According to the U.S. Census Bureau, prefabricated wood building manufacturing in the United States brought in just over $2 billion in annual revenue in 2011. This year, it's expected to surpass $4 billion.
Relatedly, revenue for prefabricated metal building manufacturing was a bit higher, coming in $6.2 billion in 2012, with experts predicting it'll exceed $8 billion by the end of this year.
While it may seem like prefabricated buildings aren't quite dominating the construction market yet, the sector is actually poised to grow quickly this year. On the Thomasnet.com platform, searches for prefabricated buildings have already grown 64% year-over-year and 142% over last quarter averages.
In a 2020 Prefabrication and Modular Construction report, 61% of survey respondents said they plan to utilize prefabricated construction elements in at least 10% of their projects over the next three years, which is a substantial increase from the 44% who say they already employ prefab approaches. Considering that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says in 2018 alone the construction industry spent close to $1.3 trillion and employed almost 9 million production workers, there’s clearly a great deal of opportunity in the sector.
As project timelines shrink, skilled workers become harder to find, and costs increase across the construction sector, prefabricated options are becoming even more appealing to architects, engineers, and contractors. Prefabricated buildings allow project leaders to reduce waste, improve cost predictability, and speed production processes compared to more traditional construction methods – in some cases, up to 80% faster than conventional approaches.
One recent example of the expediency of prefabricated construction is the Huoshenshan Hospital, a medical facility in Wuhan, China, built in just 10 days to care for coronavirus patients. The 645,000 square-foot, two-story hospital is made of prefab insulated panels and is large enough to hold 1,000 beds. Close to 4,000 people worked on the project to finalize construction and make the hospital fully functional within the extremely condensed timeframe.