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Modular construction. Is it really all that?

Why it's important to know the facts when it comes to modular construction

sheenmount modular construction

Blame it on Grand Designs why we’re all a bit too over-excited about modular construction. It started with that episode in 2004 when the house was built in seven days. Apparently the building manufacturer’s website crashed ten minutes after the programme aired due to the sheer level of enquiries.

But let’s clear up a few common misconceptions. Whilst it is indeed possible to put together the structure of a modular house and make it watertight in a week, there’s a whole lot more time spent both before and after. In fact, every other part of the process is exactly the same, in terms of time and money, as if you were using traditional building methods. You still have to dig foundations, you still have to get all the services in, you still have to fit out and, well, you get the picture.

And modular only really works on simple structures. Offsite fabrication may be quicker and might, therefore, save money, but once you start designing irregular shapes, heights and sections, cost differentials become ever closer. If the design is well conceived, you can construct a traditional building onsite for the same price as the modular equivalent. We know this because it’s our business model. As an interdisciplinary consultancy, our architects, engineers and surveyors work together from the outset of any project to ensure we produce a complete design with cost and quality certainty. So before getting seduced by the modular route, it’s key to see the whole picture and remember that the only difference is the time saved putting the structure up onsite.

Having said all this, we’re not totally opposed to modular construction and will use it when it really is the best option.  Recently we designed a school extension using a hybrid of modular and traditional construction. Our challenge was to deliver an extension that was sympathetic to its surroundings and was ready to use in just eight months on site. Our answer was a simple box design, fabricated quickly offsite, with a traditionally constructed roof to match the existing building.

At the beginning of any project, we undertake a comprehensive feasibility study to ascertain which construction method or methods best meet the client’s needs in terms of time, quality and budget, or any other factors specified.

To find out how DHP can give you a high quality yet affordable building, please call us on 01932 850100 or email us.


This timelapse of a modular construction project demonstrates that the work around the actual putting up of the structure is the same as if you were employing traditional construction methods.

Written by Bernadette Keane

Bernadette Keane, Social Media Coordinator
Bernadette has over 15 years' experience in marketing communications, mainly as a copywriter working on big brands such as the BBC, Sony Ericsson, Department of Health and Disney. In recent years, she has specialised in social media, specifically content management. She is responsible for designing and implementing DHP’s social media strategy, creating relevant content, blogging, community participation and leadership.

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