Jumbo Shrimp. Military Intelligence. A Little Pregnant. Permanent Modular. Which one of those terms is NOT an oxymoron? That’s right, the term “Permanent Modular” is not the oxymoron some might believe it to be. Many people think “temporary” when they think “modular building”. That’s just not correct.
Although modular buildings are often used to satisfy temporary needs, and can be quickly installed in a temporary location, today’s modern commercial modular building can be considered “permanent” construction in every way. These building are built to the exact same national building codes (International Building Code, for example) as any commercial building that is built on site. Actually, the argument can be made that modular buildings are better built than site-built buildings because modular buildings must be constructed well enough to withstand the considerable rigors associated with transporting the sections over long distances. Stick-built buildings are not designed to endure those transportation stresses, and they won’t survive them; modular buildings do, with no trouble.
The confusion between “permanent” and “temporary” actually arises from how the building is installed. To clarify, an Industrialized Building (a commercial modular building) may be placed on either a temporary or permanent foundation. That’s the difference in a nutshell. If the building is to be relocated at a later date, or if the governing authorities (municipal codes, etc.) allow a temporary foundation installation, the building is usually installed in such a manner. It’s faster, somewhat easier, and usually less expensive; but not always.
If required by a municipality, or by a financing authority, or if the client just desires it, the same building can be installed on a permanent foundation; usually a concrete slab, a poured-perimeter, or a poured pier-and-beam foundation. By definition, the industrialized building is permanently attached to the site. Permanent foundation designs must be approved and sealed by a licensed engineer or architect. That is often the responsibility of the modular builder, In the case of Palomar, we have qualified and certified personnel on staff. A permanent foundation must also be inspected at several phases, and the Industrialized Builder is also responsible for those inspections, as required, and to provide inspectors with proper documentation during the process.
So, the bottom line is that Industrialized Buildings can be considered either temporary, or permanent, all depending on the installation foundation. Otherwise, the buildings are identical.