Building towards the future of affordable housing
We’re living in times of change, and the world is in desperate need of a more sustainable way to construct and maintain the buildings we depend upon to keep our society running. Across Canada, communities face housing shortages and homelessness crises as traditional building methods fail to meet society’s immediate needs. Governments and communities need affordable housing, field hospitals, medical facilities, and senior care facilities. These challenges must be solved quickly as need grows.
A better way to build
The world seems to be awakening to the fact that factory-built (modular) construction can provide a solution to these challenges. Individual modules are built indoors in a factory and then shipped and assembled on site, like life-sized LEGO® blocks. In North America, the market share of new real-estate construction projects using modular construction grew by 51% from 2015 to 2018. One report suggests that building modular can accelerate project timelines by 20% to 50% while saving developers 20% in construction costs.
A recent CNBC article points out that factory-built construction is hardly a new concept. In the 1940s, the technology was used to address the housing shortage in post-war Britain. More than 150,000 units were constructed between 1945 and 1949. Several decades later, cities are again looking to modular to solve unprecedented building challenges.
A modular solution to housing shortages
Like many communities across Canada, London, Ontario is considering this process as part of their solution to the housing shortage. The City of London and their Housing Development Corporation is looking to modular options to advance housing projects as soon as possible to address the needs of those who remain in temporary shelter accommodations. Innovative solutions to this issue are also being used in cities like Toronto.
Modular construction as a solution to housing crises has already begun to be adopted in provinces like British Columbia, where BC Housing’s Rapid Response to Homelessness initiative aims to build over 2,000 modular supportive housing units total across B.C. to address the province’s homelessness crisis. More than two years after the launch of this initiative, hundreds of at-risk individuals now have a comfortable place to call home.
Since the 2019 completion of Goodacre Place, a supportive housing complex in Smithers, BC, the building’s operators have reported high satisfaction with their units and less dependency on emergency services. The building highlighted the advantages of modular construction: the three storey, 24-suite complex was delivered in just over seven months, with minimal disruption to the community and the environment, and the building’s alpine appearance blends seamlessly into the surrounding community.
The future of modular construction
New innovations continue to make modular construction an even more appealing option for communities and developers. The industry is evolving rapidly, with emerging lighter-weight materials and advanced technology enhancing production speed, efficiency, and quality. Improved processes have resulted in greater scalability and repeatability, where similar modules can be easily replicated in the factory, reducing costs and time. Housing is being delivered faster, safer, and with improved reliability and durability.
In cases where certain modular fabricators (factories) are slow to catch up to new technologies or are restricted to certain locations, companies have emerged offering a more flexible and integrated model, where accessing a wider pool of fabricators ensures each project and client is matched with a factory—location, technology, capacity, and price—that is best suited for them.
Leaving things better
All of the above add up to a variety of benefits for communities in need of housing and infrastructure, including faster completion/occupancy, greater cost and schedule certainty, less community disruption, limited weather impacts, and reduced construction site waste.
With modular construction, communities and developers have access to what may ultimately be a better way to address the urgent need for housing: quickly, sustainably, and without sacrificing the aesthetics, programming, and overall building intent for the individual or family occupant.
Click here to learn more about modular construction and how Nomodic’s approach to construction can assist you with your next build.
This post is in partnership with Nomodic.