Working with modular construction manufacturers

We can add value to modular construction companies who are looking to offer a turn-key solution to their clients. We appreciate that these modular design companies have in-house designers but in our previous blogs on modular construction, above and below ground solutions, we identified the problems with foundations and the ancillary products not designed/covered by modular manufacturers.

By working with us, we can add value by providing the expertise structural engineering advice on both the foundations and the ancillary products on a project-by-project basis.

Foundations

Depending on the ground conditions, we can offer solutions for foundations beyond the usual, more expensive, go-to methods. Unlike other structural engineers that may not want to complete a thorough site investigation, we believe it is a fundamental requirement for finding not only the right but the most cost-effective solution. In areas like Oxford, where we are based, the ground is very variable from soft clay to granular deposits. Understanding the ground conditions, and how they are affected throughout the year, allows us to find more creative solutions than piling, which is expensive and brings the added complication of calculating for the sulphates in the clay.

An alternative solution that we often recommend for modular construction foundations is rafts, whether piled, ground bearing or rafts on improved ground. A raft spreads out the load and provides a nice flat base on which to build. They are also at ground level and have discrete fixing points, which are a further advantage, and means the modular construction does not have to have legs that will be put into the ground – saving on the complications of steelwork treatment.

We understand the need for close collaboration between the modular manufacturers, civil engineers and connecting services to ensure everything fits as it should and there are no clashes. Having a structural engineer consult and provide foundation solutions in coordination with all other suppliers is a valuable and unique proposition.

Ancillary Products

In our experience, modular construction companies, especially those dealing with timber, do not offer the additional designs of balconies, walkways and any masonry elements. Wall-ties, connectors and how balconies and walkways are to be retrained and secured must be included in the modular design. The NHBC generally rejects timber balconies and walkways, and requires metal, which is why the majority of modular designs do not include them. With our consultancy, modular construction companies could easily add these elements to their designs and offer a complete and comprehensive solution.

We understand what is needed and what is often left out from modular designs that developers and building contractors require to complete the job, so why not work with us to provide a complete solution in line with the architect’s vision? A comprehensive turn-key solution for modular construction developments.

For more information and to discuss the potential of consulting on a design project, please give us a call on 01993 225 085 or email mail@swjconsulting.co.uk.