Philadelphia is one of many cities in the United States that does not have enough housing for its residents, with approximately 70,000 more affordable housing units needed. The problem is compounded by the construction industry’s struggle to meet demand due to supply chain and labor issues.
To help speed up the construction process, construction teams are exploring alternative construction methods, including pre-engineered construction in which key building components are constructed offsite at a manufacturing facility and then assembled onsite. Unlike a traditional construction, in which the foundation should be ready before starting work on each floor one by one, with a precast method, the parts of the unit are assembled in the factory at the same time that the foundation is being built. . Doing various construction processes simultaneously means housing can be built faster for people to occupy.
To help alleviate the housing shortage in the Philadelphia area, Durapods, a division of PDM Constructors, has been involved in mixed-use developments using pre-engineered materials, said Tony Gardner, director of sales and marketing for the company. contracting.
He said the company creates key elements of the housing units in “module” form, including prefabricated bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, offsite at its manufacturing plant. Meanwhile, the on-site construction crew is working on the foundations and erecting the building. Once the floors are ready, the modules are delivered to the site where they are placed in their final location.
“The start of the project is heavy on the design,” Gardner said. “When designing bathroom modules, for example, construction sites will typically have 20 different types of bathrooms, so we take those and redesign them into several different types that would work for the project. This is part of the design process for fabrication and assembly, which makes construction more efficient on both the fabrication side and the project side. »
Once the design is complete, he said, the company creates a mock-up for their rooms and works with local authorities to review project details and ensure everything is up to code. During production, architects and inspectors can review the work to make sure everything stays on track.
“Once the Durapod bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry rooms are complete, they are packed up and shipped to the project site, then hoisted onto its space in the building,” Gardner said. “The completed modules are all made to spec, which includes paint, tile, sink, faucet, shower and other aspects. You can see how all the pieces and pieces have been put together with regards to mechanics, electricity and plumbing. »
PDM Constructors relies on its skilled workforce to meet project schedules, with 500 employees in the field and between 100 and 120 in the factories to help build the modules. The company, which is also a union shop, worked with the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Carpenters Council to recruit workers from the Carpenters’ Apprentice Ready program, which offers classes to prepare Philadelphia residents for the apprenticeship in carpentry.
“Most of the people at the plant are part of the CARP program,” he said. “They learn there and then they can be taken to the field.”
He said having a trained workforce helps keep a job site safe.
“By going through the training process, we know the people in the CARP program are qualified,” Gardner said. “Learning the ropes in the factory and then heading out into the field means workers are much more efficient, productive and safety conscious.”
Gardner predicted that soon more mixed-use and multi-family construction companies will also be looking to adopt pre-engineered construction methods. He said in Philadelphia at least they will meet a skilled workforce to help make this possible.
“Quality and safety trump everything, and speed to market is an added bonus,” Gardner said. “For our projects in particular, the effectiveness and achievement of all of our goals really could not have happened without the help of people from the CARP program.”
This article has been produced in collaboration between Carpenter Contractor Trust and Studio B. Bisnow press staff were not involved in the production of this content.
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