George and Ira Gershwin wrote “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” for the 1937 film Shall We Dance with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The lyrics are a whimsical play on synonyms, using different variations of a term to describe the same thing.
You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto
Let’s call the whole thing off
A common misunderstanding exists for the homonym, portable buildings, a single term that describes two completely different buildings. To some, portable buildings are the garden sheds you can buy at the big box hardware stores. In the modular building industry portable buildings are structures manufactured with, or set on, a temporary foundation so the building can be economically relocated.
Garden sheds are inexpensive pre-manufactured storage sheds made from plastic, wood or metal. Garden sheds are utilized as storage buildings, workshops, garages, and cabins among other uses. Product descriptions for garden sheds may include claims like heavy duty, weather resistant, and wind or snow load resistances. Many areas require a building permit for structures over 200 square feet which is why garden sheds are sold in smaller sizes so home owners don’t need to mess with building permits. Garden or storage sheds are not built to the international building code (IBC).
The modular building industry’s portable building is a structure built to the International Building Code just like any other conventionally built structure. A portable modular building is essentially built in the same manner whether it is intended for a permanent or temporary foundation, the main difference is in the final foundation and finish. Temporary foundation finishes consist of materials that are easy to disassemble for transport. Portable modular buildings are often used for portable classrooms, portable office buildings, man camps, and swing space or temporary transitional buildings.
You say portable building, and I say portable building, let’s get the whole thing straight. As of late, the terminology creep between the two terms have created confusion in the marketplace. Let’s be clear, if you want a contemporary structure built to the International Building Code that can be economically moved between locations you want a portable building, if you are storing yard equipment you want a garden shed.