Modular Student Housing – Efficient Solutions to a Growing Need

The search for effective housing on or near campus has become one of the most difficult parts of university life.

According to the Globe and Mail, enrolment in Canadian universities has more than doubled since 1980, and 80 per cent of the 1.7 million people attending post-secondary schools in Canada require off-campus housing. With only 20 per cent of students interested in on-campus housing, there is still an unprecedented amount of applications for those spaces. The result, in many cases, is that on-campus spaces are reserved only for students in their first year.

When the Government of British Columbia announced a commitment to partnering with post-secondary institutions to create 5,000 new student housing spaces over three years, it shed light on the accommodation situation for students in BC. However, a shortage of effective student living spaces is not a problem unique to BC. Over the last two years, Calgary, Greater Toronto, Montreal and others have been mentioned with Vancouver and Kelowna as areas where the supply of living spaces that fit students’ budget and access requirements doesn’t meet the need.

What are the solutions to student housing shortages?

Post-secondary enrolment shows no signs of slowing down. That means institutions, student groups, surrounding communities, and the public and private sectors will only face more pressure to create student housing opportunities. The commitment by the BC government to partnering with post-secondary institutions for student housing delivery is the most recent example of a policy-led solution. The partnerships will see institutions borrowing directly from the Province in order to help finance new student housing.

From a construction perspective, a technique that is growing in popularity for student housing and other forms of affordable living is modular construction, because of its ability to rapidly respond to accommodation needs. Rather than waiting a year or more for a desperately needed facility to be built through conventional methods, a modular structure can be constructed, installed and opened to residents up to 50 per cent faster, with no reduction in quality.

Where NRB Modular Solutions specifically can be of benefit in student housing is in its flexible use for post-secondary institutions, offering both permanent and temporary solutions.

Permanent solutions

For off-campus locations, NRB’s permanent structures offer investment opportunities in modular student housing for public or private sector entities. The shortened construction timeframe creates opportunity to quickly capitalize on, and begin generating revenue from, locations which lend themselves to use by post-secondary students through proximity to campus or mass transit. Whether multi-family living or laneway homes, our buildings are designed to fit the fabric of their surrounding community and remain in place for decades.

For post-secondary institutions looking at on-campus housing solutions, our permanent structures provide a fit and finish that is virtually indistinguishable from the site-built structures that prevail on campuses today. They offer a place where students can make the memories that are critical to the university and college experience.

Temporary solutions

One of the barriers to the construction of student housing on campuses is land use plans that can look forward 50 years in certain cases. There is an understandable reluctance to build permanent structures on spaces that have been designated for future non-housing uses. Our unique temporary modular student housing structures present an ideal solution to addressing those concerns.

Placed on a temporary foundation, the structures can be removed from a site and redeployed several times over. This allows for future development plans to continue unimpeded and provides a lifeline to institutions and students by providing living spaces on land which may otherwise sit untouched for years.

The benefits of modular construction

In modular construction, sections of a building (modules) are manufactured off-site in a temperature-controlled facility. Those modules are then transported to their final site, set on the foundation footprint by crane, and joined together to make one integrated building. Once the modules are assembled on-site and the integration is complete, the structure is virtually indistinguishable from those built by traditional construction methods.

For projects with rapid response as a focus, modular construction’s greatest benefit over conventional methods is the reduction and certainty in timetables. Because manufacturing occurs in a controlled indoor environment at the same time as foundational work occurs on the eventual site, timeframes to completion are greatly reduced.

Apart from scheduling certainty, modular construction also brings with it other inherent improvements over site-built construction methods:

  • Superior quality – Modular projects are subject to stringent internal quality assurance / quality control processes, which are then confirmed by on-site third-party inspectors.
  • Cost certainty – Costs remain on track as time delays due to weather, minimal trade availability, accident damage or theft are virtually eliminated.
  • Sustainability – The lean modular construction process cuts down significantly on waste and improves efficiencies. On the final site, the construction footprint is greatly reduced as well, with less noise, dust and vehicle traffic occurring over a shorter period of time.

If you are a not for profit housing provider or a private builder considering a student housing project, we would enjoy an opportunity to meet with you and talk about NRB’s full turn-key modular solutions offering.

For more information, explore our solutions or tell us about your project.

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