Find out if prefabricated bathroom pods can be a good fit for your traditionally built project.
Modular units can be a great time- and budget-saving tool for owners and developers. In our previous modular series, we focused on factory manufactured guestroom boxes, also known as volumetric modular units. In this article—which kicks off a 3-week series on modular components—our modular expert Nate Loeffelholz explains how prefabrication can help your traditionally built hotels, multifamily units, and senior living facilities.
The first question you might have is: What are bathroom pods and how are they different from mainstream modular construction? The answer is in their flexibility. While bathroom pods are modular and factory-made, they can be used in any traditionally built project if planned. Why opt for these pods? In contrast to traditional bathroom construction methods, bathroom pods consolidate more than 10 construction trades into one prefabricated product. This means reduced reliance on trade workers and fewer headaches for the developer and contractor!
- A bathroom pod is a factory made, turn-key bathroom unit, which is fully fitted and plumbed, delivered to the construction site, and ready to use.
- The on-site crews simply connect the pods to the main mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in the corridors and pods above/below.
- Utilizing bathroom pods replaces the traditional build process, which requires on-site coordination of numerous items, processes, and professionals.
- Modular bathroom pods can be especially valuable for hotel construction projects where the many bathrooms being built are often exact replicas of each other.
- As seen in the auto industry, efficient production lines result in improved predictability in terms of time, quality of product, and cost.
- Design & Production: Bathroom pods are custom designed according to the individual characteristics of each guestroom or room unit. Large repeatable components located in a stacked configuration increase the efficiency of installation and connection to mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
- Delivery & Installation: Assembled pods arrive at the job sites via truck and are raised to their floor, moved into final position, and lowered into place without interference.
- Final Set & Connection: The finishing stage of the prefabricated shell begins with the installation of plumbing and electrical systems and concludes with testing, cleaning, and quality control.
- Modular bathroom pods come with integrated and pretested connections. The plumber and electrician have to establish only a few connections to the building MEP lines.
- Domestic water piping comes pre-installed with bathroom fixtures. Only a single Hot/Cold connection is required for water supply to the pod.
- Similarly, all electrical components are wired to a single lighting/GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) whip. These whips may be uncoiled and wired to panels/junction boxes in the room.
- Early in design, shower/tub drains should be laid out on the bedroom and hollow way, or accessible side, of the pod.
- Once the MEP connections are complete, the pod may be framed in and drywalled into the guestroom.
- Production precision: One of the main reasons for choosing bathroom pods is their assembly line production. In factory, individual parts are produced and completed by corresponding trade specialists, so the pods come together with high quality and precision fittings.
- Less work and wastage: This method minimizes the project punch list, decreases waste, reduces material deliveries, and keeps the site clean.
- Time, ease, and quality: The modular bathroom units are easy to lift, place, and connect so that the project developer reduces time and production costs while improving bathroom quality for hotel owners and guests.
- Saved headaches: Working through the details of bathrooms one time saves developers time and headaches. Instead of trying to coordinate and schedule several crews in the small spaces, bathroom pods arrive at the hotel construction site ready for installation.
- If using bathroom pods fits the demands of your project, you can experience cost efficiency and savings.
- Bathrooms typically account for at least 6-10% of the capital cost of a hotel, so prefabricating them can mean significant savings depending on the project location, construction type, and construction schedule.
- Since bathrooms are designed specifically for each hotel type, pod costs vary according to project specifications.
- Pod manufacturers, such as Old Castle and Pivotek, can provide developers an estimate of the installed cost of each component.
On a direct cost basis, bathroom pods can be cost-neutral, although they add value with their assembly-line, high quality result. With the current and prevalent high labor shortage, bathroom pods may improve your budget by speeding up your timelines. When comparing costs of modular bathrooms with traditional builds, it’s important to factor in the FF&E specifications, installation charges, material delivery costs, and local labor affordability.
Interested or have questions? Feel free to reach me!
Senior Director- Architecture/Modular Design