Moisture and Mold. The emergence of modular assemblies as an option for new construction is becoming mainstream. However, this industry has had its share of mold and moisture problems, especially in warm and humid climates like the Southeast United States. Both wood-frame and steel-frame modular construction have experienced problems with condensation in crawlspaces, marriage walls, and ceiling-to-floor cavities, resulting in deterioration of the wood and wallboards, corrosion of metal floor pans, and proliferation of mold.
The greatest risk of modular construction failures has occurred when it is used for hotels, student housing, senior living, or soldier housing—generally, facilities that are domicidal or multifamily in nature. The reason for this risk probability is due to inherent similarities in requirements for the living units of these types of facilities, such as an individual cooling/heating unit, bathroom exhaust, and some sort of central HVAC makeup air system. Additionally, the abundance of modular boxes in these kinds of buildings increases the number of marriage wall interior cavities and ceiling-to-floor cavities that otherwise might not be required in other types of modular construction. Care must be taken to be sure modular facilities achieve maximum ventilation and dehumidification, while also maintaining the aforementioned thermal/energy efficiency.
"The nature of modular construction makes it difficult to repair once water or mold damage is found. Sometimes the damage can be such that the modular building has to be deconstructed to remove deteriorated materials, and then re-designed and re-constructed using conventional methods. This essentially causes the advantages of modular construction to dissolve away as the building gets converted to a traditional 'stick' wood-frame building or a traditional steel structure building." (Source of quote)
It’s not unique to modular facilities, of course, but it’s definitely something we want to keep in mind as we’re building student housing.
An industry publication, here, shared the following vision:
3. A MODULAR SOLUTION TO SUSTAINABILITY