There are many kinds prefab building materials that suit different construction goals. Developers can use prefab for the same range of buildings as traditional construction. Yet, things like cost, build time, and transport fees vary depending on what material you choose.
I want to build a strong, high-quality structure quickly.
Manufacturers make steel container structures almost entirely in-factory. This process can include interior furnishing as well. Therefore, there is virtually no onsite labor besides assembly crews, which reduces the possibility of defects and errors. Out of the different prefab building materials, steel containers are an excellent choice for large structures that would otherwise take years to execute. Take a look at how developers built this 10-storey hotel in less than a month.
Prefab steel containers’ thermal insulation is six times greater than a traditionally-built structure’s. They are also significantly more sound-proof.
But: Steel containers have less precedent as construction materials compared to timber or light steel gauge. Their material and transportation costs can also get expensive, potentially mitigating money saved on labor.
I want sustainability and affordability with a tried and proven prefab building material.
Light steel gauge construction is the prefab building material most like traditional wood construction. While steel frames function much like timber frames, they take a few weeks to assemble because manufacturers size and cut the parts in a factory. And while conventional construction is one of the largest sources of waste, prefab steel creates almost none.
Zinc coatings prevent corrosion, and you don’t have to worry about termites or mold. Light steel gauge costs about the same as timber, but developers can save 70% on labor costs.
But: Heat transfers through metal studs, so light steel gauge can reduce a building’s R-value. This might require more insulated sheathing than with a wood-frame house.
I want a building ready in a matter of days.
Flat pack containers have long been used for temporary and emergency housing. They come with assembled steel frames, corner posts, and interchangeable wall panels. Developers can save 75% on shipping costs compared to other prefab building materials, and projects can be completed in around a week.
Furthermore, they’re easy to take down and relocate. However, the 15+ year manufacturer’s warranty often attached to flat packs makes them a popular choice for more permanent structures as well, like pop-up shops and small schools.
But, developers would run into some structural limitations attempting to build larger, permanent building with this product.