Modular construction is a way of building through the use of modules that are constructed in a factory and assembled on-site. Modular units can be used for any type of application, from entire houses to apartments to site huts, and more recently, home offices. In fact, the pandemic has seen a big increase in the demand for modular building.

Arthur O’Brien, Managing Director of C+W O’Brien Architects (, one of the leading modular design architects in Ireland and Europe, says, “Modular building has always been around. However, in light of recent discussion regarding significant increases to traditional construction cost methods resulting from Covid-19, it is more important than ever that we start to look beyond traditional construction methods.

“Off-site and modular construction allows the delivery of projects to continue at a faster pace. The production and delivery of large-scale construction projects, through modular construction, will meet the enormous challenges of Covid-19. We will see significantly fewer operatives on-site, as they are replaced with construction workers in factory-controlled, safe working environments, producing modular pods and buildings more economically than traditional construction.

“There is no compromise in the quality of construction or, more importantly, the design quality and appearance of the completed project.”

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Award-winning C+W O’Brien Architects has built module units for a number of projects such as student housing and hotels, where each unit is often similar and repeatable. “The units are built in the factory and then transported to the site, and stacked together to create a student housing building or hotel, for example. The construction time is quicker and involves much less disruption, with highquality design.”

And now, people are starting to see the benefits of choosing a modular unit, whether that’s as their home, or a home office. Local authorities in Dublin and elsewhere plan to build another 1,400 modular homes by 2023, with more to follow, according to the Department of Housing.

“Modular homes are becoming very popular,” says Arthur. “MHI, a leading construction company in Ireland, has completed a site of modular homes in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath. In a matter of days, the houses were on-site. Dublin City Council, and several approved housing bodies, are putting out tenders for modular social housing, which is becoming very popular. C+W O’Brien Architects are working to deliver some of these social housing modular projects.

“It’s becoming easier to get modules, with many Irish and European factories creating them, and it’s much safer during Covid-19, as there aren’t as many people working on-site.”

Arthur adds, “Even my sister-in-law has invested in a modular home. She decided to downsize from her own house into a two-bed modular unit in the back garden of her son and daughter-in-law’s house. It’s becoming very common.”


With more people working from home, modular units are being used as home offices. According to the latest CSO labour force survey, the numbers reporting their home as the primary place of work had risen from less than 5pc before the pandemic, to almost 28pc by November. However, Arthur advises anybody investing in a modular unit to research any planning permission requirements. According to the Citizen’s Information site (, generally you will not need planning permission for a garage or room built at the back or side of a house, so long as it does not extend out in front of the building line of the house and does not exceed four metres in height (if it has a tiled/slated pitched roof ) or three metres (if it has any other roof type). This building will be exempt from planning permission once the floor area of all additional structures is limited to 25sq metres.

Arthur says, “In most circumstances, you do not need planning permission for a garden shed or garage, but it’s vital to seek the advice of an architect, or at least speak to your local town planning office. Particularly if you plan on living in the unit.

“The person who’s producing your garden office or your garden outbuilding will also be able to tell you all the restrictions that apply.”

REF: Irish Independent

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