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November 6, 2018

Three More Considerations for the Development and Site Planning of Modular Construction Projects

By Chris Schmidt

In our last blog, we looked at the top five considerations for developing and site planning of modular construction projects. Since we couldn’t fit everything in, we have three more considerations for you to look at when you are developing your next modular construction project.

Site Planning

Rectangular sites are optimal for the design of a building using modular units. Because of the regularity of the module shape and dimension parameters, modules can be easily placed and stacked to create a rectangular building. Designs using modular construction parameters on an irregular site might need to consider on-site constructed building elements. While not a major impediment in the design and construction process, on-site constructed elements should be identified early in the design process, Schematic Design, to ensure that correct construction pricing and coordination, and design scope responsibilities, are considered in budget and other project management critical path assumptions. Similarly, fully built walls of modular units, when connected, increase the total floor area of building plans. Therefore, setbacks and height limitations should be considered when developing initial site plan, building massing, and development capacity studies.

Building Height and Width

It is important to research actual height measurement parameters in local land use ordinances. Modular units have finished ceilings and floors that are stacked and can add up to an additional five feet more than a standard on-site constructed building. As such, a variance may be needed to accommodate the additional height that stacking modular units would create.

State and Municipal Plan Reviews

Both state and municipal building and permitting agencies review construction documents for modular developments. The state agency reviews construction documents for the modular units and performs on-site inspections at the modular fabricator facilities to ensure compliance with residential applicable construction codes and regulations. Based upon a successful inspection, a certification of building approval is applied to the individual modular units.

The Municipal agency reviews construction documents regarding building code and regulation compliance for the on-site constructed elements of the building, OSHA regulations, and other construction requirements apart from parameters of the modular unit design and construction, which is regulated by the State. Both agencies typically receive a complete set of construction documents. Fees for the State review and inspection of the modular units are typically included in the modular fabricator’s fees. Fees for Municipal agency review and inspections are paid by the developer, and even though they are not responsible for reviewing the entire building, fees are not discounted and are typically calculated based on total construction costs. The project manager, architect of record, and modular fabricator engineer should coordinate a meeting with both permitting agencies before completing the Schematic Design process. At this meeting, the project manager and agencies should confirm and clarify documentation and coordination between the agencies that may be requested or required and should discuss module inspections on-site due to limitations of testing at the modular factory.

Now that you know more keys to development and site planning for a modular construction project, contact us today and find out why Z Modular is The Only Way to Build®


Modular Construction – Multifamily residential development Type III and Type V Construction, Mercy Homes, pages 6-7