Purpose: Modular construction is considered a well-established construction method for improving the efficiency of the construction industry worldwide. However, the industry struggles to achieve higher levels of modularisation in urban areas. Previous studies on decision-making for modularisation have, so far, not focussed much on its application in urban areas. As modular construction could bring lots of advantages such as speed of construction, This study aims to develop a decision-making tool that can assist the project planners in deciding whether the modular construction techniques should be applied in their urban area project. Design/methodology/approach: Based on the literature review, a total of 35 decision-making factors of modularisation were identified for this study. The decision-making model is then developed to evaluate the significance of each factor using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) approach. A total number of 72 valid responses were obtained and analysed. The geometric mean of priorities is adopted to obtain the par-wise comparison between the critical factors in which each factor’s weighting in the decision-making model is calculated. Afterwards, the robustness of the decision-making model is demonstrated by the real-life projects in China, Hong Kong and the UK, respectively. Findings: A total of 35 decision-making factors allocated in five criteria for modular construction selection in urban areas were identified. The criteria include site attributes, project characteristics, labour consideration, environmental and organisation and project risk. Their impact was calculated using the AHP to indicate the relative importance with respect to the adoption of modularisation in urban areas. Afterwards, a two-level decision-making model was developed that can be used as a decision-making tool for the adoption of modular construction. Practical implications: The outcome of this research will be beneficial to industrial practitioners and academics in understanding the critical attributes that affect the adoption of modular construction in an urban area. It further enables the building professionals to assess the feasibility of using modular construction in their projects, especially at the early stage, so as to facilitate its use. Originality/value: There is a number of literature on the decision-making model on the adoption of modular construction. However, previous studies did not provide specific concerns related to urban areas, whereas there is an urgent need to have an updated analysis that can be catered to the modular construction in the urban area. In this research study, the 35 decision-making factors were ranked by the experienced project managers and then a pair-wise comparison was conducted. With this information, the robust decision-making model is formulated to offer a kept promised indicator in adopting modularisation in the urban area.