Modular Construction - Do You Mean Trailer?

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How do you design a modular building so that it looks like a planned addition and not a temporary trailer?

The best approach is to make the modular building blend into the existing campus by building the new modular building so that it will mimic the predominant architectural features of your main facility. This is easily done because modular construction offers a wide variety of exterior veneers that allow the modular building to seamlessly blend in with its architectural surroundings.

A question that is often asked is what's the cost difference between a professionally- designed modular building compared to a temporary trailer or skid structure? Literally, the cost is just pennies per-square-foot. Another common question is what’s the resale potential for a modular building compared to a temporary trailer or skid structure? State-approved modular buildings have a strong secondary-use market. Site-constructed skid buildings and non-coded trailers do not. It just does not make sense to waste your money on a trailer or skid when, for pennies per-square-foot more, you can have a professionally-designed facility.

What most modular construction projects lack is a plan to integrate the modular building into the property. We refer to this plan as the Installation Criteria and it allows you the opportunity to seamlessly blend the modular building with your site. The Installation Criteria will determine whether or not your modular building will add value to your property and look like a planned addition or resemble a temporary trailer. The following key elements are evaluated in order to determine the best method for installation:

  • What are your project objectives?
  • What are you trying to achieve by the use of the facility?
  • What is the timeframe for anticipated use?
  • What is the timeframe if the need is extended?
  • How much of your budget do you want to dedicate to site development?
  • What are the existing site conditions and your slope of grade?
  • What are the defining architectural features around the building site?
  • What is the best way to use these features to accent your modular building?

Consider how the physical design of your workplace has a powerful effect on the productivity of your faculty and students. If you offer them an attractive and functional environment, it will open up the path for learning and productivity. It is a proven fact that people respond differently to various colors, shapes and textures. Create a comfortable, quiet, safe haven to grow and learn for your faculty and students. You must minimize distractions and maximize stimulus. Different types of facilities encourage a variety of new behaviors. Create an environment that will foster a positive reaction from your students and staff.

Allow for the possibility that your project may exceed its original plan of a short-term solution. It is quite common for a short-term space needs to develop into long-term additions to your property. Plan for a long-term space solution and enjoy the increased aesthetic appeal over the short-term. Use landscaping around your modular building. Add depth, color and texture to an ordinary flat surface with small trees and shrubs. Create an impressive entrance into your modular building by using auxiliary structures such as a portico or porch. Take your visitor's eye away from the square lines of the modular building with interesting supplementary features. Create an attractive egress design that uses your slope of grade to develop a functional and appealing entrance.

Your temporary space project is much more than just generic specifications and a basic floor plan. Any factory can construct a modular building, but it takes imagination, creative design, complete customer need evaluation and overall project planning to create a successful modular project. Plan in advance for the long-term situation and utilize the benefits in the short-term. Take the time to properly plan your modular construction project and enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.

This article was co-written by Jeff Austin and Lisa Austin of Modular Building Associates located in Coppell, Texas. For more information, please call 866-266-4622 (4MBA) or visit their web site at

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Jeff Austin