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Articles published by Modular Building Associates (MBA):

As seen in Christian School Products, April 2013 addition

“STOP DIGGING!” shouted the maintenance man as he returned from his two-week vacation to find a trencher digging a long ditch to install a ¼” water line for the new temporary modular building. He knew the temporary building was being installed, but the plan was to install ½” lines which they could use next year when they planned to expand the main building.

It was too late. The office manager decided to save $500 by using the smaller ¼” line because that was all they needed right now for the temporary building. But they could have saved $5,000 off the future expansion by using the ½” line.

The lesson here is - fail to plan and you plan to fail.

Growing organizations are faced with expansion of facilities because they are good at what they do. How do you expand without sacrificing the time and energy of the talented people who caused the growth in the first place? That is the million-dollar question. How do you balance planning and oversight with your organization’s necessary day to day operations?

Let’s face it. Skilled people who dedicate their time for a specific purpose are the reason why your organization needs more space. Does it make sense to redirect their attention away from their core responsibilities to step into the role of your modular project general contractor? I would say it does not.

The talent those people used to make them movers and shakers within your organization are not the same skill sets required for success in modular construction projects. When organizations need additional space, they should ask themselves five basic questions: who, what, when, where and why?

Who will be using the space? What is the intended use? What other uses and end users could use the space after this initial need is complete? When do you need occupancy and when will the need be complete? Where is the best location? Why is modular construction best for our organization?

Modular buildings are one of the quickest forms of modern construction allowing you to go from the blueprint stage to occupancy in as little as 3 months for a standard project. This is one of the key benefits to saying yes to using modular buildings for an expansion. The other key benefit is the ability to possibly relocate the modular building to meet future needs. Very few forms of construction allow you to relocate the entire facility at a reasonable cost and minimum time as do modular buildings.

Let’s face it - any construction project requires time and money. The hard costs associated with site development prohibit anything less than professional planning. When a mistake is made in areas such as driveway construction, parking lot design, water line installation, sanitary sewer lines, site drainage, landscaping, etc., it can cost your organization a lot of wasted time and money.

Proper modular project development requires overall project planning which involves evaluating your future needs. A qualified modular general contractor has the required knowledge and experience to properly and accurately evaluate construction costs related to various site development issues and designs. The bottom line – a qualified modular general contractor will save you time, energy and money.

This article was written by Jeff Austin of Modular Building Associates.
For more information visit www.modularbuildingassociates.com or call (866) 266-4622 (4MBA).
 

As seen in 
November 2003: Volume 7, Issue 12

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 www.modularbuildingassociates.com. 
 

As seen in 
September 2005: Volume 14, Issue 5 - Back to School: Modular Space Solution

Nothing Beats a Really Good Modular Building Design 
By: Jeff Austin - Friday, September 30, 2005 
Source: Modular Building Associates 

For schools, nothing beats a really good modular building design.  You, your staff and your students are directly impacted by the functional nature of your modular building.  The performance of every occupant is either enhanced or hindered by the building design and its specifications.  You want to provide your staff and students with an environment that enhances the learning process and helps you retain good staff members.  You want your staff to see you as innovative leader representing a forward-thinking organization.  A properly-designed modular building can help you achieve these goals by taking into account the following key components of modular design: 

Interior Design
Effective interior planning is essential in establishing a functional environment.  People drive the day-to-day operations of every organization.  Individual workspace design is fundamental to the overall success of any building layout.  The primary stepping stone to designing a good building layout is to understand the needs of the building’s occupants. 

Exterior Design
Balancing your building profile with the site conditions is the defining step in achieving an attractive overall project appearance.  To develop a facility that is both functionally useful and aesthetically attractive requires detailed planning.  You can create a building with the same architectural features as your main facility except with the ability to expand the modular building as your needs dictate.  The decisions you make regarding installation determine:  1) if the building can be expanded 2) if the building will look like a temporary trailer or 3) if the building will look like a planned addition.  The exterior design component is vital to the overall success of your modular building project. 

Flexible Design
A key aspect of designing a modular building is flexibility.  You should plan on fluctuations in your staff size over time.  The simple ability to increase or decrease in size is the most under-utilized and one of the most beneficial features of a modular building.  Every organization has growth projections.  Modular buildings allow you to adjust your space to suit your needs.  Assume you have a current need for 5,000 square-feet and project that you will need an additional 1,500 square-feet each year for the next five years – properly designed modular buildings provide the flexibility to meet this type of need with a minimum of downtime and cost.

For example, a client had a 1,300 square-foot modular building and needed to double their square footage immediately.  This possibility was planned for prior to the original installation of the building. Two interior floors were delivered to the site on a Friday afternoon as the staff was leaving for the weekend.  The modular crew worked over the weekend and, by Monday morning, the building was a 2,600 square-foot facility.  Mission accomplished. 

Ability to Relocate
Modular buildings are designed to be relocated.   The ability to relocate a modular building is the basis for the entire industry.  A properly designed modular building’s floor, roof and walls are engineered and constructed to withstand the rigors of transportation, affording the opportunity to move the building to a new site without damage to the structure.  This ability gives the client the flexibility to move the structure as needs or conditions dictate.

Modular Construction Specialist
Although the basic materials used in modular construction are almost identical to site-construction, the difference lies in the techniques used to produce and install a modular building.  Understanding these principles of modular construction takes years of industry experience and knowledge.  A modular construction specialist provides the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to help you achieve the goal of a properly-designed modular building that will be an asset to you and your school for years to come. 

This article was written by Jeff Austin of Modular Building Associates located in Coppell, Texas.
 
 

As seen in 
April 3, 2006

Modular Buildings -- Temporary or Permanent? 
By: Jeff Austin, Modular Building Associates - Monday, April 3, 2006 
Source: SchoolFacilities.com 

Studies have shown that the aesthetic design of your school campus has a powerful effect on the productivity of your staff and students. Working and learning within an attractive and functional environment promotes excellence in all areas. Modular buildings added to your school should both enhance and maintain the productivity of your campus. 

Taking into consideration colors, textures, shapes and scale as part of your modular building design will stimulate the staff and the student body. Creating an environment which will encourage positive reactions from your staff and students first requires the breaking of trailer stereotypes. This begins in the initial design phase through the use of imagination, creativity and defining the unique needs of your campus. 

Modular buildings have become a staple of many school campuses. The benefits of modular buildings include fast delivery times and affordability, but if not properly designed and installed, they can lend themselves to a "trailer-park" appearance. How can you take advantage of the fast and affordable benefits of modular buildings without experiencing the negative aspects of a school trailer park? It all starts with design and initial planning. You should plan for a long-term space solution using a short-term modular building addition. With this approach, your school can enjoy the increased aesthetic appeal of an attractive modular building (over the short-term) and, if the need for additional space continues (and it always does), you will avoid the negative aspect of having a long-term eyesore on your campus.

Following are some general suggestions for creating a more inviting modular campus (both in short and long-term): 

Include attractive and lush landscaping around the building. 

Create an impressive entrance by using auxiliary structures such as porticos or porches. 

Draw visitors’ eyes away from the square lines of the typical modular building through the addition of interesting supplementary features. 

Use unexpected exterior materials such as stone, brick and wood to transform the appearance of the building.

Each modular building project is different and presents its own unique set of variables and solutions. When considering the addition of a modular building to your campus, it is imperative to utilize the services of a professional modular building designer who will ensure that both your school’s short and long-term space needs are met. 

This article was written by Jeff Austin of Modular Building Associates located in Coppell, Texas. For more information, please call 866-266-4622 (4MBA) or visit their web sites at www.modularbuildingassociates.com, for information about new modular construction visit www.modulardesignservices.com or for information about used buildings for sale or lease visit www.modularresale.com.
 

As seen in April 2005 Issue, page 33

Modular Building or Temporary Trailer?
Grandma always told me that the proof was in the pudding, and the same is true with modular buildings.  Can you take a nice commercial modular building and install it in a way that makes it look like a temporary trailer?  Yes.  And yes, you can install a trailer in a professional manner and it will take on the appearance of a commercial building. 

Integration of the modular building into the property is essential in determining if the structure will look like a modular building or a temporary trailer.  The Installation Criteria allows you the opportunity to seamlessly blend the modular building into your site.  Without this planning step, you are almost guaranteed to have a temporary trailer regardless of your building specifications.  The Installation Criteria will determine whether or not your modular building will look like a planned addition or resemble a temporary trailer. 

What works for you might not work for me. What are you trying to achieve by using the modular building?  Are you looking for temporary relief to overcrowding?  Are you trying to maximize your cost-per-square-foot?  Do you need quick occupancy or will you need to relocate your facility five years down the road?  You must ask yourself these questions to determine your Project Objectives.  These Project Objectives should influence every decision made about the building and budget.

Oh no, I said the b-u-d-g-e-t word.  You are not alone.  Some people have a hard time compiling a project budget.  Budgets are a planning tool, but they also make you face the unknown and that is what people really have a problem with.  Facing the unknown aspects of a construction project is an overwhelming task for the faint of heart.  Modular buildings are an answer to your prayers, if you take the time to do some financial planning.  How much money should I dedicate to site development?  How much should I spend on the modular building?  The answer to those questions hinge around your Project Objectives. 

What is 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.  What is the resale potential for a modular building?  State-approved modular buildings can have a strong secondary-use market if they are designed properly.  Again, what are your Project Objectives?  Supply and demand dictate the price of any item sold in the open market.  If ten customers need office space in a specific area, the price will reflect the client who wants it the most.  Since modular buildings can be moved, they need to be designed to increase their demand and functional use.  This will open the market up to more potential customers and thus increase the resale market price for the modular building.  The key is professional design. 

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 www.modularbuildingassociates.com. 

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