7 key steps when buying a modular building
Following these 7 key steps when buying a modular or portable building will assist you in finding the right supplier for your project.
Step 1. What size of building do I need?
Size does matter. Ensure that you have the correct floor space to meet with your current and future needs. Occupying too much or too little space can be expensive.
Look to create a building layout plan that addresses your specific requirements. Establish exactly what your requirements are and explore every area of your business including;
- How many staff will be located in the new building?
- What space is needed for each member of staff?
- How can you maximise communication between departments?
- What proportion of open-plan space is appropriate versus cellular space?
- How much storage space is needed?
- Do you require space for future growth?
Sketch out a basic floor plan - a simple hand sketch will work. It is worth contacting an architect or someone who can create a space plan and is suitably qualified. This will help you to know what size of building is needed. During this process keep in mind where you plan to locate the new building, depending on the overall size you may need more than a single storey ground floor.
Think about furniture and storage, and if you are not taking existing desks and chairs decide what size, shape and style of furniture you would like.
Look to have an office layout plan that works for your business.
Step 2. Get some budget costs
When you know what size of building you require and where it will be located you can obtain some budget costs from suitable suppliers.
At this stage most people will go on the internet and pick out a few companies that are found from a general search of modular building suppliers.
This is a good starting point when buying a modular building, however, like cars, modular building systems come in a variety of specifications and the price will reflect this. Costs can vary by up to 40%, depending on which supplier you contact. All modular building suppliers will provide a product that gives value - the difficulty is understanding which one meets with your specific requirements.
The cheapest is not always the best value. Obtain referrals and if possible ask suppliers to show you a similar building - preferably one that is at least 3 to 4 years old in order to see how it looks following a few years of use.
Talk to the end users of these buildings to get their option and also the service that has been provided by the modular supplier.
Step 3. Choosing a modular building manufacturer for your project
You will need to check the specification in detail to fully understand what is being proposed. The structural elements of a modular building and how it is manufactured plays a key role in assessing the whole of life cost and ultimately value for money. This specification will form a key part of the contract documentation as it is used to check that the completed building has been supplied as agreed..
Do a credit check on your preferred modular supplier. You don't want to be paying a large deposit to a company that does not have a good financial track record.
Step 4. Planning and Building Control approval
When you have chosen the modular manufacturer for your project you need to look at obtaining Planning and Building Control approval.
Planning approval is required for any building that will be on a particular location for more than 28 days. It is important that you have planning approval prior to placing your order with the modular building manufacturer. If planning was refused for any reason you do not want to pay for a building that you cannot use.
Building control approval is also needed to confirm that the modular system being installed complies with the building regulations which are a set of standards for design and construction that apply to most new buildings. The building control application normally is made at the same time as planning.
Both planning and building control can take around 8 weeks to get approval depending on the local authority and the complexity of the project.
These applications can be made for you by an architect or company who provides this service. Some modular building manufacturers will make the applications on your behalf as part of their service.
Step 5. Site preparation
When you have placed your order and are ready to start, the first thing is the site preparation. This will involve constructing suitable foundations, entrance steps/ramps and service connections (water, power and drainage) to the building.
You can choose to use your own ground work contractor to carry out this work or alternately the modular building supplier may offer this service.
Health & safety
As the client you must ensure that:
- there is adequate protection for the client’s workers and/or members of the public;
- there are adequate welfare facilities provided by the contractor;
- there is good co-operation and communication between designers and contractors;
- the arrangements made with the Modular contractor have been implemented.
For larger projects there are additional health and safety requirements and responsibilities. You should seek independent advice before your project begins on site.
Stage 6. Project delivery
If you choose your own ground works contractor, you will need to co-ordinate the works. A programme highlighting the start and completion dates of the key work stages will help with the planning and project progress. For smaller projects this should not cause any issues. For larger projects you may wish to employ a project manager who can look after your interests and free up your time.
Stage 7. Completion and handover
Use the proposal document and agreed specification details to make sure the building is as exactly as you specified before accepting it as complete.
List any items that you are not happy with and need to be rectified. It is normal to have a few snagging items. Ensure that as well as each item being noted, there is a completion date for each of them.
Finally, you will receive and operations and maintenance manual (O&M) on completion. This will detail everything from cleaning to electrical specifications and test certificates.