How Modular Construction Saves Time

Besides offering stunning designs, top-notch build quality, and lower costs, modular construction also offers significant time savings.

To understand exactly how much time modular construction can save over traditional construction, let’s consider a typical villa project that might take a traditional construction company a year to complete.

From designing the building plans and creating the substructure (basements and foundations) to offsite manufacturing, onsite construction, and rework, we’ll compare the time it takes modular manufacturers and traditional construction firms to complete each step. And we’ll also explain how modular construction saves time along the way.

To keep the comparison realistic, we’ll use real numbers from McKinsey & Company’s “Modular construction: From projects to products.”


Design Process


Traditional construction process:

The design process for traditional construction is more straightforward than it is for modular construction. Architects don’t need to consider the intricacies of the factory manufacturing process or the logistics of packing and transporting modules. Yet, designs need to change once plans start to become a reality on the job site and work needs to be redone.

Completion time: 3 months


Modular manufacturing process:

In the past, modular manufacturers took longer to design their projects than traditional construction firms did. This is because modular designers have to account for the manufacturing process and transportation right in the build. Plus, they have to make certain design decisions upfront, as changes to module designs can be costly and difficult.

Yet as modular manufacturers develop libraries of modules and incorporate automated design, the design period has been reduced and is often shorter than in traditional construction.

Completion time: 1 month


Foundation Work


Traditional construction process:

In general, traditional construction companies and modular manufacturers take the same amount to build basements and foundations.

Completion time: 2 months


Modular manufacturing process:

While the process for building foundations is the same for both traditional construction firms and modular construction firms, modular construction does have one potential timer saving factor. Since modules need to be light for transport, the foundations used in modular construction tend to be lighter and stronger, which can also take less time to build.

Completion time: 1 months or less


Offsite Manufacturing


Traditional construction process:

In tradition construction, offsite manufacturing isn’t a factor, as all construction takes place onsite.

Completion time: 0 months


Modular manufacturing process:

The bulk of modular manufacturing takes place at the factory. This is also where modular manufacturing saves the most time.

Modular construction factories are tooled to build different modular elements concurrently instead of linearly (i.g., a third floor bathroom can be built before the third floor has been erected). Repeatable activities are automated. And as weather isn’t a concern in factories, there is also minimal downtime.

Yet perhaps the biggest time-saver is that offsite construction can take place simultaneously with foundation work, which isn’t possible in traditional construction. Plus, construction can continue in the factory while some modules are assembled onsite.

Completion time: 6 months (2 months concurrent with foundation work; 3 months concurrent with onsite assembly)


Onsite Construction


Traditional construction process:

In traditional construction, most of the work happens on the job site. Factors that contribute to the lengthy time involved include weather issues, a linear timeline where some work can’t be done until other work is finished, issues with subcontractors, and issues caused by complicated supply chains.

Completion time: 8-12 months


Modular manufacturing process:

Construction on modular sites is minimal. With the foundations in place and mechanical, electrical and plumbing work completed offsite, workers just need to assemble 3D modules and hook up utilities.

Completion time: 3–6 months




Traditional construction process:

On traditional job sites, mistakes can take months or longer to discover and fixing them can take just as long.

Completion time: about 2 months


Modular manufacturing process:

When things go wrong in the factory, they are easy to spot. The automated equipment requires exacting precision and defective materials or faulty work is quickly revealed. Thus, rework is rare in modular construction.

Completion time: 0 months


Total Time Savings

So how do the all time savings add up? Our typical condo project would take a traditional construction company about 12 months to complete. A modular manufacturer would take about 6 months, cutting the time in half. No wonder more and more people are choosing precrafted building manufacturers over traditional construction firms to build their next home or commercial project.

A modular manufacturer would take about 6 months, cutting the time in half.

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