After seeing pre-fabricated bathrooms become a popular “green” construction trend in Europe, the company, whose specialty is large-scale drywall and structured metal framing for the health care, education and religious industries, built a “bathroom pod” model of their own about two years ago.
According to company founder Ron Mulkey, “We have always pre-fabricated anything we could to improve economies. It’s really a prefab of a bathroom unit.”
The company began taking the bathroom pod model to architectural shows, but it was WellStar Kennestone Hospital that was the first in Cobb to incorporate the pods in the new “Blue” patient tower currently under construction. Mulkey is installing 52 bathroom pods and patient bed “head walls” for the new tower. All the companies on the construction team are Cobb County companies. CDH Partners is serving as the architect and Brasfield & Gorrie as the general contractor.
Mulkey says it is one of the few U.S. companies that are constructing the pods that include the walls and ceiling, plumbing and electrical roughed-in, and all finishes including ceramic wall tile, paint and stainless steel accessories. The pods used in the Blue tower project were a floorless model that included everything but the toilet.
He also says that because of the logistical costs of transporting and loading the pods, they cost a little more than building the bathrooms on-site. The benefit is in the schedule and the quality consistency, Mulkey said. “The beauty is the economies of scale.”
“It is a money savings when you can get time off the schedule. The owner gets the building sooner and can begin leasing or charging,” Mulkey said. “There are intangible savings as well. It takes away the ‘punch list’ on the end.” He further explained that the bathroom is usually the biggest punch list area for contractors.
Mulkey Enterprises has also recently finished a second medical project for Emory Eastside Medical Center in Snellville.
Mulkey describes the building of the pods as a “production line”. He says it took them five weeks to build the units for the Wellstar project. They leased a warehouse near Bells Ferry road and Cobb Parkway to build their pods and work on additional pre-fab ideas. Mulkey’s main office is located on Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta. The company has 150 full-time employees.
Mulkey says the pods are considered a “leaner and greener construction” practice because they lead to reduced jobsite waste. They can be used on a multitude of projects including multi-family residential, hotels, student and military housing, and assisted living.