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Exploring the design risk factors for modular integrated construction projects

Ibrahim Yahaya Wuni (Department of Building and Real Estate, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Geoffrey Qiping Shen (Department of Building and Real Estate, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Maxwell Fordjour Antwi-Afari (Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 21 December 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2023




Modular integrated construction (MiC) is considered as a process innovation to improve the performance of construction projects. However, effective delivery of MiC projects requires management of risks and uncertainties throughout its delivery chain. Although the design stage of MiC projects is usually managed with limited knowledge based on highly uncertain data and associated with epistemic uncertainties, MiC design risks have not received adequate research attention relative to other stages. The purpose of this paper is to conduct a knowledge-based evaluation and ranking of the design risk factors (DRFs) for MiC projects.


The paper reviewed the relevant literature to identify potential DRFs and validated their relevance through pilot expert review. The paper then used questionnaires to gather data from international MiC experts from 18 countries and statistically analyzed the data set.


Analysis results showed that the five most significant DRFs for MiC projects include unsuitability of design for the MiC method; late involvement of suppliers, fabricators and contractors; inaccurate information, defective design and change order; design information gap between the designer and fabricator; and lack of bespoke MiC design codes and guidelines. A correlation analysis showed that majority of the DRFs have statistically significant positive relationships and could inform practitioners on the dynamic links between the DRFs.

Practical implications

The paper provides useful insight and knowledge to MiC practitioners and researchers on the risk factors that could compromise the success of MiC project designs and may inform design risk management. The dynamic linkages among the DRFs instruct the need to adopt a system-thinking philosophy in MiC project design.


This paper presents the first study that specifically evaluates and prioritizes the risk events at the design stage of MiC projects. It sets forth recommendations for addressing the identified DRFs for MiC projects.



This research received full funding from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council, University Grants Committee (RGC, UGC) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University under the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (PF17 ‐ 00649). However, the conclusions do not represent the position of the funding bodies but those of the authors.


Wuni, I.Y., Shen, G.Q. and Antwi-Afari, M.F. (2023), "Exploring the design risk factors for modular integrated construction projects", Construction Innovation, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 213-228.



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