Modular Builds: Overcoming the Challenges of Occupied Sites

The rise in modular construction can be seen across sectors ranging from healthcare and education through to commercial. From providing additional space through to creating extensive new facilities, modular buildings are being designed for a variety of purposes with many adding to existing properties on a site.

When construction takes place in a live environment and with speed often a priority, a groundworks contractor must address the challenges of occupied sites to ensure the programme remains on track. Here we explain how:

Planning

‍Planning the groundworks for modular buildings on operational sites should ideally begin before a contract has been awarded. During the tender stage, we consider what measures may be required to deliver the groundworks efficiently as possible based on the potential constraints of the site. This forms the basis of a comprehensive logistics plan comprising suggestions as to how we will set the site up and manage it accordingly. 

The scope of these plans can vary significantly depending on the type of project and its location; they could involve anything from the design of a pedestrian management system with signage, through to the creation of new access roads to safely divert delivery vehicles and site traffic away from the live areas.

Design

There are many different foundation options which will depend on numerous site variables.  

If a large modular building is to be constructed on a site where noise is a concern, this could affect the design of the foundations.  For example, driven pre-cast concrete piling can be cost effective but may not be appropriate if there are lots of people working or living nearby. Alternatives such as continuous flight auger (CFA) piling may be more suitable - this cast in-situ method can help to minimise noise and vibration while ensuring the work is carried out quickly. Piling is just one of the many foundation options - each one is specific to the project in question.

Sequencing

Sequencing is crucial when working in a live site to avoid any potential disruption and ensure health and safety is prioritised. This will often require deliveries and plant movements to be carefully timed. Some aspects of the work may also need to be carried out outside normal working hours, including at weekends or timed with shutdowns, for example, during school holidays or designated factory maintenance periods.

Communication

Communication is key at all stages of a groundworks project both with the building users and the modular contractor.  Having a dedicated point of contact at the site, whether that is a school or hospital, is useful as this can make the communication process more efficient.

A successful outcome.

Working in an occupied site can be challenging, but regardless of the potential difficulties these types of projects pose, there is always a solution. With the right planning, communication and expertise, the groundworks for modular builds can be delivered highly effectively in live environments meeting the needs of all parties.

For further information on groundworks for modular builds in occupied sites, please contact enquiries@shanco.co.uk.

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