What is a Commercial Modular Building?

Definition of a commercial modular building:
A standing structure or enclosure composed of multiple prefabricated sections, or modules, which are combined together in a systematical format allowing relative ease of assembly, quick installation and the ability to move the structure as a whole, in units or in its original unassembled sections for later reassembly and reuse.

On-frame or off-frame modular buildings:
Commercial modular buildings are typically built off-frame, in which the structure is secured onto a concrete surface (or similar solid surface). This may include an elevated concrete slab or a flush foundation. These types of modular buildings are assembled on location after the prefabricated modules are shipped by flat-bed (or other means) to the site. An off-frame modular building tends to look like a permanent structure. In some applications most people can not tell whether it is permanent or temporary.

An on-frame modular building is usually built onto a steel platform or frame of sorts. This may include a stationary mezzanine, a trailer, or a forklift-able (or crane-lift-able) platform. These types of modular buildings are typically assembled in-house at the manufacturing plant and delivered on its base structure. Although in some cases, depending on the dimensions, the building must be assembled on-site then fork-lifted or crane-lifted into its desired location and position.

Typical Types of Uses:
Commercial modular buildings come in handy for temporary solutions wherein one might need a structure that will be moved or taken down relatively soon. For structures that must be moved regularly, transportable bases provide the best solution (for example, trailers or forklift-able platforms).

Companies which expect future expansion also find modular buildings as a convenient solution to foreseen or unforeseen growth. Such companies may decide to expand the size of the building, move it to a different location or simply leave as many options open as possible.

Modular buildings are also a viable solution for permanent projects. The options left open by a modular building may allow peace of mind for a company that truly expects the unexpected. The savings in time, money and environmental waste are also an attractive incentive to a company seeking a permanent structure.

Sizes and Configurations:
A commercial modular building can be built in just about any size. The preliminary measurements are usually based on interior or exterior dimensions (depending on the manufacturer). They can range from a small 4’ wide, 4’ deep, and 8’ high guardhouse to a 100’ wide, 50’ deep, and 20’ high two-story office complex.

Configurations are also an endless array of options with multiple rooms, hallways, 45 degree angles, multiple levels, various heights and much more. Configurations are usually governed by the clients’ specific needs and desires.

The difference between commercial modular buildings and residential modular homes:
Though it is true that commercial modular buildings and residential modular homes share many similar traits and building methods, the two are not one in the same. Residential modular homes, which are in fact closer yet significantly different from their cousins—mobile homes, are regulated and inspected according to residential home standards. The building codes usually differ fairly well from commercial building codes.

Commercial buildings follow codes that are based around occupancy levels that tend to be higher in number and density then residential applications of similar size. For example, a 5000 sq. ft. single-family home would usually occupy and house 5-8 persons (this includes parents, children and sizable pets). A commercial building of equal size however, might occupy 25-30 persons for at least 12 hours of the day. The occupancy, flow of traffic, lighting standards, electricity, emergency exits and so much more must all be considered a little more diligently in a commercial setting compared to a residential home. Thus, many things about a commercial modular building’s structure and layout differ greatly from a residential modular home.