In colloquial language, when talking about modular construction, terms container and module are often used interchangeably. And in fact, they are in some ways substitutes, but although both types of buildings are a form of prefabricated buildings, there are clear differences between them in terms of construction, cost and design possibilities.
Container houses and modular houses - do they have anything in common?
To better understand the dividing differences containers and modules, it's good to know the similarities between them first. The most important feature that unites construction container and modular is the functionality of their construction, i.e. the ability to build "like from blocks". Both solutions consist of unified "blocks", i.e. modules with specific, unified dimensions, which allows for easy creation of objects of various sizes.
In addition, both container houses and modular houses are highly energy efficient. The containers are made of steel, which is a very durable and insulating material. Modular homes are also designed to use as little energy as possible and are equipped with features such as double-glazed windows and solid insulation to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
What is the difference between a container and a module?
Despite many common features houses containerized and modular, they are not equivalent systems. There are several key differences between them that significantly affect their final form and functionality. Both container houses and modular houses offer unique advantages that make them attractive to people looking for an alternative to traditional construction, but it's worth checking how they really differ.
Both containers and modules are a type of prefabricated construction, i.e. their production process takes place outside the construction site. They arrive at the final installation site equipped with doors, windows, as well as electrical, water and sewage and heating installations. Each of their elements is made in safe factory conditions by a team of experienced professionals.
Container houses are made in a simpler construction - their walls consist of three layers: sheet metal, insulation and laminated board from the inside. They are strong and durable, resistant to harsh weather conditions. On the other hand, modular houses are additionally finished from the outside with a facade board (or other material chosen by the investor), and their insulation layer is much thicker. Importantly, the modules offered by reputable manufacturers provide a heat transfer coefficient of U=0,2 W/(m²*K).
An important structural difference is also the way the roof is built. In containers it is actually flat, with a slope angle of 1%, while in the case of modular buildings it is as much as 30%. The insulation of this zone of the building is also designed differently. Although in both cases the insulation material is mineral wool in combination with a vapor barrier foil, it is modular houses they are additionally equipped with a roof membrane.
As a rule, modular houses are built with large steel frames and panels. All components are manufactured and assembled in the factory, and then transported to the construction site. Such modules are more aesthetic than container houses because they can be designed with different finishes and materials. The most common solution is a natural façade board that can be painted in many colors, which gives the designer a wide range of possibilities to adjust the building to the investor's taste. An additional advantage is the issue of finishing the roof. In case of containers it is a trapezoidal sheet, while the roofs of modular houses are usually finished with sheet metal on the so-called seam. Both the one and the other type of finish allows you to choose a color in accordance with the RAL template.
Container houses have their own unique, industrial look - often this style is the main reason for choosing this solution. They are also more compact and take up little space, making them ideal for constructing smaller properties. On the other hand, modular homes can be designed to more closely resemble traditional construction in style and aesthetics, and can be more easily adapted to the specific needs of the owner.
As a rule, both container and modular houses are cheaper alternatives to traditional buildings. However, there are also significant price differences between them. This is mainly due to the above-mentioned differences in the materials used and construction. Modular houses are certainly solutions with better aesthetics and a higher level of finish, while containers present a raw industrial style, which translates into lower production costs. Prices both habitable containersand modular construction facilities are varied and depend on the final configuration of the building. However, container solutions will always be cheaper than modular houses.
When considering the differences between modular and container construction, it is also worth focusing on their purpose. Container structures are more often dedicated to temporary, seasonal or back-up buildings, e.g. on construction sites. On the other hand, modular buildings are rather buildings that are to be a permanent solution: a residential house (often a residence), a hotel or a public utility building.
Container house or modular house - which solution to choose?
It is difficult to clearly indicate a better choice, because it depends on the needs, expectations and budget of the investor. Both container and modular homes have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Container construction is certainly more affordable and has its own unique industrial look that cannot be replaced by anything. Modular houses, in turn, give more design possibilities, allow you to create more architecturally interesting objects. Each of these solutions is good, energy-saving, and, what is important, cost-effective.
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