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Modular Buildings Meet Modern Construction Needs

posted: 13th Jan 2011

Sunderland HospitalToday’s modular buildings are made of the highest specification materials that comply with the new building regulations, writes Jackie Maginnis, chief executive of the Modular & Portable Building Association

We are all aware now of the increasing pressures being bought to a country that for years has taken its environment for granted. Clear indication of what to expect now and in the future regarding Carbon reduction has become very apparent this time with the new building regulations as from 1 october 2010.

Pre-fabricated is a term that we are unable to shake from the description of our modern day hi-tech modular buildings. it is most unfortunate, as historically that description has not always been the subject of good press. Very few will recall that this was a method of cheap post war housing built with what was then a cost-effective material of asbestos. The materials used today have to be of the highest specification to meet the requirements of the regulations, but also an important fact is that clients today are looking for much more attractive buildings that are also environment friendly.

The MPBA working with government is fully aware that within the next ten years zero carbon will not just be someone’s ideal; it will become reality for the future of our planet that we take so much for granted.

Increasingly local authorities and nhs trusts are turning to the modular sector to provide anything from a small basic extension to a complete major rebuild project. as an industry with years of experience, we understand the need and suitability of modular buildings and are fully capable of providing a complete service. from the start of an idea on paper to final completion and handover, the skills are all there to give the clients what they need, when they need it.

Where They’re Built

Off site construction appears now in almost every publication that we read. The question is, do many of the end users understand what that means, and more importantly why?

Modular buildings are all built off-site in a factory environment, thus giving more control to the whole process. Manufacturers are able to keep waste to a minimum.

During 2008 the MPBa worked on a project funded by DTi known as Beaware, this research confirmed that Modular was the most effective means of controlling waste (free download report available on the MPBA web site). The opportunity to also maintain the project on time by not being controlled by our unpredictable weather is also a key driving factor to the use of modular systems.

Clients have the opportunity to visit the manufacturing companies to discuss their requirements and see the whole process of how it all works. What better way to understand what goes into the building?

Healthcare Premises

Space at existing hospitals is becoming more and more of an issue; how often do we hear the public complain about not having enough car parking facilities. Modular building gives the client opportunities of utilising every space available with the flexibility of size and configuration. Buildings can be lifted into spaces that in the past have not always been accessible; today we also have the advantage of building higher then in the past thanks to modern technology.

With the reduction in public spending and capital expenditure being limited, a way forward is the hire devision of our industry. These companies will be able to bridge the gap with the urgently required facilities.

Companies have a hire fleet of buildings that can be made available to fulfil either short or longer-term requirements in the difficult times ahead. as part of the new building regulations, energy performance certificates now apply to all of these type of buildings including modular. This will not be a stumbling block as the industry has worked together to ensure that the required documentation will be in place. This has been done with confidence in the knowledge that the buildings do what they say and tick all the boxes.

The MPBA also has in place an accreditation scheme which is now available to all companies. Details can be found on the MPBa web site, alongside the generic scheme for hire which is also available to non members.

Case Study – New Build

Sunderland hospital is one of the latest in a long line of hospitals to benefit from the experience of a member of the the Modular & Portable Building association.

With a unique bespoke approach to design, with no set module sizes, the manufacturer ensured the client gained all the benefits of offsite construction including speed without having to make changes to the complex design.

The 9000sq-mtr care unit project consisted of 106 steel frame modules, some of which are up to 19mtrs in length and include the latest technologies for robust floors.

Typically 80 per cent of the units were finished before being moved to site and in some cases many were 100 per cent complete. Quality assurance checks by the dedicated team of personnel was a key throughout the build process, from tendering through to design and manufacture and ultimately to erection on site.

As ever the clients benefited from less environmental impact, reduced waste and timed organised deliveries, all contributed to a satisfied client with professional service by the supplier.

With this new building, sunderland royal has an addition of 120 in patient beds, and a ‘state of the art’ integrated Critical Care unit. other benefits from this new building are advanced infection control and privacy for patients, featuring more space for family and friends.

Staff who played a part in assisting to design this new unit will also have the benefit of new changing areas and training room.

Case study provided by Britspace.

Case Study Two – Pre-owned

Coventry Primary Care Trust chose Pre-owned modular buildings to fulfil their requirements, when additional facilities were required. The temporary modular building consisted of six no plasticoted steel modules with double- glazed upvc windows. The building also has a plasterboard-lined ceiling and walls and a double thickness plywood floor.

The used modular building was decorated internally, cleaned externally and reinstated electrically to the latest regulations. it was provided by an MPBa member specialising in pre-owned buildings, with the ability to provide a complete turnkey package.

The temporary modular walk in centre building complied with Part L2A 2006 building regulations and is extremely environmentally friendly as it only uses three per cent of the energy required to manufacture an equivalent new modular building. (Note building supplied prior to 1st october 2010).

Even though the modular building was pre- owned, the supplier still provide a 12 months guarantee with the building. This is a classic example of the confidence in the industry sector that provides the reuse of modular buildings.

Coventry Primary Care Trust was given complete peace of mind throughout the process, from attending meetings, reviewing health and safety plans, to the supply and installation of the used modular buildings. Crane arrangements, transportation and temporary traffic management to enable the building to be off-loaded from a road adjacent to the site was undertaken as part of the contract.

This project ticked all the boxes; sustainability, recycling, relocating embodied energy, with the added advantage of being dealt with by one point of contact. Case study provided by Portable Building Sales Limited.

Written by Jackie Maginnis, chief executive of the Modular & Portable Building Association for Health Business | Volume 10.6