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“This building weighs a hundred thousand pounds.”

I admit that I was a sceptic when it came to prefabricated buildings.  At first glance, the marketing online was very bland.  Who would want one of these concrete buildings with no facade features other than a door and maybe a window or two?  I was working on a park project at the time that had a limited budget.  I quickly realized I needed to investigate prefabricated buildings further. 

I had always pictured park structures with stacked block walls and green metal roofs – my mental picture came from the various parks I played at in soccer tournaments growing up.  After some research, I realized that the cost of masonry block buildings was much higher than I had anticipated.  In order to have a contractor construct these, you either needed to engage with an architect to design a custom floor plan and construction details or have a design build company supply the templated plans and materials.

Essentially, park buildings typically require electric, potable water, and sanitary sewage at a minimum.  This means that in addition to an architect you need an MEP engineer (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing).  Prefab buildings are designed and constructed in mass quantities and require less input from designers since they are built to a template in a warehouse by a specialized team.  The structure is composed entirely of concrete, even the roof.  They are shipped completely constructed, sometimes in two pieces to the site.  This helps to avoid any markup from a contractor installing block in the field.  

The Bottom Line

  • Prefab buildings do not have to be bland.  Many companies have custom facades to look like stone, wood, and metal.  This is sometimes at no extra cost.
  • You should always plan to have the contractor locate and extend utilities to or directly below the structure.  Prefab companies typically do not bother with anything outside of the walls of their structure.
  • Ensure there is adequate pavement and movable space for placement!  These buildings can weigh well over 100,000 lbs.   A low-profile tractor-trailer carries the building to the site and a separate trailer mounted crane lifts the building into place.
  • Refer to the manufacturers specifications for how they want the building placed and on what material.  You should ask to see if they have a base material selected.  This can prevent unwanted building movement and protect utilities.