New Year New Ideas

We would like to start a New Year by touching on a subject of an architect whose name is widely recognizable. It is someone who built innovative, built magnificent and timeless buildings. Someone who believed in ideas and believed in progress. He also believed in harmony of buildings and their surroundings. Harmony of buildings with nature.

This person is an American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He is the architect of Fallingwater (famous house), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Johnson Wax Headquarters, Marin County Civic Centre and many more groundbreaking architectural designs.

Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright

You may be thinking, why as a portable office company, we are looking at people such as Frank Lloyd Wright? We believe in learning about architecture and design in a broad sense. We believe in learning from the best and we would like you to take inspiration from the best as well, just like we do. Excellence of a great mind like Frank Lloyd Wright inspires. For us, even if it’s not modular/portable type of build, Wright inspires with his values and ideas. He teaches us to look at buildings and look at design in an innovative way.

If, after your Christmas brake, you wonder how can you come back to your work routine, you may think you need a little push or some inspiration. Frank Lloyd Wright may do just that. There are two quotes by Wright which we would like to quote today as an inspiration. Before we do that, you may ask yourself; Were would you be in your life if you would not aim for the stars? Where would we be?


Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Looking at most of his designs it is clear to see that he always stayed close to this belief. Wright looked at nature and building surroundings as a guide for his ideas in order to design. We would like to propose his quotes as a beautiful guide for the new year. If you think of a new built, aim to compliment your surroundings when imagining your new building. It may not necessarily be Frank Lloyd Wright design but yours. You can be the guide of this new adventure. Design influenced greatly by your idea of the space can also be grand. When you think of purchasing a new building, think innovative and reach for the stars. Finally, we would like to finish off with a second quote by Wright, “An idea is salvation by imagination.” As a motto for New Year, this is what we would like to believe in. We invite you all, to look into the nearest future by following this inspiring quote. Not all of us may become as innovative as Frank Lloyd Wright, but some of us will. And those who won’t, can still aim high and achieve high. Improving our surroundings may be a simple act, a simple idea. Better future is in the reach of our hands. Reach as high as you can. Taking this opportunity, we would like to finish off by wishing you all a truly Happy New Year 2019.

Site Preparation /plastic base/

The final option of modular building foundation which we will be discussing today is a plastic building base. It is a less popular option for the building foundation and it is often referred to as a summer house base or a shed base.

Its use is less popular but there are advantages to using it and this is why we would like to discuss it as an option. The reason why plastic building base is a less popular choice in comparison to other building foundation methods is mainly the fact that it is more suitable to use under very small buildings.

The local authority control team will advise if the surface present is suitable for construction. In comparison with traditional structures, portable buildings are less invasive which equals with less hassle in terms of planning permission. Preassessment of groundwater and soil may still in some cases be required. It is detrimental to know the type of ground surface you are planning to build on. Consequently, the first advice we give when it comes to the use of plastic building base is to check if the surface present is suitable. The better your knowledge concerning existent surface the better the chance of undertaking the right decision regarding the type of foundation.

Any potential groundwater issues need to be taken into consideration and addressed if needed. In regards to plastic building base, a correct drainage may help with water reduction in contact with the building. Plastic building base can be filled with pea gravel in order to produce a French drain which redirects water from the area. Building control team may suggest other solutions as well.

We always stress about the ground level. Plastic building base, as any other foundation, needs to be in level in order to avoid deterioration of the building. If the foundation is not level, parts of the buildings such as door and window frames may go out of alignment. This could then lead to issues with opening and closing windows and doors. It could also lead to leakages inside the building.

Plastic building base is often advertised as suitable to use under summerhouses, garden playhouses, bike stores, pavilions and more. We usually recommend it under smaller buildings. You can find this type of base as parking grids as well. Often present by recreation grounds, playgrounds and more. It is used to reinforce car park ground surface in order to make it easier to manage and care for the parking grounds.

When the ground surface is reinforced there will be less danger of potential issues caused by harsh weather conditions through the year, particularly by rainfalls.

Finally, plastic building base is often advertised as an eco-friendly solution. This is often based on its production process being focused on the use of recycled plastic. We recommend for everyone who considers any type of foundation to look into it more and ask questions. That way,  you will find the right type of foundation which is suitable to your needs. 

Site Preparation /jackpads/easypads/

As discussed in previous articles, there are several ways of preparing the ground under a modular building. Out of the list of four, concrete base and concrete blocks have already been discussed. We are left with the last two, which are as follows; jakpads/easypads and plastic building base (often referred to as a summer house base or shed base).

Our focus goes to jackpads/easypads for the current article. Let us start by clarifying that jackpads and easypads are almost identical products made by different brands. In our opinion, both are ok to use. We do not tend to advise on brands but rather on product types. Jackpads/easypads are ready to use when bought off the shelf, similar to concrete blocks in this sense.

During the process of designing a modular building for a client, we discuss various options for ground preparation choice under a building and it is up to our client to choose his/her preference. When it comes to the use of jackpads/easypads, ground surface already present needs to be firm, so that there is no probability of a building settlement. In most cases the surface present is concrete.                                               Jackpads/easypads layout is prepared by an architect and a client is provided with the layout drawings in order to prepare the surface prior to modular building arrival.

Some of our clients are not keen on using jackpads/easypads because of aesthetic reasons. Jackpads/easypads are similar in use to concrete blocks, leaving us with much the same aesthetic outcome. This means empty gaps under the building, as you may see on the photos of examples provided. If a client sees those gaps as an issue, it could be resolved with the use of metal cladding. We will discuss more options for upgrading the aesthetics of the modular building foundation in another article.

An additional advantage of jackpads/easypads use is the possibility of combining them together with a concrete slab. It is particularly useful if there is a need for access ramp construction and/or the outside staircase. Jackpads/easypads are therefore one of the most flexible and convenient ways of preparing the surface under a modular building.

Site Preparation /concrete blocks/

Possible options as a ground base preparation under a modular building are as follows;

– concrete base

– concrete blocks

– jackpads/easypads

– plastic building base (often referred to as a summer house base or shed base)

We discussed concrete base as a ground base preparation option in one of our recent articles. Today we will be discussing concrete blocks. The main advantage of concrete blocks over the concrete base is the fact that they are ready to buy and use off-the-shelf. It means that you don’t need to worry about extensive preparation and drying process. 

Our team will advise whether concrete blocks are sufficient to use as a ground base under our building. Our architect assesses the size of the building and gives advice on the type of foundation needed.  As part of planning permission process, the local council will advise whether the ground surface present is suitable for construction. The nature of our buildings is not permanent but portable which means that in most cases there is no need for additional ground surface tests. 

Important information you need to know about concrete blocks is how to lay them down. This will be drawn out by our architect during the designing process. A contractor can then lay down concrete blocks for you. If you have some experience with this type of work, you could potentially lay them down yourself. A level of concrete blocks is most crucial and will be checked by our team prior to modular building assembly so that it can be slightly adjusted if needed. 

When concrete blocks are in use though, you are left with empty spaces under the building. Some clients are not keen on an overall aesthetical look of the building exterior when they are left with those empty spaces within the foundation of the building. For every problem, there is a solution though. You can get rid of those empty spaces. The simplest way to do that is with the use of cladding, particularly metal cladding. Another option could be with the use of plants. In a separate article, we will be discussing more extensively some of the possibilities of making the exterior of the building look more appealing. 

Site Preparation /concrete base/

There is a site preparation requirement prior delivery of a modular building. This requirement is ground base preparation. The purpose of this is mainly to level the ground/surface present. During the process of ordering and designing a building, we advise each client on the subject of ground base preparation. The client decides on the type of base he/she wants to choose so that architect can advise on what is needed. Depending on the size and the type of the building chosen, we will always advise on the options. There are different types of ground base preparation under construction of a modular building. We would like to discuss some of the most popular choices among our clients as well as discuss our own preferences;

– concrete base

– concrete blocks

– jackpads/easypads

– plastic building base (often referred to as summer house base or shed base)

Today, we will talk about concrete base which can be used as a ground base preparation under our portable cabins. The concrete base is our favorite choice of ground base preparation and we often recommend it to our clients. The main reason for that is the reliability of concrete base. We need to remember that weight of an empty building is spread out evenly at first, but as soon as we put furniture in, some areas within the building interior will be holding more weight and naturally putting more stress onto the foundation. This is completely natural but if for any reason, the foundation is not leveled properly, we may start noticing problems such as difficulties with shutting windows and doors. Particularly if the construction is to be undertaken on a soft ground, large slab of concrete base will prevent building foundation settlement on any of the sides resulting in preventing mentioned problems. If prepared in the right manner, the conrete base is a very stable and safe ground. When the ground base is looked at, discussed with our architect and prepared in the right manner, all potential problems with building settlement will be avoided.

Our architect will advise not only on the size and depth of the concrete slab needed but also on the class of the concrete to be used. Our client can then choose a local contractor to prepare ground base under the building and after that, we can deliver our portable building on site.

It is important to remember that you need to allow extra time for preparation of a concrete base. A contractor will use reinforcing metal mesh to hold the concrete together and then pour the concrete in, leveling the ground. Concrete will then start drying. Not only the job itself takes time but drying takes time as well, depending on the size of the building. A typical concrete base will dry for about two weeks but as already mentioned, a drying process is dependent on different factors. Particularly when low temperatures are present, we may be forced to wait longer.

There is another reason why our clients often choose concrete base instead of other ground base preparation options. While some may say concrete is not an aesthetically appealing material, when using it as your base you will not have to worry about gaps left under the structure.

If required there is also a possibility to construct concrete base together with concrete stairs and/or disable ramp. Other design ideas and requirements on the outside of the building can also be fulfilled with the use of concrete slabs if needed. 

A concrete base may seem slightly more difficult in terms of preparation when compared to other available ground base preparation methods. It is definitely more time-consuming. When prepared in the right manner though, a concrete base is a safe, long-term ground base solution. It allows you to design outside of the building as you may require and it may even turn out to be irreplaceable at times.

Even though a concrete base is a versatile and safe option it is of course not the only option and there are many who will want to fight against it. We will, therefore, be discussing other ground base preparation options in future articles.

Post-war Prefab Housing

Today we are going back in time once again to talk about history of prefabricated modular buildings. In one of our previous articles we spoke of one of the first records of this type of housing. It was created by Henry Maning and then transported to Australia where many more of those buildings were erected not long after.

Today we will discuss prefabs; prefabricated houses which were erected in great numbers here in United Kingdom after the Second World War.

After the start of the Second World War house building has stopped. Many of the houses where damaged or completely destroyed by bombings. This created housing crisis which after the end of the war needed to be resolved. Because housing was in great demand resolution needed to be quick and prefab houses could be quickly constructed to fulfill those demands. Soon after factories were no longer in need for military production, Emergency Factory Made Homes programme started. Factories would start working on producing required elements for prefab house construction in order to assemble as many houses as possible in the shortest possible time. As you can read on Prefab Museum website “There were four main types of temporary bungalows manufactured in great numbers in the UK after the war – the Arcon (steel frame), Uni-Seco, Tarran (both timber framed) and aluminium alloy AIROH B2 which was manufactured from recycled aircraft” (Prefab Museum, 2017).

Prefabricated houses were erected in many parts of United Kingdom as a temporary housing which was expected to last up to a decade. Many of those houses are still here today and people live in this type of housing around the country.

Regeneration programmes for residents of prefab housing estates are ongoing. In order to improve housing conditions many of the prefabs are being demolished and new houses are being built. An example of such housing could be Excalibur Estate in South London which is on its last phase of regeneration (L&Q, 2017).

There are many prefab lovers which regret demolition of this type of housing and who see prefabs as important part of our history and as museums full of memories.

Because of those people who believe in preserving prefabs, or at least in preserving memory of those houses, an online museum has been created. This online museum has been named Prefab Museum. To serve as an archive for prefab housing in United Kingdom this online museum started as a physical museum and later on has been moved online. Broad range of information about prefabricated housing and their locations, which you can find on their website, is notable. During visit to Prefab Museum website it quickly becomes clear that locations of prefab houses, still existing all over United Kingdom, is larger than one may expect.

Follow the link for Prefab Museum; http://www.prefabmuseum.uk/

Retaining memory of history of prefab buildings is significant as those buildings are an important part of our post-war history (Prefab Museum, 2017).

During post-war housing crisis prefab houses turned out to be the rescue. It is understandable that many of the people living in this type of accomodation feel nostalgy and regret when those houses are being demolished in the name of progress. While we are looking at the progress around us, we can still cherish remnants of our history. We can also remind our young generations to keep asking questions such as when?”, “how?” and “why?” we progressed to be the society that we are today.

Online Prefab Museum reminds us about it. Reminders are also existing structures of those buildings. Prefabricated houses have become a symbol of new beginings and of new hope for many people living during post-war times. For people living in those houses, it was the new start.

This history is something that is worth remembering.

Sources;

L&Q (2017), available at https://www.lqgroup.org.uk/about/media-centre/urban-regeneration/excalibur-estate/ (Accessed October 2017)

Prefab Museum (2017), available at http://www.prefabmuseum.uk/ (Accessed November 2017)

About History

This week we would like to talk about the history of modular buildings. As a commercial space, modular buildings may seem relatively recent pursuit, but as an accommodation, this type of buildings are here longer than you may realize. Prefabricated at one location and transported to another, this type of accommodation was used as a quick and cheap housing, depending on the needs at the time.

Today we will talk about the first record of such an accommodation which was started by London master carpenter Henry Manning. Advertisement for such cottages has appeared in 1837 in South Australian Record as Manning Portable Cottage. Manning prefabricated modular panels which could then be exported and put together in order to create an immediate house for people in colonial Australia. Through the 1840s and later, hundreds of Mannings’ buildings were erected in Australia. You can visit one of his buildings In Adelaide, Australia, which is there till now. All Manning buildings including the one in Aledaide were prefabricated in London. This particular building served as a meeting house and you can view pictures of it and find some more information about it at http://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/109 as well as at http://www.adelaideheritage.net.au/all-site-profiles/quaker-society-of-friends-meeting-house/ . Its construction made of timber and iron pillars shipped on board of ‘Rajasthan’ ship arrived at Port Adelaide in 1940, was built in June and currently is considered one of the oldest religious buildings in the city.

Featured photo within the article is one of K C Cabin Solutions portable buildings but if you would like to see photos of Manning Portable Cabin please follow links within the article. As you can see, history of portable buildings is rich and we will be continuing this subject in the future to give you some more exciting information on modular buildings.

Modular Building Specialists

Modular Construction: Smarter & Faster

One of the most beneficial building solutions to increase the construction time is modular construction. Not only does it create a safe and durable building experience that is also LEED certified, but is being widely used almost everywhere in this day and age. It provides fantastic quality control and is be used for many projects including commercial, industrial as well as residential.

Modular vs. Conventional

In constructional terms, modular buildings are undoubtedly stronger than conventional buildings as each and every module must undergo and pass the rigidities of transporting and craning onto the foundations. Upon putting together and sealing, all the modules become integrated as one body – roof assembly, wall and floor.

Also, construction quality management is far better in case of offsite building, considering the safety and security of materials. There is minimal damage or deterioration from the elements or from moisture. It also removes about 80% of construction activity from the site and this means that there is reduced site disruption, traffic, improved security and safety of people in the site as well as the neighbourhood. So in the case of schools, hospitals, or any other businesses that are active, there is a tremendous advantage for modular buildings, thanks to reduced on-site activity that eliminates plenty of hazards.

Benefits:

  • Flexibility and Re usability
  • Improved Quality of Air
  • Unlimited Design Opportunities

 

How Modular Construction Makes the Most of Constrained Spaces

The number and quality of campus facilities has become a competitive gain in the quest to improve the campus experience by increasing student enrolment, enticing the best and brightest faculty for teaching and research, and address overcrowded student housing. In recent years, more universities have made strategic decisions to allot additional resources to capital construction projects to build academic buildings, dorms and other student accommodations, labs, recreational facilities, child care centres and other campus structures.

But the question still remains on many campuses are one of space and where to put all these new students and buildings?

To address the need for new buildings, much of campus site planning comes down to the ability to build in constrained spaces, either adding on to an existing building or building an entirely new structure in an area already crowded with buildings and people.

Modular campus construction may offer the most economical and safe solution for building in tight, often urban spaces with an important added benefit: most institutions have aggressive timelines. According to the Modular Building Institute, modular are up to 50 per cent faster than conventional construction.

Here’s how a building constructed off site can make your campus space planning headaches go away.

 

1.       Easier access to tight spaces

2.       Less site congestion and disruption

3.       Safer construction in tight environments

 

In today’s economy of tight budgets and escalating construction costs, all types of educational institutions can use modular construction to plan around campus building site constraints, including:

  • Public schools
  • Charter schools
  • Primary education schools
  • Secondary education schools
  • Private schools
  • Trade schools
  • Technical schools
  • Day cares
  • Montessori schools

 

When to Use Modular Buildings: Three Things You Need to Know

  1. Flexibility

In an economic climate of constant change, organisations must make sure that all aspects of their business operations are flexible, this way they can adapt at a moment’s notice to take advantage of potential opportunities and stay competitive. Re-locatable real estate assets make your organisation even more agile. KC Cabins Solutions gives your organisation the capability to disassemble, relocate or refurbish the modules to meet personal requirements. You can contract and expand space quickly by adding or taking out modules. Modular construction also reduces disruption to your operations, surrounding buildings as well as the environment.

  1. Maximise Your Allocated Budget

KC Cabins Solutions offer incredible productivity and cost gains on your project. For example, modular construction bids typically include all of the mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and structural sealed plans as part of the package, which provides excellent savings to clients on their architectural costs. In addition, KC Cabins have established relationships with vendors and suppliers as well as the ability to purchase materials in larger quantities and at a competitive price. Off-site construction reduces labour and supervision costs as our skilled workers build modular buildings at a fixed price. You also avoid conflicts with scheduling trades and other delay issues.

  1.  Use Modular When you Value Better Construction Quality

Modules constructed off site must meet the same building codes and regulatory requirements, such as IRC or IBC, as other types of construction. However, KC Cabins techniques make the modules much stronger than conventional construction. Each module undertakes a strict engineering process to make sure that the section can withstand transportation to the site and when guided onto the foundations. Storage of the materials in a climate-controlled environment also keeps them safe from deterioration or damage from moisture, extreme temperatures and other elements. Skilled workers build the modules on tables, guaranteeing consistent precision in the work place. Builders assemble the modules on site with strict adherence to local, state and national building code requirements.