Prefab Student Housing & Modular Dorms For Lease Or Purchase

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    April 18, 2022

    Prefab Student Housing & Modular Dorms For Lease Or Purchase

    Many of us have been on college and university campuses and experienced the chaos that ensues from large-scale traditional construction projects. They take a long time to complete, slow vehicle traffic, reroute student walking pathways and pose significant risks to the environment and passersby.

    We’re here to let you know that university administrators no longer need to subject their guests to this less-than-ideal experience. Thanks to the prefab and modular construction industry, building student housing is significantly more convenient, affordable, and quick to build. According to estimates, modular construction is 30% to 50% faster than stick-built construction methods.

    Educational leaders should consider modular dorm buildings for their next purchases—Mobile Modular offers modular dormitory housing for universities and colleges interested in a more affordable modular space solution.

    What is a Modular Dorm?

    Modular dorms are student housing made of prefabricated buildings. Instead of going through the long, arduous process of a traditional university construction project, modular dorms allow universities to build student housing that is:

    • Fast: It’s estimated that modular construction is 30–50% faster than more traditional construction methods.
    • Customizable: The modular design of prefab student housing allows you to connect, stack, and combine modules in unique ways, depending on your student housing needs. Choose your interior and exterior material options, floor plan layouts, fixtures, and amenities to match existing campus buildings or stand out as something new.
    • Green: Modular buildings tend to be more environmentally friendly than traditionally constructed buildings due to their efficient construction and transportation methods. They can also be constructed specifically to meet LEED certification guidelines.

    More Quick Facts About Modular Dorms

    • They are student housing produced using prefabricated construction methods. A modular dorm is made up of volumetric units that are efficiently assembled in a factory-like setting. It’s easiest to think of a building module as a single LEGO® piece that will be used in the final building.
    • Modular dorms are shipped to campuses utilizing the most convenient method of transportation. Typically, that means using trucks and trailers. But using rail and freighters, you can deliver a building in any remote location you want!
    • There is an infinite number of customizations to modular dorms. Choose your interior and exterior material options, custom designs, and floor plan layouts, as well as fixtures and amenities.
    • The terms modular, prefabricated, portable, and mobile do not mean bland, repetitive, fixed, or “cookie-cutter.” In fact, modular dorms can bring some of the most cutting-edge designs to campuses looking to freshen up their student housing.

    Types of Modular Dorms

    Permanent College Dorm Buildings

    The expectations for university dorm buildings have changed over recent decades. Today’s dorms need space and a variety of amenities to meet the needs of the 21st-century student, including things like:

    • Multiple charging ports in convenient locations
    • IT closets
    • Energy-efficient community bathrooms or ensuite bathrooms
    • Study rooms and quiet spaces
    • Workout rooms and gym facilities (including modular locker rooms)
    • Gaming rooms
    • Lounges and kitchenettes

    With modular student housing, you can create a college dorm that meets the needs of your current student body, not the students of 50 or 100 years ago. However, you don’t have to lose the charm of an old campus for the sake of modernity and convenience. Our modular dorms offer custom roofing and siding materials to match any existing structures.

    Temporary Housing for Students

    Many universities offer summer programs, athletic camps, seminars, and honors retreats for current students, prospective students, faculty, and community members. Whether your college is hosting a weeks-long event or currently experiencing an influx of freshmen, you may need temporary housing for your guests or students.

    Modular dorms offer a perfect temporary housing solution with flexible leasing options. Because standardized modules can be assembled in almost any way possible, they are great for creating any type of portable dormitory space you might need. Restrooms, offices, and lobbies can be easily connected to existing modules to meet the needs of the university.

    Our team at Mobile Modular can help you determine the best layout, number of units, and recommended site on your school grounds for the number of students or guests you intend to temporarily house.

    Modular Dorm Layout Options

    Single Wide Housing Layouts 

    We offer four different types of single-wide dormitory housing, including:

    • Duplex studio: This layout includes two separate studio living units, each with 1 bed, 1 bath, a kitchen, a living room, and a dining room. Each studio is 280 square feet.
    • 2 bed, 2 bath: This layout includes two bedrooms, each with a private bath, and a shared kitchen, living, and dining room. It is 560 square feet.
    • 5 bed, 5 bath VIP: This layout includes 5 private bedrooms with private bathrooms. There are exterior doors to each bedroom.
    • 5 bed, 5 bath with kitchen: This layout includes 5 bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, as well as a shared common space with a kitchen and living area.

    Multi-Unit Housing Layouts

    We offer two options for multi-unit housing layouts:

    • 30-bed VIP dorm: This layout houses 30 students in private rooms, each with a restroom. A shared laundry facility is included.
    • 44-bed dorm: This layout houses 44 students in double-occupancy rooms with Jack/Jill restrooms. A shared laundry facility is included.

    Our 44-bed dorm multi-housing dimensions include:

    • 29 ft by 229 ft residence hall
    • 3 exits and entrances
    • 5 ft wide hallways
    • 12 ft by 18 ft double-occupancy dorm rooms with restroom

    Custom Dorm Layouts

    More and more postsecondary institutions across the United States and internationally have come to love permanent modular construction. These residence halls provide your institution with the ability to affordably shelter your entire student body. University construction often must be able to integrate with the mood and feel of its old campus. Thanks to customization in roofing and siding materials, your new dorm can match any existing structures.

    Mobile Modular offers custom dorm layouts, such as our 3-apartment, 7-bedroom housing unit. This layout consists of more traditional apartment layouts, complete with kitchens and living areas, as opposed to a traditional wing of dorm rooms.

    This custom dorm layout contains 3 separate independent apartment units:

    • One apartment has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a kitchen/living/dining area.
    • The other two apartments have 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and a kitchen/living/dining area.

    Benefits of Modular Dorm Buildings

    Modular buildings are a fast, cost-effective solution for student housing. Delayed inspections, labor shortages, and stalled supply chains caused by the pandemic have slowed traditional construction on a national level. Instead of waiting months or even years just to get started on your campus building projects, modular student housing provides a simple, effective solution.

    Fast Assembly

    Prefab student housing is a fast, efficient way to increase your campus capacity. Instead of disrupting your students’ studies with months-long construction projects, modular dorms are built offsite at our facilities. Then, once the building is finished, it is transported and installed on your campus.

    Modular dorms are even faster when purchasing or leasing used models. At Mobile Modular, we often have multiple student dorm buildings in our inventory that are ready and available for transportation and installation.

    Minimal Site Interruption 

    Traditional construction sites are notoriously large polluters in a variety of ways:

    • Noise pollution: Machinery on construction sites can create intense levels of sound that may not just disrupt student life, but also result in lifelong consequences, such as increased stress, loss of sleep, and a greater risk for heart problems.
    • Air pollution: Did you know that more than half of all job-related cancers occur in men within the construction industry? On-site construction can exacerbate respiratory issues for anyone close enough to breathe in the dust, fibers, and fumes. Students with existing conditions such as asthma could be particularly affected.
    • Water pollution: The diesel and oil used by heavy machinery on construction site projects could potentially contaminate local water supplies.

    With prefab student housing, these concerns are almost completely eliminated. The modular dorms are assembled offsite, lowering the risk to your student body. Then, the buildings are transported and installed on campus by professionals who will do everything in their power to minimize potential pollutants.


    Traditional dorm construction projects can quickly exceed their budgets. However, with prefab student housing, there are no unforeseen change orders on the building costs. Once the contract is in place, the factory costs are fixed.

    With modular dorm buildings, you can also keep costs down by selecting a used model instead of building a new dorm from scratch. Even if you do choose a new model, you can look into leasing the building instead of buying it outright, especially if it is only needed for five years or less.

    Incredible Structural Integrity 

    The streamlined, indoor construction process that is modular building ensures the structures are more durable and of higher quality than traditionally built buildings.

    Leed Certified 

    Most universities have decades-old buildings that simply aren’t up to code with current energy standards. By choosing a modular building, you can ensure that your students live in an energy-efficient, LEED-certified dorm.

    Modular Student Housing Process

    Mobile Modular handles every step of the process.

    • Dorm room design: Interested in a custom dorm configuration? We are happy to help create a space that encompasses every need, and then some. Before we begin the build, we will help you to acquire the necessary state and local permits.
    • Modular dorm construction: Our buildings are made off-site, in a climate-controlled factory setting. You never have to worry that the date of your build will be pushed back due to bad weather or lack of materials—modular building with Mobile Modular makes the process smoother and ensures deadlines are met.
    • Modular dorm transportation & installation: Once your modular structures are built, we will load them via crane and deliver them to your site. After installation, your organization will be responsible for turning on utilities. Once this is complete, your building is ready to use!

    How Much Does It Cost To Build A Modular Dorm?

    The cost of a modular dorm varies based on the particulars of a specific building. However, there are some standard factors you’ll want to consider:

    • New vs. used: Mobile Modular offers an inventory of existing modular buildings to purchase or lease. These are typically less expensive than building a new model from scratch.
    • Purchased vs. leased: For temporary student housing, it is often less expensive to choose an operating lease from Mobile Modular. This essentially allows you to rent the building for as long as you need it. You may also choose a financed lease, in which you lease with the intention of owning.
    • Delivery and installation: There will always be a cost for delivering and installing the building that is separate from the purchasing or rental fee of a new or used model. Keep in mind that this also includes the laying of a foundation.
    • Permits: Mobile Modular can submit necessary documents to local or state authorities for permits, or we can share them with university administrators or architects so they can submit them on their own.
    • Utilities: Modular student dorms will need to be connected to necessary utilities, such as plumbing, sewer, and electricity.
    • Size: The cost for a small unit of temporary student housing will inevitably be less expensive than the cost of a large, permanent dormitory.
    • Add-ons: Many universities also want additional features for their new student housing, such as landscaping or new sidewalks. Keep in mind the additional costs of these anticipated features when getting a quote.

    Modular buildings are the most cost-effective way to receive an impeccably crafted structure for your students.

    Other Modular Educational Products

    Modular buildings offer a variety of solutions for educators at every level. Many schools and universities also use modular buildings for:

    • Classrooms
    • Restrooms
    • Campus churches
    • Medical clinics and/or research labs
    • Dining halls
    • Offices

    Modular student housing isn’t just about offering students a place to sleep. Prefabricated dorms offer the whole dorm or residence hall experience. They offer a place for communities to form and recreational activities to be enjoyed with new people. And let’s be honest, we all need spaces designed for functionality and a much-needed study break.

    Our modular dorms can be equipped with gaming rooms for students. We also can include handicap-accessible bathrooms, workout gym facilities, lounges, kitchenettes, IT closets, janitorial closets, and dining halls so that students and staff can enjoy all the best amenities on their own campus.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why are Prefab Dorms Quicker to Install? 

    One reason is that the off-site construction process allows for the site to be prepped while your dorm is being constructed elsewhere. This also expedites the permitting process and final installation process.

    There are many reasons why modular construction projects are quicker to install. For a more detailed explanation of this, check out our post on traditional vs. modular construction.

    The other reason is that thousands of temporary buildings and complexes are already assembled and housed across the country. We, at Mobile Modular, for example, can utilize our fleet of thousands of buildings that are ready to be transported to your college campus immediately.

    Is a Modular Dorm A More Environmental Solution For Our School?

    First, we’ll add that modular buildings can be constructed to meet all your LEED-certified criteria to keep energy usage and costs down. They can also be built using environmentally friendly materials.

    But perhaps the biggest argument for the environmental friendliness of modular construction is in the process.

    Since your building’s modules will be constructed in a factory environment, technicians and staff are less likely to lose or misplace materials. Everything is in one location so there aren’t multiple trips to gather building supplies. It also encourages the recycling and use of valuable leftover materials across projects.

    The transported modules can then be assembled quickly once they are on site since the majority of the time-consuming construction happens in the warehouse. That means that site disturbance and environmental tolls from continuous heavy machinery usage are kept to a minimum.

    Get A Quote On A Modular Dorm

    Interested in learning more about the benefits of modular dorms and prefab student housing? Reach out to our sales team to get a quote.

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