December 15, 2021 / ,

How Much Does a Modular Classroom Cost?

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After many months of pandemic-fueled online learning, in-person class is back in session. In need of a temporary classroom or permanent extra space for your students or faculty? VESTA provides a variety of options to lease, finance, or purchase a modular classroom. 

Modular classrooms, sometimes referred to as portable classrooms, are great alternatives to traditional builds as they are less disruptive to the school environment and are much faster to install. The cost of modular classrooms varies greatly depending on a few factors, including room size, state-specific building permits, installation and site work, hook-up fees, and utility usage. 

Modular Classroom Cost Breakdowns

Size of the Classroom

We offer standard sizes for single and double classrooms, which are buildings with immediate entry. The standard classroom size is between 800–900 sq ft, with the rooms measuring 24 ft x 36 ft or 24 ft x 40 ft. This is a great option if your school has a quickly growing enrollment or if you need extra space to conduct class during an ongoing construction project. 

If your institution requires more than one or two classrooms, we also offer multi-building complexes for an additional cost. These commonly have four classrooms to begin but can house up to 12, making them great for accommodating multiple bathrooms, a teacher’s lounge, or administrative offices. These classroom setups include a separate corridor entry with a wing extending to the different rooms, providing a very spacious, professional environment.

Type of Classroom

The type of classroom and subsequent requirements can affect the cost. These include but are not limited to:

  • Classrooms with bathrooms: Plumbing costs will be added to classrooms that require running water and sewer lines. Some states do have mandatory bathroom requirements.
  • New or used classrooms: Pre-owned classrooms are quicker to mobilize and can offer savings over a new building, notably lowering the initial investment. New classrooms can be customized to fit your needs, for a price. 
  • Rooms with customizations: Added furnishing features, like outlets or plumbing for a school science lab, would cost more than a design for a basic classroom setup.

Permitting

While permitting varies from state to state, VESTA provides all of the required drawings and building plans (including site-specific plans). We are also able to submit plans to the necessary local or state building department for approval.

 In Michigan, for example, all education-based projects must go through the state, regardless of the institutions’ public or private status. In other states, the plans may be submitted to the local building department before receiving fire marshal approval through the state. 

We are happy to help coordinate the permitting process or work with your preferred architect to ensure the necessary documentation is delivered in a timely manner for submission. Post-installation, expect an inspection, which is a prerequisite to receiving the certificate of occupancy. 

Construction & Installation

The cost will certainly be impacted by the limited on-site construction and subsequent installation. VESTA will always handle the delivery and installation, whether your classroom is purchased or leased. For the rest of the site-specific work, like excavation, foundation, and utility lines, we can facilitate by working with local contractors.

Utility Costs

It can be difficult to pinpoint actual utility operating costs for any new build, whether traditional or modular, as the building would require a separate meter for accurate numbers. Still, it is known that classroom size, as well as location, will affect utility costs. 

For example, a classroom in a less varied climate won’t have as dramatic of temperature shifts as somewhere with frigid winters or scorching summers. While all classrooms will require electricity, only some may need water lines if a restroom is attached. 

New builds are at an advantage when it comes to utility costs as they are made to meet the current energy efficiency standards. This means a new modular classroom will be even more efficient than an existing school building in most cases.

Cost to Operate and Maintain a Modular Classroom

In terms of longevity, our buildings are built to last. Modular buildings are built to meet the same International Building Code (IBC) as site-built structures. VESTA also utilizes education-grade finishes and components that are designed for durability and ease of maintenance. With all of these features, you can expect a modular classroom to last at least 25–30 years. 

Used vs. New Modular Classroom Costs

While a new classroom will have a greater upfront cost, as stated above, newer buildings will be more energy efficient. It is worth noting that as the International Building Code (IBC) changes throughout the years, many buildings are grandfathered in and able to continue being occupied. In some states, however, this is not the case, so you want to check with your region before deciding on a refurbished building or a new building. 

It is safe to say a used modular classroom will always be more affordable and able to be covered by a limited budget than a new model built from scratch.

Modular Classroom Leasing Costs

A good rule of thumb is if you are looking to utilize a modular classroom for more than five years, it should be purchased. VESTA is a part of a few purchasing cooperatives, a great way for schools to bypass the bidding process. 

If you have a need for a more temporary set-up or are not looking to own your modular classroom, we do offer leasing options. An operating lease allows you to rent the building from us for as long as needed. 

If you want to rent to own the building, we recommend a financed lease. VESTA has dedicated partnerships with companies that specialize in the financing of modular buildings.

While it is dependent on the length of building usage, most classrooms are installed on a concrete pier foundation. For shorter use situations, a full foundation is not necessary, and plastic ABS foundation pads are allowed. Forgoing a concrete foundation is a surefire way to lower leasing costs, but this is again specific to local and state building authorities and what they determine as short term, whether that is six months or two years.

Modular Classroom Cost Case Studies

VESTA has supplied modular classroom buildings on a wide variety of projects, from buildings ranging in size from less than 1000 sq ft to over 100,000 sq ft. A recent disaster-response project in Louisiana saw the client save 30% as a result of utilizing refurbished buildings from our inventory.

We pride ourselves on creativity when it comes to our customers’ needs. In Flint, Michigan, the Genesee STEM Academy contacted VESTA for both temporary and permanent modular classrooms to fit their fast-growing program. Pre-owned buildings from our inventory provided a quick, cost-effective solution to their immediate need, and 14 permanent classrooms were developed and installed in a period of four short months.

The financial benefits of a modular build in comparison to a standard ground-up project are many, including lower soft costs as a result of a shorter construction timeline, cost certainty due to scheduled planning, and lower site-related costs, as modular builds are done off-site. 

Get a Custom Modular Classroom Cost Breakdown

Ready to get more space for your school with a modular classroom? Get a quote today for a modular education building that will fit your needs, as long as you need.

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