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Prefabricated BuildingsBy Nilanjan Bhowal
Architecture Tweet 0 Comment(s)
As the name suggests, prefabricated buildings are structures pre-built elsewhere and installed on a selected location (Site). The extent of the manufacturer’s prefabrication can vary from structure to structure but generally the major components of the building are constructed offsite. Designs of prefabricated buildings also vary as do the materials used in their construction.
The genesis of prefab construction was prompted by war time housing, where construction had to be very fast with minimum labor and multiple repetitive units needed to be erected.
Prefabricated offices, schools, churches and homes have all been built in different locations throughout the world. Construction materials include wood, concrete, metal etc typically used in building and factory engineering.
Factory-control makes the best use of materials and produces less waste and also reduces energy consumption compared to on-site construction. These buildings can also be green certified.
Prefabricated homes are commonly known as modular homes which are generally transported to site and can be assembled in mere days (depending on the complexity of the structure) unlike typical construction which usually take months time to complete. They follow the concept of Lego blocks which are constructed as separate elements, like the walls, the floor slab, doors, windows etc. and assembled on the site. These elements have certain restrictions of the span and designs as they are factory constructed. Depending on the type of construction they can easily be dismantled and reassembled in another place.
Pre fabricated buildings can be designed for virtually any use and are ideally suited to operations requiring short construction time and/or relatively inexpensive construction costs. They are also an excellent solution in locations where conditions prohibit or otherwise impair onsite construction. In most cases, this drastically reduces construction time and cost, and allows construction to take place regardless of environmental conditions, site issues etc. The disadvantage for the client in this situation is that once the design is finalized, it cannot be modified as all the electrical conduits and plumbing sleeves are installed at the factory itself. Another drawback of the pre-fabricated building is that since the structure is made on a very large scale, it can appear monotonous if not designed aesthetically.
As of now, the usage of pre- fabricated buildings in India is restricted to factories and sheds and also as an alternative for army barracks. The concept of Pre- fabricated buildings is still new and needs to be properly established. Since the labor cost here is comparatively low, the need for prefab construction as a low cost option is not required. The lack of proper machinery to handle pre- fabricated buildings is also a reason why it still lacks a footing here. It is used more as a construction option on difficult terrains, and places where weather conditions don't suit construction.
Just as you assemble a car, prefab buildings are built on the same concept. It is a very popular concept in UK, USA etc. where labour cost is very high; as the labour cost is increasing in India as well, gradually the big real estate developers are moving towards this technology and it will witness it as a new trend in the near future.
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