Modular Can Be Key to Disaster Recovery Efforts

modular home

This award-winning modular home was manufactured by Ritz-Craft Corp. and built in Johnston, Pa., by DB Homes.

When disaster strikes and homes are destroyed, the modular construction process can help communities recover more quickly.

Scott Peters of New Era Building Systems in Strattanville, Pa., shared strategies for successfully using modular construction during disaster recovery efforts in a Jan. 21 seminar at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

Because a modular home is built in sections in a factory then transported and installed at the home site, communities can more quickly return to normal: A case study of 36 projects completed during Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts showed that building with modular resulted in a 31% increase in construction speed.

According to Peters, the fastest modular construction period was 12.2 weeks, compared to the fastest traditional construction time of 22.7 weeks.

While the site prep time for modular and traditional construction is similar, other components of modular construction can be done concurrently, reducing overall project time.

Peters cautioned that despite its potential for success, modular construction does face challenges. Issues such as labor shortages, speed of construction, secure job sites and construction volume can threaten the process.

A consumer’s willingness and ability to buy a modular home also can be a challenge for builders to overcome. Depending on the type of disaster, some consumers relocate, as New Orleans experienced after Hurricane Katrina. Other consumers may decide not to rebuild if they lost a secondary home, such as the beach houses destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

By emphasizing the speed of modular construction, it’s possible to address some consumer concerns. Peters noted the success of a modular builder in New Jersey who attracts customers with a 120-day guarantee.

However, when speaking to prospective buyers, Peters encouraged builders not to oversell a modular home because it’s not an “instant” house.

It’s also very important for builders to understand the capabilities of each manufacturer involved in the modular construction process and develop a clear scope of work for each one. This will allow you to more efficiently complete the project.

Peters encouraged builders to learn more about the modular construction process so that they do not fear the unknown. “Modular is not a type of house or structure, but a construction method that will enhance your efficiency and reduce your risk.”

NAHB has many resources on modular homes at nahb.org/modular.

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  1. Randy Noel says:

    Tried after Katrina but unique plumbing code hampered. Plumbing code now changed. Other deterrent was deposits and poor foundation to structure installations.

  2. Elijah Whaley says:

    Modular is the perfect solution for disaster relief. After the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, Japan turned to modular flat pack containers to construct quick temporary housing for workers who were there to help final cleanup and rebuilding. http://www.prefabmarket.com/modular-flat-pack-containers-disaster-housing/

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