Modular buildings – design stages

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Modular buildings are not built – they are manufactured in a factory, due to which they have a number of characteristics, including mobility, i.e. ability to change location. How, then, do modular buildings or, as they are also called, block containers acquire such characteristics and why can they be used both as temporary and permanent housing? The answer to all these questions lies in understanding the design of modular buildings. So let’s look at all the stages that an ordinary railway container goes through to become a modular building..

Design of modular buildings

The creation of a modular building begins with the development of the project

There is a firm rule in the design of modular buildings: you cannot weaken the rigidity of the supporting structures – the channel that forms the skeleton of each container. Otherwise, it all depends on the wishes of the customers and the capabilities of the performers. The project of a modular building includes an architectural and construction part, heating and ventilation, sewerage and water supply, electricity, etc., in other words, it includes those parts that will be executed in a specific modular building.

Choosing the right container and where to get it

The containers used in railway transportation are different in size and in some other aspects, but we are primarily interested in the dimensions – the area of ​​a separate block container will depend on this. The length of containers is measured in feet, among carriers they are called so – 20 feet, etc. The greatest demand among customers of modular buildings is used by 20 and 40 foot containers (a foot is indicated by two upper quotation marks – “” “), they are conveniently transported by container ships.

Parameters of containers used to create modular buildings

Designation Encoding External / internal width, mm External / internal height, mm External / internal length, mm Empty weight, kg
20″ from 00 to 09 2 438/2 383 2 438/2 383 6 096/5 935 2080
40 “ from 00 to 09 2 438/2 383 2 438/2 383 12 192/12 022 3900

You can purchase containers in the required quantity from transport companies. The fact is that used containers are quite suitable for modular buildings, with some reservations: without torn walls, not susceptible to rust, without any damage to the supporting channels (holes, bends), the roof should be without holes, door hatches should open well / close and fit snugly against the jamb, no displacement.

Wall insulation

It is not desirable that the walls of the container have welded patches. Minor dents in the metal corrugation of the walls are acceptable – they can be straightened. To find out if a particular container has holes invisible at first glance, you need to go inside in daylight and close the hatch flaps behind you – in the created darkness, most of the holes will show themselves, letting in daylight. Attention should be paid to the floor covering of the container – it must be intact and even.

When you purchase a container (s), you must have documents for each of them! Why do you need documents – see here.

Initial stage of work on a modular building

The container was purchased, it was loaded onto a container ship and delivered to the workshop. It’s time to start working on it – first of all, straightening dents, cleaning the walls from paint and rust. The following tool will come in handy here – a grinder, gas cutting equipment, a sledgehammer and a special jack for leveling metal surfaces. For smoothing out small dents, a 2K Automotive Putty will do..

The walls of the future block module are marked for technological openings – in other words, openings are drawn and cut out for doors and windows, as well as for ventilation, water supply and sewerage according to the developed project. Locks are cut from the hatch doors – they are no longer needed.

Preparation of internal cladding

To do this, you will need: steel wall 2x20x50 mm and ceiling plates 2x40x80 mm with a technological hole d4 mm located at a distance of 15 mm from the edge of the plate on one side of it; edged timber on walls 40×30 mm and on a ceiling 40×50 mm; mineral wool with a thickness of at least 50 mm (without a foil layer); PVC film 1 mm thick, knitting wire (flexible) d 0.5 – 1 mm; rolled roofing material; double-chip (chipboard) plate 16 mm thick.

From tools and equipment you will need: a grinder with stripping and cutting discs, an alternating current welding machine and electrodes mp3, construction staplers and staples (12 mm), screwdrivers and drills, hammers, wood screws 40 and 50 mm long (secret), nails long 70 and 100 mm.

Before starting work on the inner lining, all technological holes must be made, frames specially made of 2 mm steel are welded to them, the edges are cleaned and aligned. For the installation of exhaust fans, special boxes of the required diameter are made; they are installed in the prepared holes by welding. Container door hatches are welded with electric welding.

Steel wall plates are welded one at a time to the inside of the walls and ceiling of the future modular building in the form of a zigzag (so that one horizontal bar runs between them) at a given distance – they are designed to fasten the bar to the walls and ceiling. Welding points of plates with the side and top walls of the block container are cleaned, primed with oil paint.

Preparation and installation of wooden beams

The timber is completely saturated with Oksol linseed oil, it is better to repeat this operation twice – so the tree will be guaranteed protected from moisture. Then it is dried and covered with a fire retardant – a mandatory operation!

Internal finishing of the block container

After processing and drying, the timber is attached to the wall and ceiling plates using nails. Each wall and ceiling, door and window openings are framed along the contour with a bar fixed with wall plates. At the places where sockets and switches, junction boxes and lamps will be installed, any equipment is fixed (for example, a boiler), embedded parts made of wood of the required dimensions are installed.

Internal partitions are created using bar gratings.

And what to do with the floor of the future modular building?

Here roofing felt and chipboard sheets are just useful. Roofing material is rolled out and laid on the existing floor covering of the container, then pvc film and chipboard sheets are laid on top. Chipboard sheets are held in place by the lower level of the wall lining.

Thermal insulation of walls, ceiling and floor – the next step

Rolls of mineral wool are sawn using a conventional wood saw into pieces, the width of which is the same as the width of the spaces between the horizontally laid timber on the walls and ceiling. The rolls of mineral wool sawn in this way are laid between the timber, they are fixed between the timber using a knitting wire and a construction stapler, while the knitting wire is fastened in a zigzag.

Installation of electrical wiring

The installation of mineral wool is completed, now you need to forward the electrical cable, make the wiring using din-rails in the junction boxes of the indoor installation. No twists wrapped in electrical tape! An important point – all the cable that makes up the wiring in a modular building must be enclosed in a special corrugated hose of the appropriate diameter, equipped with a probe for pulling the electrical cable. The material from which the corrugated hose is made does not support combustion – thus eliminating the possibility of a possible fire due to the fault of the electrical wiring. Wiring is supplied to the installation sites of switches and sockets, electrical appliances and lighting lamps, according to the wiring plan, followed by mixing into the electrical panel and grounding. This advice will be appropriate here – a copper stranded cable (wire) is best suited for electrical wiring. He is flexible – much easier to work with.

The last stage of laying insulation

Upon completion of the installation of mineral insulation and the laying of electrical wiring, the walls and ceiling are completely covered with pvc film: it is necessary for the vapor barrier of the room. With the help of a stapler, the pvc film is attached to a wooden bar framing the ceiling, walls and openings in them.

We continue the construction of the block module – we put doors and windows

For a modular building, window frames made of plastic (metal-plastic) or aluminum alloy are best suited, external doors and door frames made of metal (the best choice) or wood, and internal ones made of wood or MDF (door leaves). Locks cut into the outer doors. At this stage, the outer doors and window frames are inserted into the prepared openings where the custom-made steel frames were previously installed. At this stage, the insulating glass units themselves are not inserted into the frames, the frames from the outside are completely tightened with pvc film – until the modular building is delivered to the installation site.

Completion of interior decoration

The material from which the interior decoration of the modular building will be made may be different: pvc and mdf panels, lining and drywall. If the first three finishes are final, then when choosing drywall, you will need more wallpapering.

Development of the change house project

To cover the surface of the floor, linoleum, floorboards, laminate and other materials are used, the installation / laying of which is carried out according to the technology applicable to each material separately. Internal doorways, if any, are fitted with doors. A butt strip made of pvc or wood is installed on all joints, a plinth is mounted along the line of intersection of walls and floor.

Installation of electrical outlets, lamps and electrical appliances

After the completion of the interior decoration, there is a queue of switches, sockets and lamps – they are put in their places, electrical wiring is connected to them. For modular buildings, only outdoor sockets and switches are suitable. Outdoor switches and sockets, as well as lamps (if required) must have an IP of at least 65, i.e. dust and moisture resistant is an important condition!

Ventilation equipment

Each container block must be equipped with forced ventilation – if the inner area of ​​a modular building is divided into several rooms, then the hood is installed in each of them. Installation of equipment for air exchange is carried out regardless of whether split systems will be installed in the block-container. By the way, split systems process only the internal volume of air in the room, their outdoor unit serves only to cool the air conditioner itself.

Plumbing, heating and sewerage

All pipelines in the block container are made of pvc. Their parameters, completeness and wiring diagram are calculated during design. Installation requires special equipment. In shower rooms (unless it is a ready-made shower cabin) located in the block module, it is necessary to make a high threshold – so that accidentally spilled water does not penetrate into other rooms.

External finishing of a modular building

Regardless of whether the block-module is painted on the outside or its metal base is hidden for greater aesthetics with external finishing materials – it is completely painted with a layer (or preferably two) of oil primer. If a decision is made to “leave” the modular building on the outside “metallic”, then it is painted with two or three coats of oil paint. It is better to choose a matte paint – small dents will be less visible. It will not be possible to completely hide the dents – these are memorable signs about the past of the container, when it was used as a container and was repeatedly loaded / unloaded.

Modular buildings in the garden

The desire of customers to hide the “container past” of a block-container is quite understandable – who will like an office or a dacha that looks like a construction trailer, albeit more comfortable. Materials for ventilated facades will help to completely change the appearance of a modular building; their installation is carried out according to the installation technology of each type of material.

Roof for modular building

By and large, the block module does not need a special roof – it already has it. Although, from the point of view of aesthetics, the existing roof of the container obviously loses – it has an unattractive appearance. Therefore, an additional one- or two-slope roof is installed: the supporting elements are made of an equal angle corner or timber, and the roof can be of any roofing material. Most often, the roof of modular buildings is made of corrugated board – this material is cheaper.

90% readiness of the block module – it’s time to transport it!

After passing all the steps described above, the modular building is ready for transportation to the installation site. The operability of all systems installed in the block-module has been tested. The building is being prepared for transportation – plugs are installed (at least made of pvc film) on the outlets / inlets of the pipeline, protective covers are put on on the external electrical panels, the tightening of window openings with pvc film is checked. Outer and inner doors are slightly opened and fixed with wooden wedges in this position – this will help to avoid skewing of the door leaves when loading / unloading the block module, such cases are extremely rare, but it is better to be safe.

Installation of block modules

All attached electrical equipment is removed from the installation sites and securely fixed inside the modular building, the same is done with double-glazed windows. The structures that form the roof are disassembled into parts and fixed on top of the block module. It is most convenient to make them collapsible, with a bolt fastening – such a structure is easier to assemble during installation work at the installation site.

Everything is done – we load the modular building onto the platform of the container ship and forward to the installation site at a speed not exceeding 50 km / h.

Installation of a modular building on site

A monolithic foundation is not required to place the block module. However, the characteristics of the soil at the location will matter – if there are any doubts about its stability, then it is better not to experiment and use reinforced concrete foundation blocks as a support for our building. Their number and installation scheme, as well as the very need for a light foundation is determined during the preparation of the project.

At this final stage, he assembles the roof from the prepared elements, inserts double-glazed windows into the frames, unlocks the doors, installs hinged electrical equipment, connects electricity, water supply and sewerage. All systems of the modular building are checked. If the customer ordered the exterior finish of the block module, then it is installed right now on the system of fasteners, mounted in advance in the workshop. The building is ready for use and handed over to the customer.

Modular building documentation

This building is a factory product, therefore it is accompanied by a technical data sheet. Together with it, the customer receives the instruction manual and the certificate of conformity..

I personally observed the entire process of creating modular buildings for various purposes, participated in their creation, and I can say with full responsibility – you can live in such a building in complete comfort. The process of creating block modules is as painstaking as possible in the workshop, where the working team has all the necessary tools and materials at hand, and the workers themselves are fluent in production technology.

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