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Modular Building System Basics

In 2021, the modular construction market was valued at more than $40 billion. The growth trajectory for this type of construction is expected to continue at 8% in the next five years.[i] This encompasses a spectrum of segments including commercial, industrial, and residential.

Defining Modular Construction in the Residential Segment

In the residential segment, there are a few terms that are often used to describe offsite construction – modular, manufactured, and panelized – but there are key differences that distinguish each.

Modular homes are built in sections in a controlled factory setting and then transported to the building site. After the sections are delivered, the components are pieced together and connected to the foundation. This is a permanent type of construction, and the final home must meet the requirements of the International Residential Code, just like a traditional stick-built home.

Panelized or non-volumetric construction is a type of modular construction. Two-dimensional elements, like wall panels, are built offsite and transported to the jobsite. While transportation costs are more favorable, this type of construction requires more work onsite compared to volumetric construction where components are fully enclosed. 

Manufactured homes are different than modular homes as the entire home is assembled off-site and then transported to a final site. Manufactured homes must be built to the federal Housing and Urban Develop (HUD) Code.[ii] These homes offer a lower-cost solution and are typically characterized as an affordable housing option. A mobile home is an example of a manufactured home.   

What’s the Benefit?

One of the main attractions of modular construction is its ability to boost productivity across building operations. It can accelerate project timelines by up to 50 percent due to less labor and equipment demands and optimized scalability.

Beyond improved productivity and shortened timelines, here are a few other benefits:

  • Quality: Since components are manufactured in a controlled environment, quality control and consistency are greatly improved through automated processes and precise fabrication tools.
  • Energy Efficiency: Manufacturers can make building envelope improvements in a controlled setting, focusing on airtight connection points and optimizing insulation placement.
  • Resource Reduction: In a factory setting, manufacturers can control the material used, thus reducing waste. Excess material can also be reused for other projects.

Building for Resilience

Modular homes are built to withstand the rigors and stresses of being transported and assembled. In the same way, they can be designed to withstand extreme weather conditions with resilient building practices in mind. In a controlled environment, manufacturers along with researchers, can evaluate foundations, building envelopes, and heating systems that can withstand climate-related threats.

Henry® Can Help

At Henry, we recognize the value of this unique and highly efficient construction process and have had the opportunity to work with building contractors on off-site construction opportunities across the U.S., integrating our air and water barrier systems into prefabricated wall systems. From fully adhered Blueskin® VP100 systems to mechanically fastened water-resistive barriers, Henry has the right solution to help you proceed with confidence on your next project.

Contact a Henry weatherization expert for advice and support on your next job.

[i] Modular Construction Market Growth, Share & Trends (2022-27). (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/modular-construction-market

[ii] [email protected]. (2022, August 9). Mobile, manufactured, and Modular Homes: What's the difference? Modular Home Builders Association. Retrieved September 20, 2022, from https://www.modularhome.org/2022/07/18/who-are-the-best-modular-home-builders-copy-2/