Pre-fabricated construction is finding a small but growing niche in commercial real estate.

Using CAD (computer-aided design), it's now possible to build the components of an office building, a retail store, or even a hospital in a factory and then assemble the parts on site. Doing so yields much lower costs, little downtime, and a higher degree of architectural detail.

Why pre-fab construction?

I saw an article in Forbes about the snap-together construction of office buildings, schools, and even convenience stores like 7-Elevens. The giant health care provider Kaiser Permanente is now even building some of its medical buildings in factories.

These kinds of commercial buildings are built in components and shipped IKEA-style in flat crates. Then all the pieces are hooked together onsite and you get a more solid and environmentally-friendly building than you would with traditional sticks-up building.

I've long been fan of commercial prefab. But right now, this only accounts for 1.5% of commercial construction. Yet it will grow slowly over time. And there will come a time when there will have to be very special circumstance for anybody to consider doing a building sticks up!

This is a massive rethink of how construction is done and it will save so much energy, money, and time.

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Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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