What’s the Difference Between a Temporary and Permanent Building?

The quick answer to this is one can be used temporarily and one can’t, but unless you are leasing space off-site how can a building be used temporarily? The answer is that it all comes down to the design, specification and construction process of a building. Bricks and mortar creates permanence, lightweight metals create temporary usage.

Temporary buildings are called as such because they can be hired. So, a building would turn up on your site, be installed by the supplier, a hire agreement signed and then the building removed at the end of the period. Temporary buildings vary in design and use, but the overriding similarity is that they are manufactured off-site, which makes them prefabricated as well as temporary!

Not all prefabricated buildings can be hired though. Many steel structures are manufactured at the factory but can only be purchased as they need considerable ground- preparation and offer a long-term solution akin to a permanent building.

Temporary buildings usually fall into two different types. Modular cabin type structures that arrive as a complete finished ‘box’ and are literally craned into place onto some basic type of foundation. Or, an industrial temporary building that comes almost like a ‘flat-pack’ with the frame ready to be craned into place section by section. The former is often used for public facilities such as offices or classrooms. The latter is more industrial use including warehousing, workshop space or loading cover.

These industrial temporary buildings are very different to a permanent industrial building in many ways. The design is minimal; in fact you could call them ‘off-the-shelf’. There is a choice of materials but they are basic offering varying levels of insulation. Although coloured wall and roof panels are available to fit in with corporate branding or planning requirements, the aesthetics are not really top of the agenda. Most of the time they don’t need any kind of ground preparation as they can be constructed onto existing level ground. And although they can legitimately be used long-term or even instead of a permanent building, they may need wall and roof panels replacing over time.

It’s the minimalist design and simple construction process of these industrial temporary buildings that obviously create significant savings in terms of time and cost. When compared like for like to a new build you could easily shave 6 months off a project and save up to 70% in upfront costs.That doesn’t mean that they are suitable for every application though. Heating a building is now a hot topic, literally! Energy efficiency is vital and a temporary building being heated around the clock could not stand up to the efficiencies of a traditional building. It is for this reason that the use does remain predominantly industrial.

Lastly, the difference between a temporary and permanent building doesn’t always come down to physical attributes but rather business objectives, available resource and sometimes personal preference.

So there are a lot of differences in material, construction methods and how they are used but in the challenging business world of today it’s good to have the choice.