Education August 23, 2023

Permanent vs. Relocatable Modular – What’s the Difference?

Before beginning your modular construction journey, it’s important to understand the two main types of modular solutions – permanent modular structures and relocatable modular structures. Permanent modular structures are installed and fabricated for long-term use. Just like any other conventional building, they tend to last for decades, whereas relocatable modular structures are installed for a shorter duration, say for a few months or years. While modular buildings can be temporary, most of our building projects are permanent in nature. In 2022, permanent modular buildings account for 6.03% of all new construction starts in North America. At NRB, all temporary structures are built to permanent building standards, which means you won’t compromise on anything in terms of quality regardless of the type you choose.  

Built with speed, cost certainty and sustainability, the benefits of modular building solutions are hard to ignore. So, determining the right modular building solution for you all comes down to usage, plus your specifications, requirements and needs for the build. To help with that decision, we will be breaking down the difference between permanent and relocatable modular building types. Read on to learn more about the benefits of each solution type and their respective industry applications.  

what are relocatable modular structures?

Relocatable modular building structures provide quick access to convertible and relocatable indoor spaces. These structures are resilient enough to be torn down and reinstalled or relocated a number of times. While relocatable modular structures cannot be directly attached to existing structures, they are designed to provide an affordable and versatile solution for wherever extra space is required. This makes them suitable for a variety of flexible uses, such as portable classrooms, remote workforce housing, disaster relief housing or temporary workspaces. 

What are permanent modular structures?

Permanent modular structures are permanent buildings, with the intent being a long-standing structure that is not going to be moved or altered. Permanent modular structures can be seamlessly attached to existing structures and are built with the same façade, and structural and technological details of the existing structures so that a modular addition is virtually indistinguishable. Unlike relocatable structures, permanent buildings are typically constructed on a foundation like one that would be seen in traditional construction. The foundation of permanent modular buildings includes poured concrete with rebar and crushed stone, making them immovable. Naturally, the immovable nature of permanent modular buildings also means they are better suited for large modular building projects or projects requiring advanced customization. 

Relocatable and Permanent Modular Structure Comparison

Relocatable vs Permanent Modular

Uses and Applications of Relocatable Modular Structures

At NRB, we provide a wide variety of relocatable structures that are fit to serve any of your personal or professional needs. Ranging from structures designed to accommodate temporary housing needs to modular structures that can help keep your business agile, temporary and relocatable modular building products are an excellent solution in terms of speed, quality and cost. 

relocatable modular room

From self-contained units equipped with a washroom, to large-scale side-by-side camps, there is a wide range of temporary modular products available that respond to the high demand for affordable housing options across North America. These temporary housing structures can also function as a workforce accommodation option in even the most remote areas.

medic unit

Other forms of relocatable structures – like medic units, lavatories, well-sites and double-wide complexes – can be used to support any operation that calls for flexible shelter options. Because these units can have many applications, each building can be fully tailored for size, layout and structural considerations, as well as mechanical, electrical and architectural needs.

side by side camps

Uses and Applications of Permanent Modular Structures

Our technology-driven modular building process allows us to design and fabricate large-scale permanent projects that seamlessly blend into the surrounding community. From schools, to hotels, to multi-family housing units, permanent and integrated modular structures provide quick and efficient solutions for building projects in any industry.  

hostel facility in jasper, alberta

Integrated modular solutions bring value and peace-of-mind to your business by providing affordable and quick solutions to any of your needs without compromising on quality. With the majority of the construction process happening in off-site locations, developing the foundation and building the structure can happen simultaneously which allows for a faster-project timeline of up to 50% and reduces the risk of weather delays. This means getting people into buildings faster and seeing a quicker ROI.

multifamily housing

Benefits & Considerations

benefits vs considerations of permanent vs. temporary modular structures

Choosing between a permanent or temporary modular solution for your business is not always an easy task, but partnering with NRB means that we’ll be with you every step of the way.

From design to installation, the expert team at NRB will work with all parties involved to ensure that you get exactly the solution that you are looking for!  

Start planning your project

When you’re ready to start, we’re ready to take you through our responsive planning and design process. Get in touch today and we’ll create a plan that meets your goals for quality, design, affordability and time to market.



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