May 1, 2018 – The recent increase in modular construction has brought with it a bigger risk of mold and moisture problems, especially in the warm and humid Southeast.
The greatest risk of modular construction failures has been seen in facilities that are domicidal or multi-family in nature, such as hotels, student housing, senior living, and soldier housing. In these types of buildings, both wood-frame and steel-frame modular construction units have experienced moisture accumulation and condensation problems in crawl spaces, within marriage walls, and within ceiling-to-floor cavities. This has resulted in both deterioration of the wood, corrosion of metal floor pans, and damaged wallboard and mold issues.
Design by silo (with construction that follows suit) causes a building to work against itself, resulting in failures. Experts at Liberty Building Forensics Group have learned firsthand that issues occurring during the hotel design phase are the main culprits in building failure, including modular construction. They will be conducting a free webinar on this topic on Thursday, May 3 from 1:15pm – 2:15pm. It is AIA-CES registered for 1 LU-HSW. Register here: https://lx375-37a934.pages.infusionsoft.net/.
Modular construction inherently contains hidden interior spaces that make it difficult to control infiltration of outdoor air. Additionally, each modular box as it comes from the manufacturer is designed and constructed in a vacuum of the requirements for the overall performance of the building.
“The nature of modular construction makes it difficult to repair once water or mold damage is found,” said LBFG President George DuBose. “Sometimes the damage can be such that the modular building has to be deconstructed to remove deteriorated materials, and then re-designed and re-constructed using conventional methods. This essentially causes the advantages of modular construction to dissolve away as the building gets converted to a traditional ‘stick’ wood-frame building or a traditional steel structure building.”
Conducting an outside peer review can help tremendously in identifying how the modular box HVAC design will work with the base building HVAC design to achieve correct building pressurization. This is especially important when the set of base building designers and contractors is different than the team building the modular units themselves.