Keeping Costs Down

Modular buildings provide a money-saving alternative to new construction.

The new business mantra of 2009 is clear: Save, save, save. Many commercial real estate professionals are gripping their purse strings tightly, simply trying to survive until the market rights itself. And while some tenants continue to develop and grow their businesses, they now are taking more-cautious, economical approaches, which can include revised expansion plans rather than purchasing or leasing new space.

One money-saving option that commercial real estate professionals can share with clients is the purchase or leasing of modular buildings. Often under the radar, modular units have come of age with major advancements in design and construction technology. Done right, modular spaces offer facilities a seamless look and operate exactly like their built counterparts, giving tenants and building owners the flexibility to increase and reduce space with minimal capital expenditure.

When added to existing facilities, modular buildings quickly provide swing or expansion space to full-capacity buildings. Auxiliary facilities also can be disassembled rapidly, giving companies the means to easily downsize and consolidate business locations. Also, most modular building companies offer tax-deductible leasing options, which is an important factor in today’s challenging economy. Commercial real estate professionals can help owners and tenants save on construction costs or keep them in their current locations by learning about modular buildings.

Real Life Success

Solix Biofuels, a renewable energy company in Fort Collins, Colo., offers an example of the modular route. The company needed a flexible, cost-effective way to add two experimental facilities to its business campus. Solix’s facilities consisted of a pre-engineered steel warehouse but it needed more professional workspace to meet the needs of its growing business. The company wanted to position the new buildings as closely to the existing facility as possible.

To keep construction costs down, Solix paired up with Pennsylvania.-based Modular Space Corp., which provides modular buildings, storage, and other services for temporary or permanent space needs. ModSpace assembled nine 12-by-60-foot modular units to create two separate buildings that connected to Solix’s warehouse. An interior commercial door built into the modular space gives employees direct access from the warehouse to the modular units.

The 6,480-square-foot space was completed in less than six months and at a significantly lower cost overall than other options such as conventional construction. The new facility includes a conference room, kitchenette, two bathrooms, laboratory space, and office space. ModSpace also handled other functions such as zoning compliance as well as planning and utility services.

Without breaking the bank or having to compromise its desire to keep its business campus intact, Solix was able to expand its space. Commercial real estate professionals working with property owners as well as tenants that desire more space should become familiar with the benefits of modular buildings.

Craig Burns

Craig Burns is the chief financial officer of Modular Space Corp. in Berwyn, Pa. Contact him at (800) 523-7918 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} or For more information on modular construction, visit