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Last edited 07 May 2019
Modular construction could be the key to speed up school expansions
Most people are comfortable with bricks and mortar construction. They offer a sense of permanence and an investment in the future. However, modular construction for education, can provide a space that lasts beyond 50 years while being cost effective and purpose-built for learning.
One of the significant benefits of modular construction for schools is speed. With ever-expanding numbers now hitting schools, there is a demand for expansion of facilities at a faster rate. Proper planning can still make traditional construction practices valid, however, in a changing context of budget and educational policy, this is often not possible. Modular constructions could be the answer.
 How long would a traditional school expansion take?
Depending on the size of expansion, traditional bricks and mortar construction could take between 8 months and a year. If there are unforeseen delays, this could be much longer and this does not include the time needed for planning, design and permissions required.
The most challenging part of the process is the groundworks. This can be noisy and messy. Some of this work could be done in the long summer break. However, if you do this, you risk the significant portion of construction taking place in the winter months, leading to potential delays.
Therefore, if you select a traditional school expansion, you could be looking at a whole school year of disruption. The costs incurred are financially higher, but so is the price to productivity and results. Such a project also presumes that you can live without the space you are creating for the time of its planning, design, permissions, build and finishing.
You will need to meet with the builders to talk about how to minimise disruption to your school’s everyday work and then stay involved to adapt to problems or concerns. You will need to be constantly alert to potentials concerns and raise questions immediately.
 What about modular construction?
Having your building in place within 12 weeks is possible. It is possible to have much of the construction take place off-site, away from the students. It is possible to time the opening of your new modular buildings for the new school year.
A modular classroom is a permanent structure but one that could be moved if necessary. It is built to last for at least 50 years and can be designed to your specific brief. Although there are standard designs and builds of modular classrooms, it is possible to adapt this to your wishes at the design stage.
Most of the work is done off-site; therefore the build time can be quick. The frame and components are manufactured away from the school, as well as the canopy and flooring. As the classroom is being constructed away from the site, the ground works are completed. This allows for much shorter build time, with a 1st fix, cladding, 2nd fix and then handover in quick succession
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- British post-war mass housing.
- BSRIA launches Offsite Construction for Building Services topic guide.
- Construction problems avoided by using a modular approach.
- Kit house.
- Modern methods of construction.
- Modular buildings.
- Modular buildings in the educational sector.
- Off-site construction.
- Plug and play skyscrapers.
- Student accommodation.
- Types of building.
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