visual appeal of prefab buildings.
Perhaps most important, we see a change in mind-set among construction-sector CEOs, as many leaders see technology-based disruptors entering the scene—and realizing it may be time to reposition themselves.