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The History of Prefabricated Buildings

Posted by admin on November 20, 2019

Prefabricated and modular buildings have a surprisingly rich history behind them. They also go back further than you might easily think.

It’s easy to imagine, due to the immediacy of modern culture and our growing concern over the environment, that they are more of a recent invention for construction sites.

But they came about a number of decades ago and have been used in Britain as an effective building strategy ever since. 

Below, we have put together a brief account on the history of prefabricated constructions and why we continue to use it to this day. 

Mesopotamian Methods

The earliest known prefabricated methods date as far back as Mesopotamian times, as long ago as 2090 BC. 

It would seem that the inhabitants of this ancient region in Western Asia thought that making materials before construction was much more efficient and timely than other buildings methods, which we can’t help but agree with.

Sadly, no examples of these prefabricated buildings stand today, but more archaeological digs may find more of them, even if it’s just the foundations.

They could help in uncovering more about how the Mesopotamians worked as a society and how we could implement those methods into modern construction methods. 

Roman Forts

The Romans, too, were known to prefabricate their forts before official construction began. With their concrete aqueducts and tunnels, they would use pre-made moulds to create uniform blocks for a more efficient design. 

This comes as no surprise as, like Mesopotamia, the Romans were quite an advanced civilisation for the time and used this method throughout their empire. 

Unlike the Mesopotamian variety, many of these structures still stand today and, in some cases, are fully functional, proving the enduring natures and high quality of prefabricated construction projects. 

Colonial Times

Skipping forward a few centuries, the earliest known prefabricated construction in western society was in 1603 where framed houses were sent from London to Londonderry. 

That was only the start, however. Throughout the Industrial Revolution and well into the colonial era, plenty of temporary buildings were sent overseas to accommodate fishing villages in far-flung territories across the world. 

Even the Eiffel Tower is prefabricated. Each metal beam was carefully cast before being put together, allowing the iconic structure to be erected quickly and at half the cost. 

Like their Roman counterparts, many of these structures still stand today, some being of historical interest for many prefabricated construction enthusiasts. 


In the modern era, prefabricated buildings in the UK came about after the Second World War. It was a solution devised by the government to temporarily house those who lost their homes during the wartime bombings.

There was indeed a large housing crisis after the war but the prefabricated homes continued to be propped up well into the 1950s. 

Indeed, it was an enormous success. Between 145 and 1951, the coalition government propped up over £1.2million prefabricated homes. The succeeding Labour government managed to construct a further 300,000.

Some of these post-wartime prefabricated constructions still stand today, remaining a testament to a time where these “temporary” buildings were only meant to last ten years. 

Prefabricated Buildings Today

Ever since the war, prefabricated construction has continued to thrive. Throughout the 60s and 70s, they’ve made up a large portion of many housing projects and industrial complexes. 

However, due to the uniformity of these structures, they saw a dip in popularity during the 90s. Many thought that the efficient nature of these constructions tended to leave many constructions lacking in any character.

Perception changed once again during the 2000s when new companies began designing and implementing prefabricated construction with unique designs.

3D printing has only made this easier and, by 2016, the world’s first entirely modular skyscraper was built in China in just 19 days. 

The construction industry is lucky to have such methods of construction available to provide spaces at a reduced price but of exceedingly high quality. 

Quickway Prefabricated Buildings

At Quickway, we provide prefabricated, relocatable steel framed buildings for commercial and industrial purposes. 

They are environmentally friendly, cost-effective and other much more flexibility than many other building types.

Best yet, they are portable buildings, meaning they can be transported to another location, saving time and cost in building another project. 

View our building specifications and contact us today for your quote! 

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