The Advantages of Prefabs in the 2020s

vipp’s prefab shelter” (CC BY 2.0) by nicolas.boullosa

As a method of construction, prefabrication has a history running back a lot further than many realise. First mentioned circa 1160 concerning a castle, the idea of building in one place and moving to another has always had certain advantages. Early on this could be done to ensure the fit and quality of certain modules of a building. Today, these advantages exist, but there are also more contemporary technological and environmental reasons why prefabs come into play.

A Faster Build

Ask anyone who has built a house directly on a property and they’ll rarely tell you that a build came in on time. Owing to complexities involving hundreds or thousands of individual pieces on-site, many adjustments might have to be made on the fly which themselves can create further problems.

By being built in a controlled environment, prefab components can easily be completed both on time and on a static budget. Though there can be complications in transporting prefabs as with any components, the need for only one set of measurements and much simpler installation will practically always lead to a simpler overall process. This will especially be the case for buildings in remote locations, where constant deliveries and travel time can quickly incur higher costs.

Greener and Healthier

Related to less travel time are the environmental benefits of less CO2 vehicle emissions. This effect is compounded by the fact that the materials used in prefabs built indoors will require less protection from the elements. This form of construction thus means less dumped plastic and other leftover building supplies.

In terms of health, being built in a protected area can also provide some major benefits. Primarily these relate to environmental toxins that can sneak into a home while it’s being constructed on-site. Moisture can be an especially frustrating problem to deal with here, which can create ongoing issues with mould that no homeowner wants.

Quality Control

As much as we’d all love to be able to hold builders up to the highest level of quality, the reality is not often so kind. This isn’t necessarily the fault of a builder either, as on-site complications can result in rare scenarios that few even fully qualified builders are equipped to face. These are again issues that are easily addressed by a factory building setting. In modern facilities, quality control tests for units such as prefabricated bathrooms are easier to implement and standardise than in traditional build systems. This leads to a far lower risk of a project failing in unpredictable ways, which is better for both the developer and the builder.

Quality Control 4” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by tnarik

Of course, prefabs aren’t right for everyone, but for the right person in the right place, their benefits in the modern world can be too great to be ignored. Existing as entire buildings or easily installable modules, prefabs are a cost-effective and convenient option in many scenarios. As for whether they could ever replace traditional building methods, that’s a question of place and time. While the expanding human population will undoubtedly call on more prefabrication efforts as time goes on, there is little doubt that they will continue to coexist in harmony with traditional buildings.