Prefabrication proponents offer solutions for an industry in flux

At Advancing Prefabrication event, advocates eye ways to mitigate construction challenges
Amy Marks of XSite Modular addresses attendees at the Advancing Prefabrication event in February. (Photo: Audree Grubesic)
The main topic in every conversation about prefabrication is change: builders changing their focus from cost savings to cost certainty. Fewer safety issues on construction sites. Lower contracted labor force hours and better-quality products, in addition to completing projects in less time.

[Related: Reduce construction waste, increase efficiency with modular building]

At Hanson Wade’s fourth annual Advancing Prefabrication event, the Queen of PreFab Amy Marks, owner of XSite Modular, asked how many superintendents were in the room. Several people raised their hands, and Marks said, “We are here to help make your job easier, and the way we do that is with prefabrication.”

There were almost 900 attendees at the four-day event in Dallas in February, which was a huge increase from the 200 who came only three years ago. The speakers who presented in the breakout rooms addressed single-trade prefabrication, multitrade prefabrication, modular strategy and culture, as well as how contractors can embed prefabrication in their organization, planning and design. Every single speaker or guest panelist shared their experiences and education, the obstacles they faced on a project and their solutions.

[Related: Offsite, on target—Building more with modular building]

There were general contractors and single trades in attendance, electricians, plumbers, HVAC companies, land developers, national construction companies, modular builders, factories, lenders, software developers, building product lines and people interested in prefabrication. This event’s sole purpose was to create industry partnerships and perspectives to help stakeholders expand their efforts in worldwide prefabrication.

Each prefabrication project, whether it’s a hospital, hotel or multifamily project, has one thing in common: project owners all have a clear goal. It may be reducing labor, sticking to a budget or creating a group of collaborators, but planning 24 to 36 months in advance and building a culture of thinking differently has increased each company’s future business. Once a project is completed, investors, the general contractor and the owner are already planning their next offsite project. The reason is clear—collaboration reduces risk while maximizing problem solving and allows cost certainty every time.

As Marty Corrado, general superintendent at JE Dunn Construction, said on a panel, “Change is coming just as construction is evolving. We don’t drink beer at lunchtime anymore. […] Prefabrication is here to assist the superintendent, to make their job easier.”

On JE Dunn’s latest hospital project, Corrado reported zero recordable incidents on the jobsite and eight-hour workday schedules, and completed the project on-time. Collaboration is the key to success in any business, and it is even more critical in prefabrication.

This event not only talked about the evolving process of prefabrication, but the solutions and ideas that speakers presented showed how builders and contractors can integrate prefabrication into traditional construction. It was apparent that the information offered gave attendees great insight and created new collaborations on exciting prefabrication processes.

 

Audree Grubesic is owner of Modular Sure Site, a general contractor for modular homes, and president of Connect Home Builders, a licensed modular home builder. She can be reached at [email protected]

Audree Grubesic

Audree Grubesic is owner of Modular Sure Site, a general contractor on modular homes, and president of Connect Home Builders, a licensed modular home builder. She can be reached at [email protected]

Audree Grubesic has 6 posts and counting. See all posts by Audree Grubesic

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