Many of us will be familiar with the old fashioned ‘huts’ we used to inhabit as school children. At the time, those prefabricated buildings served a purpose – to allow for a relatively pain-free, quick and easy expansion of premises in a cost-effective manner.
This same ethos still applies to schools’ requirements today, but the solutions available are far more modern and practical, and arguably much easier on the eye.
Schools looking for options in terms of modular buildings would do well to consider ESPO’s Modular Buildings Framework 953.
There are myriad building options out there to choose from, which is where the ESPO framework comes into play. It seeks to present those options more clearly by organising them into five key building types, one of which is ‘education’.
The other four consist of healthcare, catering, accommodation and ‘other’, the aim being to cover pretty much all popular modular building eventualities. The framework further includes options to either hire a modular building or buy one outright, providing further flexibility.
Framework 953 enables suppliers to provide ‘off-the-shelf’ standardised buildings (which customers can ether buy or hire via a direct award process) or ones that are more highly specified and tailored towards particular build specifications via a further competition process.
The fact that many leading providers and well-respected names in the industry are signed up to the framework is testament to the public sector’s continuing demand for modular buildings.
It remains the case that they can be significantly cheaper than traditional buildings, which is, of course, a key consideration for those working within the education sector.
The flexibility of current modular systems is impressive. Though classed as ‘prefabricated’ buildings, to distinguish them from permanent structures, the utility they can provide is worlds away from the modular buildings stereotype that persists in the popular imagination.
These structures are modern, light-filled and airy, while simultaneously strong and reliable.
Constructed off-site to a desired specification for onward delivery to the customer, modular buildings boast a number of other advantages over costly permanent structures.
Because they’re manufactured in a dedicated facility, schools can avoid delays caused by weather conditions and other on-site challenges, thus ensuring a more dependable build programme. Those factory conditions can also ensure a consistent quality of product, with modules being closely monitored throughout the construction process.
Specifying modular buildings can also help cut down on waste, with material supplies easier to control and virtually all waste being recycled. The manufacturing of modules can commence while the site and its foundations are prepared on site, significantly speeding up the build process.
The delivery and installation of modules is furthermore quick, thus reducing the impact of construction work on the school’s operations. Finally, modular buildings are easy to expand at a later date, and can be relocated when needed.
Russell McCarten is a Category Manager at the professional buying organisation ESPO.