Permanent vs. Temporary Modular Buildings

In deciding between permanent vs temporary modular buildings, it is important to understand that each is a specific building type, but both utilize the same modular construction process. In the end, permanent modular buildings are indistinguishable from conventional construction, while temporary buildings look different and serve a different purpose.


Determining whether you need a permanent modular vs. temporary modular building will depend on your long-term needs, budget, architectural design requirements, types of materials used and a number of other important considerations.



By choosing modular construction for your next building project, you can significantly reduce your costs, as well as the time frame in which your building will be completed. Modular construction can be 30-50% faster than conventional construction.

When you choose a high quality modular construction, your new building will be indistinguishable from a traditionally built structure. Moreover, you can choose modular construction with confidence that the quality of the materials, the completeness of the amenities, and the longevity of your modular building will be identical to conventional construction.


Purpose of the Building

A temporary modular building can be used for a number of specific purposes. You can use a temporary building in areas of natural disasters where erecting and relocating structures, such as housing and emergency medical facilities is essential to saving lives.

Temporary modular buildings are also great as new additions to schools, which also frequently need to move and rearrange their buildings to accommodate growing numbers of students. Other relocatable spaces that you can use a temporary modular building for are mobile show rooms, sales centers, and construction site offices.


Permanent modular building are best used for projects with regular layouts, and repetitive spaces, that do not need to be relocated, such as hospitals, schools, dorms, office buildings, senior living housing, military housing, and hotels. You can also use a permanent modular structure as a stand alone building, such a bank, chain of restaurants, retail spaces, etc.


Intended Length of a Building’s Service Life

Permanent building structures will last for decades, and are indistinguishable from conventional construction. On the other hand, if you need a building that will serve only a few months or a few years, a modular building will be a better option.

Installing and Relocating the Building

Temporary modular buildings are easily relocatable to a different location. They can be quickly and easily dismantled and assembled right back at a new location. This feature makes temporary modular buildings ideal for any situation where a building needs to be relocated to a new location to accommodate different needs. Moreover, temporary modular buildings can be relocated numerous times throughout their service lives and are very durable.

By contrast, a permanent modular building is not intended for relocation. It can be set on a foundation and tied into all utilities, just like a conventionally constructed building. After a permanent modular building is installed, capital improvements to extend the building’s service life, such as HVAC, roof replacements, etc., are made on the same schedule as a conventional building.

A permanent modular building is also subject to the same maintenance and inspection requirements as traditional buildings. It is possible to relocate a permanent modular building, but it takes a lot more effort.

Cost of the Building and Real Estate Value

Temporary modular units cost less than permanent modular buildings. It is possible to rent, lease or purchase a temporary modular building. On the other hand, permanent modular buildings are more expensive and typically need to be purchased. It is also possible to find long-term, or ongoing leasing options for a permanent modular building.

Since temporary buildings are relocatable they are typically not permanently affixed to real estate. As a result, a temporary modular building is considered personal property, or a equipment, and as a result its value depreciates over a short period of time. As a result, they do not offer the same investment benefits as a permanent modular building, which keeps its value over time, similar to a conventional building.

Architectural Design

In terms of architectural design and aesthetic appeal, temporary modular construction offers limited options. Typically, temporary modular buildings have a pre-designed layout and you will have little input over materials used or customization options.

On the other hand, with a permanent modular building, you can get a custom designed building finished to your architectural specifications. You will have the same design, structural and finish material options as the ones available for conventional buildings. During the final stage of construction, exterior systems such as cladding and roofing components as well as internal spaces like lobbies, stairwells, and elevator shafts are completed, so at the end your permanent modular building will look the same as a conventional one.

The only limitations in size of a permanent modular building are those dictated by the materials you choose to use and local building codes. A permanent modular building can occupy any square footage specified and easy to expand. The beauty of a finished permanent building is that modularity completely disappears, and the building’s occupants will not be able to tell how the structure was built.

Building Materials

Temporary modular buildings are predominantly made of wood. Since permanent modular buildings are intended for longer use, they are made mostly of concrete and steel, in addition to wood.

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