Prefabricated Structure: An environment-friendly approach

Prefabrication has shown rapid growth in the construction industry Worldwide in the last few decades.
The prefabricated structure follows a construction process where a variety of components required in a building are manufactured in a factory and transported to the site. It is a method in which the construction is either partially or fully done off-site. These prefabricated components may include walls, doors, windows, staircase, floor panels, slab, etc.

Prefabricated construction is generally considered of low value and not given much importance, especially in India. But in reality, the prefabricated building has many benefits as compared to traditional building construction techniques.

Pros of Prefabricated Structure

  • Faster Construction process- As the components of the prefab structure are manufactured indoors, there is no interference of weather obstructions on site. No on-site curing is needed and thus prefabricated construction can help reduce the construction period and there are no delays on site.
  • Reduces site chaos- As the components are only assembled and combined together on-site, there is no pollution caused during the construction process and reduces the waste produced. This method results in clean and dry work on site.
  • Enhances quality- There is more accuracy and better finish achieved as everything is manufactured in a weather-resistant factory under the supervision of experts, and many parts are manufactured using machines.
  • Flexible- Prefab structure is quite flexible as it can be easily disassembled and relocated to a different site and can also be altered as per design changes.
  • Pocket friendly- Prefab construction is generally thought of as an expensive method but in reality, this method is quite affordable and can end you up with savings.
  • Ecofriendly- Prefabricated structure has tighter joints and better air filtration, which allows better wall insulation. Thus, it is considered energy-efficient and sustainable construction.
  • Larger clear spans- Prefab construction allows for wider clear spans allowing obstruction-free interior spaces.

Cons of Prefabricated Structure

  • Transportation damage- Handling and transportation can damage the building components.
  • Reduces Labor employment- As prefabricated structures are manufactured in factories and require skilled labor it reduces the employment opportunities for local laborers.
  • Inaccurate assembling- Great attention should be made while assembling the components as any inaccuracy can weaken the joints and create voids and leakages.

Structural stability in Prefab construction-

In Prefabricated structure, the question arises about how its foundation works. There are two possibilities for the foundation in prefab construction-

  • On-site foundation- This process is the same as the traditional construction technique where construction work for the foundation is done on-site and the rest of the components are manufactured in a factory and connected to the foundation on site.
  • Prefabricated foundation- This process works the same as other prefabricated building construction components. In this process, the foundation components are also manufactured in the factory and assembled on site.

Materials used in Prefabricated Structure-

To meet the nature of the requirement, materials for prefabricated construction should be durable, must withstand the structural load, and should be light in weight for easy transportation.

With the development and new innovations over time, today there are several materials that can be used for the prefabricated structure.

  • Some of the most common ones for structure are concrete, steel, wood, etc.
  • The door and windows consist of materials like wood, metal, PVC, aluminum, FRP.
  • Floors and walls make use of gypsum, wood, concrete, PVC tiles.
  • Concrete, stones, steel, aluminum, gypsum are some of the materials that can be used for slabs.
  • For low-cost prefab structure Ferro cement, straw bale, calcium silicate can also be used.

Prefab construction helps in reduction of material wastage as most of the material can be recycled in factory.

Types of Prefabricated Construction-

  1. Sandwich Panels- These panels are used for roofs and walls and serve thermal insulation. The panel includes core made of insulating material such as foam, paper, cloth, or rubber sandwiched between two thin facings of concrete, plywood, steel, or aluminum.
  2. Framing system- There are mainly three materials used for framing of prefab structure; steel, panelized wood, and timber.
    Steel framing is been used for building construction for ages and is one of the most strong and durable materials when it comes to prefab construction used for the entire structure.
    Panelized wooden framing is used mainly for roofs covered by plywood, these panel frames can be as long as 72 feet.
    Timber frames are quite popular outside India as they are used for the construction of timber homes.
  3. Concrete systems- In this type, the complete 3d concrete fragments for prefab structure are cast in factories and assembled on site. They are light in weight but are very good in strength.
  4. Modular systems- This system use a 3d module of the building made entirely in the factory and delivered to the site. This 3d module is then connected with the prepared foundation on site.

Prefabricated construction has seen continuous growth in popularity and it is likely to see its importance growing in the coming time. The occupants of prefabricated structure enjoy high-quality, quicker, and cost-effective eco-friendly construction.

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