Once a regular sight in school buildings and construction sites, prefabricated buildings conjure up thoughts of old, grey portakabins, sometimes stacked several high. Today though, prefabricated solutions are a different ball game, offering a flexible, cost-effective and sustainable solution to create more space with minimum disruption to a location.
When considering a refit or refurbishment project, it’s not just the design, look and feel of the transformation that’s important. Factors such as accessibility, distance from key suppliers, waste management and disruption to customers if it is to remain a live site all need to be considered, as well as affordability against budget. This is where prefabrication can quickly become the preferred option as the offsite construction methods combined with elements such as ‘just in time’ delivery and minimal waste means the speed at which a space can be transformed is unrivalled.
In fact, in a first for a leading UK retailer, working with commercial transformation specialist Sigma, a prefabricated approach has allowed them to extend one of their retail premises with great success, creating extra space and the wow factor for their customers with less than two-weeks on-site building required.
With a very specific brief to transform key areas of their store and refresh some of the existing facilities such as the customer toilets, as well as needing additional space for must-have features including a customer service desk, food to go section and a new click and collect point, this leading retailer was very focused on creating a new space that would feel a very natural enhancement of the existing environment. However, this all needed to be undertaken with minimal disruption, at low cost and as quickly as possible, which ruled out a traditional build and fit-out extension. The site itself also posed a challenge as it was in a particularly remote location in northern Scotland, meaning additional costs could easily be racked up through the need to transport labour and heavy equipment to one of the most northern parts of the UK.
A prefabricated solution was the obvious answer. As well as being sustainable and cost effective, a modular ‘bolt on’ allowed a more flexible solution in the design of the extension whilst offering consistency in the build. Approximately 80% of the work was completed offsite at the manufacturer’s main site including first and second fix M&E work, plumbing and preparation for decoration before the build needed to go anywhere near its final destination.
Groundworks were progressed on site in an area segregated by hoarding to ensure that building work wouldn’t interfere with the brand’s shopping experience. Here, foundations and drainage were prepared ready for installation of the new buildings.
Once delivered, the modular build team took just five days to complete the installation of the units which was followed by only seven days of fit-out work by the Sigma team to get the buildings functional and ready for use. A simple opening with new bulkhead was installed to connect the existing store to the new modular buildings, creating a seamless extension with significantly more space.
The offsite and predominantly overnight-working nature of the installation meant that for many of the retailer’s customers, the extension seemed to appear overnight creating a real wow factor within the store. For the client, they were able to generate additional footprint at a significantly lower cost point than with a traditional built extension.
With the continued popularity of prefabricated construction, it is likely that it will only continue to grow in its diversity of applications. Building owners who choose this method as part of their property transformation programme are able to enjoy a high quality, quicker, cost-effective, and eco-friendly construction method. Prefabricated construction is proving to be an extremely viable option, and as manufacturing technology continues to improve, expect to see its benefits and advantages rise in the future.
With over 20 years’ experience of transforming commercial space, Sigma provide a true end-to-end service; from fixtures and consolidation, to construction, projects and M&E. www.sigmagrp.co.uk