Analysis

Challenging traditional thinking through innovative solutions

Sadig Abuagla explains why contractors and developers are adopting off-site building solutions

 

With the construction in the Middle East finally recovering and seeing a growth economy, it’s the construction professionals who are willing to try new things and explore new technologies that are going to succeed.  Finding a more affordable and efficient way to build is the main priority for construction companies in the Middle East today. Contractors and developers are adopting off-site building solutions to have more control over cost and quality, as well as a means to achieve significant time saving.

Unipods is one of the leading companies in off-site construction technology in the GCC, specialized in bathroom pods and kitchen manufacture. Unipods is a member of the Al Rajhi Holding a Saudi-based Group with investments in many companies across the United Arab Emirates. Sadig Abuagla, Unipods’s head of marketing, argues that Unipods modular bathrooms, offer the best of both traditional and modular construction since they provide the advantages of modular construction, but can also be easily integrated within traditional construction projects.

Since bathrooms are one of the most complicated and time-sensitive part of a construction project, building with bathroom pods will provide many advantages such as reducing a construction schedule by 20-30%. Other advantage of pods is the fact that they can be built off site, saving valuable installation time on site, and ensuring consistently high quality levels. This means that contractors can meet more demanding build schedules and there is less need for skilled labor.

The age-old problem of coordinating services, such as plumbing, electrics, plastering, tiling, joinery and painting is no longer an issue. All the services are installed before the pod is delivered, and decoration is also carried out off site. All the need to be done on site is to crane the bathroom pods into position and connect them up.

Unipods’ latest project “ARAC Hotel” was the first hotel in Makkah, KSA to use bathroom pods and is a good example of the benefits that Unipods is capable of providing to their clients. Construction in Makah requires an extensive amount of time rock- drilling due to the terrain; therefore, using a bathroom pod shortens their completion time by two to three months.

Abuagla says ARAC Hotel is one of the many successful projects executed in the Middle East; moreover, UNIPODS is expanding beyond this region into new growing markets such as, India, where UNIPODS currently supply bathroom pods for both Premier Inn hotels in Pune and Goa.

Though prefabricated bathroom units are seen as a relatively new concept, they have in fact been used successfully by the off -site construction industry for some time.  In fact, Europe has been building with modular bathrooms for over 30 years and most commercial contractors in Europe refuse to build without them.

“Our biggest challenge has been to convince clients to use bathroom pods instead of traditional built bathrooms. However, our formers clients have been very pleased with the concept and requesting the use of modular bathroom pods for their upcoming projects.”  Abuagla added.

“A common perception in the Middle East is that modular construction forces the use of generic fixtures and that control over design is lost, but that doesn’t reflect the way construction technology has advanced,” Abuagla insists.

All of Unipods’s modular bathrooms are built to the client’s exact specifications, including the size of the bathroom, the layout, and the fixtures and finishes in the bathroom as well.

It would seem that completely customizable, fully-equipped, factory-made bathroom pods are the wave of the future and can help builders increase efficiency and decrease costs, the only question is whether construction professionals will take the plunge and try something new.

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