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BUILDING METHODSUsing prefab methods in high-tourist areas can yield results. 

By Scott Acton

Prefabrication in construction is nothing new, but there are leaders in the industry who still struggle with accepting and implementing new trends. Recent studies have shown only 40 percent of contractors consider prefab a part of their company’s strategic initiative despite building information modeling (BIM) making prefab techniques easier and providing higher quality results. Though quality control in prefab has historically been a concern, advances in technology and improved methods have alleviated these concerns and perfected these techniques across the board. Consequently, as contractors struggle to find methods of decreasing project timelines, budgets and disruptions to local economies, prefab will continue to prove a cohesive and effective solution.

In high-density areas, tourism typically has a substantial impact on the local economy. For example, according to a recent study by The Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority, the leisure and hospitality industry accounts for 43 percent of employment in Southern Nevada. Additionally, the 40 million visitors each year make tourism an economic lifeline for the city. Long-term construction projects can deter visitors to local venues and negatively impact revenues. As such, prefab is an important solution to factor into construction discussions in areas where the local economy would be impacted by lengthy timelines, messy construction sites and reduced accessibility of nearby venues. As project teams seek to lessen the impact of construction, prefab can decrease the timeline and make construction on-site less disruptive for local businesses whose economic vitality depends on tourists.

In addition to local tourism factors and the impact on surrounding entertainment or hospitality venues, there are several key considerations to determine if prefab is the best option for any given project.

  • Budget. Prefab allows for cost reduction and, in most cases, significantly improves the commercial viability of low and lower-middle-level venues. Enhanced design ergonomics, space-saving options, characteristic design aesthetics, simplicity of cleaning and environmental friendliness are all ROI-enhancing factors to the use of prefab. Additionally, prefab has been shown to decrease overall project costs by up to six percent or more.
  • Location and timeline. While certain product types may not directly benefit financially from prefab, timeline reduction is always a benefit. Traditionally, on-site building approaches get the job done and sometimes at nearly the same cost, but project timelines and impact on local communities can be curbed with a different approach. Serious considerations about prefab should be made for projects that would benefit from shorter timelines. 
  • On-site labor. Prefab techniques have been shown to improve productivity, housekeeping and safety at project sites. Labor costs continue to rise in 2016 and prefab methods have been shown to save up to 11 percent in labor costs. Additionally, prefab enhances efficiency on-site, reducing turnover and training costs. Prefab also allows for a greater precision of work, thus enhancing the project safety, providing quality guarantees at a faster pace of work.
  • Sustainability goals. Sustainability has become a significant element of the construction industry. The shift toward sustainable construction and the concerns about carbon emissions on-site have made prefab a viable solution to several problems. Studies have shown prefab methods decrease waste at more than 75 percent of project sites. Prefab also decreases the use of water and operational energy on-site. In terms of limiting the impact on surrounding quality of life, prefab can be a key element in maintaining a higher quality, environmentally-friendly construction site.

Currently, Forté Specialty Contractors is utilizing prefab methods on a renovation project at a local hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Focusing on modernizing the outdated interiors to meet the needs of today’s guest, the company is employing prefab to minimize service disruptions at the hotel, boost the property return on investment due to the improved consumer appeal, decrease the on-site presence of the construction workforce and reduce the overall construction timeline and budget.

As the hotel and casino has continued its normal operation throughout the renovation process, booking rooms in advance, the renovation is under tight deadlines. Forté is proceeding at a pace of fully renovating one floor per week; therefore, the venue’s losses due to the construction activity are minimal during construction. During the renovation, “packages” of the prefab interior components are assembled in Forté’s shop, including framing and precut drywall, and are delivered to each hotel room. Once the packages reach the room, they are assembled on-site requiring significantly less labor than a traditional construction project as all elements necessary for completion are measured and precut to fit the dimensions of the room. The streamlined and standardized approach has resulted in Forté meeting its feasibility targets week after week, while saving time, money and peace of mind for their client.

A better grasp of the benefits of prefab, and the projects for which it can be most beneficial, is a key ingredient in the future success of hospitality projects. With shifts from the negative undertones surrounding prefab, combined with its ability to help reduce overall costs and project timelines, it will become more prevalent as contractors realize its ability to simplify projects – specifically within the hospitality and entertainment industries. 

Scott Acton is the CEO and founder of Forté Specialty Contractors in Las Vegas, a construction firm specializing in the hospitality, restaurant, retail, nightlife and entertainment industries. His ability to visualize the unusual has propelled the company into the national spotlight as the premier specialty construction firm for groundbreaking experiential design. He can be reached at scott@fortedesignbuild.com or 702-697-2000.

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