Prefabrication is an important tool for those practicing industrialized construction.
But not everything on a project is delivered more efficiently with prefabrication. Some components or elements of a building are more suited for prefab than others.
Standardized building systems, complex assemblies, and repetitive subcomponents of a building are three examples of applications likely to be successful with prefab.
1. “Unnoticed” Building Systems
Commodity assemblies – parts mostly required by code – often go unnoticed.
These building systems don’t make or break the finished project, and so they are more price-sensitive than other systems.
Fire stairs, elevators, plumbing, heating and cooling, and ADA-compliant spaces are examples of building systems that could easily be prefabricated, ordered directly by the owner, and delivered to the worksite ready to be installed.
2. Complex Systems
High-end, intricate elements of a building, for example a unique façade system or other stand-alone component, may be more successfully installed if panelized and prefabricated off the job site.
3. Components of a Building
Repetitive subcomponents can make up 75% of a project in some types of buildings.
For example, patient rooms in hospitals, guest bathrooms and kitchenettes in hotels, classrooms in schools, and labs in research facilities are subcomponents that are replicated over and over again within the building.
Components that make up certain building types can be built offsite more efficiently at scale, and installed on site more quickly.
When planning a project, don’t assume that prefab is an all or nothing proposition. Some parts of a building are much better suited to off-site fabrication than others.
These prefab components will end up being delivered in less time, and at much higher quality, with as much as 30% savings.
Patrick Mays, AIA
With over 30 years of AEC experience, Mr. Mays is part of the core team driving the AEC industry strategy at Dassault Systèmes. Mr. Mays was the General Manager for North America at Graphisoft, and served as CIO at NBBJ Architects where he led the firm’s transition to BIM in the 1990s.
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