Last edited 29 Jun 2016

Modular vs traditional construction

This article provides an outline of the important differences between modular and traditional construction methods:

  • The term ‘traditional’ is often used to describe the types of linear construction, where each individual step is not only constructed entirely (or largely) on site, but also needs to be completed before the project can move on to the next phase.
  • Modular construction is an off-site based construction method, during which individual components are manufactured (or ‘prefabricated’) in a factory, transported to the site entirely (or mostly) complete and assembled on location.

Both construction methods start in the same way – planning, design, approvals, site preparation and development. From that point forward, however, the differences begin:

Modular-vs-Traditional Infographic.png

Image source: Modscape

Pros and Cons of Modular Construction


  • Thanks to the ability for the project to run simultaneously on-site and in-factory, modular construction can be up to 50% quicker than traditional construction.
  • As major parts of construction are handled within a factory, weather conditions are often irrelevant during the majority of the project.
  • The factory-based manufacturing process allows not only for greater quality control during the manufacturing process but for many health and safety risks to be considerably reduced, if not eliminated,
  • The process aims to minimise waste and reduce the project’s carbon footprint, as fewer people are travelling to the site and modules are produced directly to spec using Computer Aided Manufacturing.
  • The impact on the community surrounding the construction site can be significantly reduced, due to much lower levels of noise and traffic during the project period
  • The methods employed in modular construction can often benefit the energy efficiency and airtightness of the final construction


  • Access to the site must be considered from the very beginning, as it will need to allow for the delivery of large modules.
  • Traditional construction allows for later design changes, while modular construction is unlikely to be able to factor these in, so early complete design sign off is crucial with clients.
  • The logistics and planning of individual module assembly will need rigorous planning to ensure a smooth project.

Ultimately, each project should be considered individually. The method that is selected should match the ultimate desired outcome and the individual limitations of each project.


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