August 4, 2020 / ,

The Last Guide You’ll Ever Need For Modular Classrooms

George Gervin Perspectives R 2

If your school is in need of upgraded facilities, increased square footage, additional capacity for an influx of students, or just needing to accommodate a specialty classroom type that your school doesn’t currently have, it’s time to look at modular classroom options.

From leasing to buying, modular buildings offer the education sector efficient construction timelines, flexible leasing and purchasing options, and as much customization as traditional onsite construction. 

This guide is a dive into just how accommodating your next modular classroom building will be.


benefits of school portables


What is a modular classroom building? 

If you’re unfamiliar with modular classrooms, let’s do a brief overview. Already familiar with the modular building type? Scroll down to the next section for why schools buy them.

Modular classrooms refer to prefabricated school buildings that are built in standardized mobile unit sizes in an offsite, factory-like controlled environment. 

These mobile units for schools are easily transported anywhere in the world due to their convenient size, shape, and weight. Believe us when we tell you, we’ve quite literally transported buildings to some of the most remote locations on the planet.

And unlike common misconception, “modular classrooms” do not only refer to single and double classroom trailer buildings. They come in multiple sizes to accommodate the square footage needs of K-12 school districts and post-secondary institutions. 

This includes:

  • Temporary, on-demand, pre-built classroom units that are immediately available to ship and install.
  • PERMANENT modular built classrooms and educational facilities
  • Multi-classroom buildings with complex floor plans that include admin offices, classrooms, cafeteria, gymnasium, bathrooms, custodial closets, IT closets, and more.
  • Custom design and build solutions that can be attached to existing school buildings with matching building materials to create a seamless transition to the new school wing.
  • Customized entire school buildings that are designed, manufactured, delivered, and installed on your site.


Common names you might hear these buildings referred to as:

  • Modular Schools Buildings
  • Modular Classrooms
  • Portable Classrooms
  • School Portables
  • Classroom Trailers
  • Mobile Classrooms
  • Modular Classroom Wings and Complexes


Why do schools buy modular classrooms?

Most educational institutions lease and buy temporary modular classrooms due to a need to quickly add capacity while being budget conscious or build permanent facilities to minimize site interruptions and complete in a fraction of time compared to site built methods. 


Modular means timeline friendly!


Modular Construction Schedule vs Traditional Onsite Construction


As displayed above, modular construction for classrooms, or any building type for that matter, can drastically cut down on the construction timeline. While the onsite building process is nuanced with uncontrollable factors such as weather and labor shortages, it is estimated that modular construction can shorten your construction timeline significantly by eliminating the work required on site to complete.

It’s estimated that a modular building can be constructed and installed up to 50 percent quicker than traditional or stick-built construction methods.

In addition, for schools interested in temporary mobile classroom options that are already built, the time saved is even greater. In some cases, this option can result in the shipment and delivery of a classroom in as little as several weeks (sometimes shorter).

*These estimates change based on any required modifications, classroom unit availability, and the distance required to ship the classroom to your campus.


Major benefits of modular classrooms

The biggest benefits associated with using our classroom buildings are:

  • Diverse finance and contract options (Lease, Purchase, Co-op contracts)
  • Quickly add as many classrooms as you need for additional space to accommodate growing student populations
  • Built in a controlled environment using green construction standard materials
  • Classrooms can come complete with desks, marker boards, AV, and other finishes
  • Completely customizable with as many design options as stick-built construction
  • Allows for seamless impact to your existing site and facilities
  • Fitted to accommodate any type of class from chemistry labs, computer labs, to standard classroom solutions.


Choosing between permanent modular classrooms and temporary ones

The first decision you’ll need to make is whether your modular classroom is going to be a permanent fixture for your school or a temporary space solution.


Understanding temporary and relocatable portable classrooms

If your school building is currently under construction and you’ll be needing classroom space for a limited time, then you’ll want to look at portable classrooms for rent. 

School classroom trailers ensure that students have access to a clean, well-lit learning environment for as long as you need them. And they’re not just for single-wide or double-wide trailer classrooms. Some of our clients are surprised to learn that you can lease large-scale modular school complexes. These include code compliant multi-classroom buildings with bathrooms, offices, cafeterias, and recreational spaces.

Modular classroom suppliers like VESTA Modular have thousands of pre-built modules, ready to go, in their inventory all over the United States. We can combine existing modules to create a custom assembly building solution to solve your building needs.


Lease and co-op options:

Most modular building suppliers require at least a 12-month lease on a standard type of building. It’s common for public schools, however, to lease classrooms for 5 or more years due to relatively fixed budgets and annualized appropriations.

Public schools can also take advantage of cooperative purchase agreements that allow for shared use and transport of buildings amongst neighboring school districts, or piggyback contracts.


Estimated lifespan of a temporary modular classroom

Despite being labeled as “temporary,” most portable classroom units are still extraordinarily durable and built to last as long as site-built structures. The average building will last 25-30 years and longer with regular maintenance and upkeep.

*We always recommend consulting a modular classroom expert when attempting to determine whether a temporary or permanent solution is right for you. While temporary solutions might seem attractive initially, your specific needs and long-term goals can make a permanent construction project the better option.


Permanent modular classrooms

If you decide that you would like to use a long term building solution, then we recommend shopping for a permanent modular classroom. The difference between temporary and permanent buildings are the types of materials used in the foundations and frame of the building. Structural reinforcements are also made of higher quality materials and denser components.

Permanent classrooms cost more to build up front, but they can be cost effective if you need the building for more than a few years.

Another way to think about the saved costs is to compare them to traditional onsite construction costs. The additional time that traditional construction often takes to complete an on-site project means that the students can’t use that building’s space. Time spent outside means additional costs for leased space or increased classroom sizes.


Estimated length of the classroom’s life:

Permanent modular classrooms are no different than a site built structure in how long the building can last, in fact, modular buildings typically have 30% more materials in comparison.  This gives the building added structural integrity as well as better sound transmission control between classrooms.

A permanent modular building is equipped to last a lifetime if built with the proper materials and maintained properly over the course of its use. The Modular Building Institute states that modular construction not only meets the same expected lifetime of traditional builds, but exceeds it.


Frequently asked questions about our classrooms


How much does a modular classroom cost?

Permanent classrooms cost anywhere from $75 a square foot to $150 a square foot depending on location, size, layout, and finishes as desired.

The temporary structures are typically done as a lease and can range in cost per month based on location, length of lease, size of building, and any other requirements that you may need.  If you’re interested in lease pricing, give VESTA a call to speak with one of the in house experts to guide you in the right direction. 

When you’re estimating the total cost of a permanent classroom facility be sure to consider the price of preparing the site, connecting necessary utilities, the number of classrooms, the complexity of design, customization of interior and exterior materials, and necessary furnishings.

*Beware of cost aggregator websites that promise lower prices than the industry standard. While they do sometimes provide a way to calculate the price, they can grab prices from across the globe and in different regions of the U.S. than where your school is located.


Will my classroom building look like a normal building or will it look like a trailer?

One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is whether the classroom units are going to look like trailers or if they will look like a “normal” building. We know exactly what you’re asking, and the answer is simple:

You can customize the appearance of your building however you like, with any materials that you would be able to with site-built construction solutions. The simplest, unfinished version of classroom modules are composed of the standard layouts you often see.

Modular building companies like VESTA provide turnkey solutions in adding onsite construction scopes of work or specific finishing materials that you may want.


What are the most popular classroom buildings and their dimensions?

When we spoke with our sales team, the categories below were what they identified as the most common requests made by school administrations.


Single classroom buildings:


Modular Classroom: Single Room ExampleExample of Single Modular Classroom Interior


The most popular reason given for requesting buildings in this size range is that the school needs to quickly and temporarily expand to meet the need of a swift influx of students.

A single classroom can make all the difference for a small change in overall attendance or to accommodate a temporary construction project.

The 24 ft. by 36 ft. classroom fits a handicap accessible restroom. The usable classroom space is 745 sq. ft. It is equipped with a 3.5 ton HVAC system for full temperature control. 

*As the floor plan below indicates, it is also social-distancing friendly for up to 12 students and a teacher.


Standard single classroom with bathroom floor plan:

Single Mobile Classroom Floor plan w/handicap bathroom

Social distance accommodations layout:

Social Distance Safe Floor plan for Classrooms


Double classroom buildings:


One Side of A Double Classroom Building


The 23 ft. 6 inch by 70 ft. building can be divided up to efficiently fit two classrooms. If you choose, they will also comfortably accommodate two handicap bathrooms for those that request this option.

As you can see by the floor plans below, wall and room layouts can be situated to accommodate your needs. We typically layout restrooms next to each for efficient plumbing hook ups. Like your single classroom buildings, each room will also come equipped with an HVAC system, and is social distance ready.


Standard double classroom floor plans:


Example Floor Plans for 2 Classroom Modular Buildings with and without bathrooms


Social distance accomodations layout:


Pandemic and CDC Guideline Layout for Classrooms


8 classroom building and school building extensions:


8 Classroom Modular School

Backside View of Modular 8 Classroom Building Example Classroom Layout Inside


Our standardized, 8-classroom building can function as a beautiful, customizable standalone building, or we can build it on as an addition to your already existing school infrastructure. 

With spacious classrooms, the 70 ft. by 96 ft. building comes equipped with full size public restrooms, plenty of emergency exits, and HVAC systems for student and staff comfort.


8 classroom floor plan:


8 Classroom Floor Plan


12+ classroom building:


Modular Classroom Featuring 12 rooms - portable school High School Modular Classroom Interior

For administrators that desire a standalone, 12 classroom school building, our most popular large building features everything you’ll need. The 176 ft. by 62 ft school building features hallways, needed closets, public restrooms, temperature controls and spacious, well-lit classrooms.


Standard 12 classroom building floor plan:


12 Classroom Floor Plan For Whole School


Do they come with bathrooms?

Yes, modular classrooms can come with bathrooms as requested by your district and as may be required by federal, state, and local code requirements. 

This includes any specifications for ADA compliance and handicap accessibility.

In a more defined explanation: 

Single classrooms, depending on where they’re located and the age of the students who will be using them, will be fitted with a bathroom. 

As an example: K-5 classrooms are required by law for bathrooms to be present. 

For classrooms intended for older students, public bathroom access can be down the hall or within a certain stated proximity from a classroom. This means that you can choose whether you’d like a bathroom installed for certain units.


Can I combine my modular classroom with other rooms?

Due to the standardization of most modules, our modular classrooms can be combined to make a complex building structure with many functions. This means that you can install: 

  • Foyers 
  • Restrooms
  • Administrative school offices 
  • Cafeterias
  • Student dormitories
  • Janitorial and custodial closets
  • IT closets
  • Teachers’ lounges

Additionally, with flexible leasing and convenient installation, you can add another classroom building at any time.


What should I do if I’m interested in a modular classroom?

If you’re interested in finding modular classrooms for sale or rent, then click the button below to “Request A Quote”. Our modular experts would love to get in contact with you to answer any questions you might have.


Modular classroom case studies

Below are several of our classroom related projects. Visit our education building page for more on modular school buildings and to see more of our portfolio.




Ann Arbor Public Schools Project Overview




When Ann Arbor Public Schools began experiencing huge student population growth, they quickly ran out of classroom space. Their school system added 600 new students for the 2018-2019 school year.

We added a total of 16 new floors between two different school sites for the Ann Arbor School District.

These additions totaled 16,576 square feet and included modular classrooms, restrooms, offices, janitorial closets, and IT closets. The project was delivered on time and within budget so that the schools were ready to serve their students.







Michigan Genesee Modular Classrooms Project Overview



Genesee STEM Academy needed modular classrooms to accommodate an influx of new students. They needed both a temporary and a permanent solution to this problem.

First, we were able to quickly provide the school with a temporary solution from our available fleet. These temporary classrooms met the need during the design, engineering, and manufacturing of the permanent addition of 14 more classrooms.

We also built out the permanent addition at the school that included large classrooms, science and technology rooms, and restroom facilities for over 200 students and faculty.

We joined the existing facility to the new school buildings giving the entire building a consistent appearance.

The full project was completed in LESS THAN ONE SEMESTER.






Georgia Modular Classroom Project





The International Montessori Academy (IMA) in Atlanta, Georgia had a new cohort of students set to enter the school in May 2018. They had a timeline of 90 days and not enough classroom space for the new students.

We handled the project from start to finish, including the design of the modular classrooms and the installation on-site.

The project was finished with time to spare in less than 90 days, and IMA saw no disruption to its students or faculty.








Florida Modular Classroom Project Specs.




Reborn Christian Academy in Kissimmee, Florida needed additional classroom space. The academy originally thought that it needed 10 modular classrooms at 24 ft. x 36 ft. each. We performed a site visit with the pastor, and our modular site experts recommended a slightly different configuration.

By utilizing our recommendations, the academy was able to increase security and lower its costs. We limited the number of electrical connections, ramps, and entrances to provide a solution that better fit the needs of Reborn Christian Academy students and staff.

In total, the project was more than 10,000 square feet across 13 buildings.





Social distance and coronavirus accommodations for schools

We have dedicated staff that are watching CDC recommendations and school timelines across the country due to Covid-19. If you’re in a state or municipality that will be returning to school promptly, a modular classroom plan can help solve spacing and square footage issues in time for this next school year.

As you can see from our floor plans above, we’ve already begun designing layouts with your students and teachers in mind. Please contact us for recommendations and additional space needs, and we’d be happy to arrange a CDC compliant modular campus for you.


Want more info?

For more commonly asked questions and featured posts related to school buildings, visit our blog page to see everything from design inspiration, types of building options, and so much more.

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