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WHY MODULAR BATHROOMS VS SITE BUILD?
We truly believe in the limitless capabilities of modular construction and the inherent value that it delivers to our clients beyond cost and time efficiencies.
Reduced site resources:
Removes 8 trades from confined spaces: Modular bathrooms assist in taking up to 8 trades off the site for the bathroom construction works, ensuring stricter quality control within the factory environment. Less traffic onsite means greater efficiency, less management resource and reduced risk of damage and theft to onsite materials.
Project Management Time:
Waste Reduction, Deliveries:
Bathrooms are complex and made up of many parts and materials. With traditional bathrooms, all materials need to be procured separately, delivered to site and then craned onto correct floors and distributed to rooms and stored ready for construction. These individual items then contribute to a significant amount of waste that must be taken back to ground floor and removed from site. With a Modular Bathroom there is 1 x plastic wrap and 2 x or more steel or timber gluts that need to be removed from site significantly reducing the volume of waste and cost of waste removal. Construction mess is a real challenge for builders onsite and the feedback from builders that have used bathroom pods is that it keeps their sites as clean as a whistle in comparison to the waste that piles up in the rooms.
Up to 80% of project defects occur in the bathrooms when they are traditionally built onsite. This occurs for several reasons including the lack of supervision, the confined spaces that multiple trades are working in concurrently, poor lighting and skill gaps with tradespersons. The difference with a modular bathroom is that it is constructed in a factory environment which allows for much higher consistency and repeatability without the challenges that tradespeople are faced with onsite. Each pod can be lit up and worked on within specialised cells and then able to go through a thorough defect and Q&A checking process within the factory prior to being signed off for dispatch to site. The joint walkthrough between the Site Manager and bathroom pod project manager then allows for any movement that may have occurred in transport to be rectified.
Program savings with bathroom pods vary from project to project and are subject to the building design, stakeholder involvement and design compatibility and various other factors in the critical path.
Read detailed notes on Program Savings under DELIVERING > HOW MUCH TIME OFF THE BUILD PROGRAM DO PODS SAVE?
Quality & Reputation:
Construction companies who utilise bathrooms pods in their build methodology vote quality as being the no.1 driver for using pods; and the impact this has their reputation with clients, buyers and the market is substantial. The precision finish and detailing achieved in a factory environment is very challenging to replicate consistently onsite.
HOW DO I COMPARE THE COST OF MODULAR BATHROOMS VS SITE BUILD?
It is rare for pod bathrooms to appear cheaper “on paper” in comparison to traditionally built bathrooms; especially for builders who haven’t engaged bathroom pods before and have not experienced the “end of project” savings that come with every pod project.
General feedback from Interpod clients is that bathroom pods will normally be on par with traditional build costs or slightly above. Bathroom pods become more cost effective, once the program, defect rectification, waste, supervision, and co-ordination savings are accounted for. It is the inability for estimators to put tangible numbers on these savings that creates a perceived cost imbalance and inhibits acceptance of bathroom pods for the first time.
Once a builder has used pods in project, they prove these savings and then become a repeat user of pods because they are able to accurately factor in these savings. Initially, a builder must be prepared to conduct a “test” project with modular bathrooms that may not necessarily stack up on paper.
Engaging modular construction practices will give builders and developers the confidence and assurance that embracing this innovation benefits their projects, their business and their reputation. The testament to this fact is that many Tier 1 and Tier 2 construction companies are continually using bathroom pods on their projects and the direction from their management teams is that bathroom pods should be the preferred preference to traditionally building onsite.
DO PODS COST MORE THAN TRADITIONAL SITE BUILDS?
Typically pods cost around the same or slightly more expensive (on paper/an estimate) than a site-built bathroom.
The main reasons for this are;
- A structural base frame needs to be included to support the floor membrane and floor finishes. This support would be provided by the slab on site, so isn’t included in the costings of a traditionally built bathroom.
- Transport needs to be allowed for – generally this ends up relatively cost effective as multiple pods can be delivered on 1 truck, but does add cost.
- Wall and ceiling structure is heavily engineered to cope with the demands of transport.
- Other than the above, materials in pods generally are the same as any other bathroom built so costs are therefore similar.
The efficiencies and reduced risks that bathroom pods bring are massive – and therefore the small additional up-front investment is more than offset by these savings to programme, site prelims, and ongoing compliance issues.
Since Interpod bathroom pods are delivered as cleaned, fully completed units, and can remain locked until project handover; the following costs are often saved:
- Rubbish removal from site, including expensive tile sludge dumping fees
- Cleaning fees
- Replacement of fixtures from theft and damage
- Administration of invoices and incoming goods – 1 bathroom partner, 1 invoice, 1 contact
- Reduced crane time, as individual materials don’t need to be transported from floor to floor
- Project management and quality checks on wet area workmanship compliance
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HOW DO I FACTOR MODULAR BATHROOM DESIGNS INTO THE PROJECT PLANS?
The transition from conventionally built bathrooms to modular pods is a simple one.
The most significant factor to note is that bathroom pod designs need to be locked in earlier than if building conventionally. Bathroom pod designs are usually finalised in conjunction with signing off structure details.
The hidden benefit to this, is pricing can be locked in, and bathrooms can be manufactured ahead of schedule, stored, and delivered as required onsite.
A seamless bathroom pod integration is therefore most successful when all stakeholders are on board prior to pod design commencing. Stakeholders include architects, service trades and consultants. Full stakeholder collaboration results in compliant designs that best meet the project needs as efficiently as possible. This ensures a simple integration both when the finished product arrives on site, and throughout the ongoing service life of the bathroom.
It is also helpful when service trades are aware that bathroom pods will be used, to ensure their upfront pricing reflects this. Interpod have tools available to help trades price accurately for connection to pods, and regularly liaise with subcontractors quoting on projects to answer project-specific queries before tender prices are submitted, ensuring minimised gaps in scope which a builder or developer may otherwise be concerned with.
IS THERE A STEP UP INTO THE PODS AND CAN WE GET A FLUSH TRANSITION?
Step up or flush transition into a bathroom pod is based on a few factors. As with any bathroom, constraints exist in achieving desired transition heights at the entry threshold into the bathroom. These constraints include:
- Minimum thickness of tile bed.
- Tile adhesive and waterproofing membrane.
- Additional height created through the gradient to the waste outlet.
- Thickness of selected floor coverings.
Builders often sacrifice tile bed thickness and fall gradients in bathrooms – both causing compliance issues and short-medium term performance issues – just to achieve a flush transition. In this case, the lack of floor fall (non-compliant) is often not noticed until the tenant begins using the bathroom and the water pools instead of draining away.
By providing a slab recess for the bathroom pod to be installed into, a flush transition is often achievable. There are a myriad of factors influencing this including the depth of the slab recess, the selection of floor coverings both inside and outside the bathroom, and the location of the floor waste.
Interpod have developed smart solutions to provide tapered thresholds, which serve to ensure a flush transition where desired, or to minimise the step into the bathroom where this is acceptable.
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HOW MUCH TIME OFF THE BUILD PROGRAM DO PODS SAVE?
This is a topic that is continually debated by construction companies as to whether there are time savings using Pods and whether they are on critical path or not. The facts that we must go off is the feedback from constructions companies that have used pods and the program savings that they have experienced.
We have varied feedback from clients ranging from zero-time savings to 90 days program savings. When 90 days X $20,000 per day mobilisation is factored in this could amount to $1.8M in project savings, which is a considerable saving to overall company net profit.
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HOW DO I CONNECT MODULAR BATHROOMS ONSITE?
Integration is simple. Interpod bathroom pods are designed to take the least amount of connection time onsite as possible. An Interpod bathroom pod can be connected onsite in under 2 hours, including crane time. Compared to traditionally built bathrooms, the integration of bathroom pods is very seamless.
The external face of the stud wall of the pods is designed for external linings to be screwed into directly, and the door jamb design also accommodates this.
Services are connected to a pre-agreed, easy to access location, with delineations between the pod and site elements very clear using standard connection fittings.
Pods do not form part of the fire rating system, and therefore allowance must be made for this, as pods may introduce an additional wall frame in some circumstances.
A simple plug-and-play connection process takes place once the pod has been unwrapped and positioned. Interpod site teams and project managers coordinate with building and service trades to provide all necessary pod installation training for a seamless experience onsite.