Prefabrication on commercial projects a process some companies are working with
Prefabricated housing-a construction method in which manufacture takes place off-site in advance, usually in standard sections that can be easily shipped and assembled-has become common in low-cost housing developments. Up until now, that trend hasn’t spread very widely.
Now, even high-end commercial buildings and hospitals are beginning to use the process.
Prefabricated housing is said to be good for the unions, in which tradesmen are glad to be back at work after years of thin pickings, as well as for customers, who are able to get construction projects done more quickly, as well as construction companies, who can have more control over the environment in which the construction takes place.
Pre-fabrication is currently being used in a hospital project near the University of Delaware. Skanska USA, the company working on the project, has been using the process to construct a new unit for Nemours. Using prefabrication on commercial units is a relatively new development, but one which some are excited about. But not everybody is convinced of the advantages.
Advocates admit that prefabrication on such projects is an experiment, and that it remains to be seen whether it will result in savings. Reduced injuries and less need for labor are two cited advantages. But subcontractors are still hesitant to bid less on prefab commercial jobs, since the practice is so new.
As with any innovation in the industry, it remains to be seen whether the practice will catch on. IF it does, may or may not catch on quickly, depending on the way advantages weigh against costs and risks.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Prefab construction, more common in housing, is the method of choice on a Delaware hospital project,” Joseph N. DiStefano, February 25, 2013