Building sites can be disorganized places and are subject to the vagaries of the weather and varying skills of a transient work force. These days you can construct most of your building inside a factory and then assemble the pieces on site. The result is a higher quality building and far shorter construction period.
It’s not a new idea. In the past pre-fabs came to have a bad name. Many were used in post war Britain to house thousands of people following the blitz. Many of them are still in use.
In contemporary construction things are rather different. Clean controlled factory conditions make for greater precision and a higher quality of finish. This affects not only aesthetics but can also improve building performance by for example creating more airtight structures.
Working in a controlled and weather tight environment improves working conditions and reduces health and safety risks. Pollution and waste production can be controlled and minimized more easily. Water can be recycled in a factory situation.
The reduced period on site reduces the local impacts such as noise and dust.
Freeing the construction process from weather constraints and the greater efficiency (less mistakes) can reduce the construction time by up to 50 % and achieve a higher quality of build.
Furthermore pre-fabricated buildings tend to be lightweight in structure so can offer the potential for smaller foundations and therefore less groundwork reducing costs and environmental impact with less spoil being removed from the site and fewer concrete deliveries.
Off site construction methods do not necessarily result in energy efficient buildings. It is about the building process. Some energy efficient methods facilitate the achievement of high energy efficient structures and others do not.
Author: John Wolfendale
Bio: John is a founder of Eco Vida and is passionate about bringing modern design and construction practices to Spain. He believes a home which is warm in winter and cool in summer is largely a matter of design and selective use of materials. He is British and a Chartered Surveyor with 18 years experience living and working in Spain.