One of the enduring misconceptions that the public has about the modular construction industry is that modular buildings are equal to “trailers” or mobile buildings. Of course, modular buildings can be put on trailers or made into mobile buildings, but that’s besides the point. The point is that the public often sees the term “modular building” as designating only these trailers and mobile buildings.
We see this misconception come up in a story in which President Obama is surprised that public school teachers teach in trailers, or as the article states, “modular buildings.” Now, we are not here to discuss the politics of the situation, but we do want to clarify this “modular building” term that is being used so loosely.
Many people view trailer buildings in a harsh light, seeing as how the buildings are only meant to be temporary and provisional. These buildings tend to be thin-walled and built with lower quality materials to provide cost effectiveness. It is this negative view that can occasionally overshadow the public perception of “modular buildings”.
While it is true that trailer buildings like these were once referred to as modular buildings, and some modular companies do in fact make these trailer type buildings, they no longer represent as a whole the types of buildings that modular construction produces.
Modular construction technology has advanced well beyond the trailer and the old prefabricated houses (of course modular buildings are prefabricated, but the technology and the process are different now). Modular construction is now a rapidly growing industry filled with all sorts of different construction methods and approaches.
Many of these modern modular construction approaches are attempts to streamline and make more efficient the construction of buildings that are meant to be more durable and high quality than the old prefabricated and trailer buildings. Sitting inside these new modular buildings, it is hard to tell that they aren’t traditionally constructed buildings. The walls are thick and well insulated. The construction is solid and durable. But at the same time, the buildings are flexible and easily rearrangeable. With modular buildings, you have the advantage of a sturdiness characteristic of traditionally constructed buildings and at the same time you have the advantage of a flexible, cost effective building that you can easily modify or take with you.
So a modular building is no longer simply a trailer building. It is a building that is built from a type of construction that involves factory fabricated components that can be put together in an almost infinite variety of arrangements. This is the new definition of a modular building that we hope the public will adopt.