Fact or Myth: Modular Buildings Outlast Stick-Built

Peoples’ perceptions of modular buildings are beginning to shift toward the positive. Even a handful of years ago, the word “modular construction” was mistakenly synonymous with trailers— boxy structures that didn’t have much character. Of course, at SMM, customizing and detailing our modular buildings is a specialty. But there’s still one rumor we’d like to set straight.

Can modular buildings last longer than site-built structures?

The short answer? No. It’s a myth to say that modular buildings, as a rule, last longer than stick-built structures. But the fact is, because modular buildings — especially ours — can be customized with so many different materials, they can indeed be built to have the same lifespan of a stick-built structure. We just wouldn’t go as far as saying that they’re guaranteed to last longer.

The devil’s in the details

More than anything, longevity of a given structure depends on materials. With modular buildings, you can get all of the same features as a stick-built structure: a permanent foundation, a complex HVAC system, and all of the same finishes, both exterior and interior. For instance, you could specify a high-pitched roof in a modular building, for a more stick-built look. It’ll look like it’s stick-built, but you’re saving on time and cost, given the modular construction timeline. 

Materials even the playing field

Especially if you’re specifying materials for a modular structure that you’d similarly specify in a stick-built structure, the cost differences won’t vary all that much between the two budgets. Similarly, neither will the durability or longevity. It’s because materials even the playing field. When we build with metal frames throughout a facility, obviously it’s going to last longer than a wood frame. Wood frames are more temporary in nature, and won’t last for 50 years. They’re more in the 15- to 25-year lifespan.

Investing in materials means investing in longevity

Even though we can’t guarantee how long a building will last, being able to customize a modular building means that you’re able to specify long-lasting materials. For example, our very first modular structure built a decade ago is still in use today, and has many more years ahead of it. Because it wasn’t needed permanently, we were able to re-lease it at a discount to new clients who didn’t desire to specify a building from scratch. So long as a building is well maintained, it’ll last — whether it’s built modularly, or stick-built. 

For more modular construction myths debunked, read here.