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EDiS embraces pre-fab construction for better quality, lower costs

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By Alex Vuocolo
Senior Reporter

Construction is sometimes difficult, unpredictable work. Contractors balance multiple labor pools and specialists, diverging schedules, customer satisfaction, safety concerns and unforeseen costs.

That’s one reason why some firms have embraced modular construction. Generally defined as construction that takes place off-site, the technique has become more popular for companies looking to build cheaper, faster and in more stable working conditions.

“Instead of doing it stick-by-stick, you’re putting in complete walls,” said Rob Belfiore, vice president of pre-construction planning and strategic growth at EDiS. “Instead of doing one stud at a time, you’re doing
40 studs.”

Globally the practice is on the rise. MarketsandMarkets reports that modular construction is growing
7 percent annually and projected to increase in value from $112.4 billion to $157 billion by 2023. The same noted that the housing sector will drive much of this growth.

In many cases, modular construction is equated with building whole floors or segments of the building off-site. This is common for large institutions with simple, monotonous designs, such as  prisons or college dormitories. In Delaware, modular construction — or as Belfiore prefers to call it, pre-fabrication — focuses more on building parts and components.

That could mean a wall system, a restroom or the plumbing or mechanical systems buried inside
the building.

With restrooms, for instance, EDiS will sometimes construct the plumbing first, and after taking precise measurements, build the room around the pipes.

“You’re not snaking plumbing through the walls,” Belfiore said. “You’re building the walls around
the plumbing.”

This kind of precision work off-site has cost advantages as well. Belfiore noted that labor is much more expensive on wage-rated construction sites than in-house fabrication sites.

“It comes down to labor in general,” Belfiore said. “Even if it’s a non-wage-rated project, it’s a quality thing. It’s a speed thing.”

Aiding these methods is the expanded use of 3D printing. EDiS uses a system called BIM (Building Information Modeling) during design and material fabrication. The process helps reduce delays and change orders, according to the firm.

The idea is that by measuring, designing and building ahead they can pre-empt issues that might
occur on the job site.

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