6 Benefits of Panelized Construction over Stick Framed Walls

If you are not in the componentized manufacturing business and have never heard of a wall panel, then you would probably think that stick built homes were better, stronger and built to last longer. Surely, the craftsmen of old knew the best way right? A lot of their homes still stand today as a testimony of their commitment to excellence.

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But as you know for each one of these we see still standing, we see more in a sad shape of disrepair or even in a state of non-repair. The only answer for these is a fresh start, as eventually then end up looking like this:

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Welcome to the new era of the building industry. There are many new techniques used today that were not thought of in days gone by. Now, when you consider building a house, you have many more choices to consider.

Green from the start

The National Green Building Program put on by the NAHB recognizes “Panelized Building System Techniques” for their re-use and recycling materials and minimization of soil disturbance and erosion of jobsites. There is minimal waste involved. Unlike on a job site, almost all “extra” material will be re-used and NOT out into a dumpster.

Faster installation

When using Panelized Construction, time is an important factor, right? You can have an average size home dried in within a few days, thus keeping the chance of materials getting wet to a minimum. We have all seen homes too often that do not get dried in within a timely fashion. The absorption of water in the flooring material will lead to many problems in the future and can affect what kind of flooring you can choose. If your house has a “wave” in the floor, this could be why!

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Technical support

When you choose to build with a builder using panelized construction methods, you will be guided all the way thru the process by an expert in their application. Besides, those in the office are much more likely to be sober than those on the jobsite!

Increased durability

As with any kind of building materials, if you can keep them out of the elements, you will have a longer lasting, stronger product for years to come. The fact is, panels are delivered to a jobsite and erected within days. Compare that to lumber that arrives on a jobsite and may sit for weeks.

Exceptional quality

Built in a factory, in a jig, walls are guaranteed to be square. Then sheathing is applied that braces the wall square. All that’s left is to set in place and assemble like a jigsaw puzzle.

More economical than stick built

Cost up front is a little more to build with panelized construction, yes this is true. But the realization is that monies spent up front will be saved down the road, with savings in labor to erect the building. After all, days (or even weeks) of framing walls with a labor crew cost a heck of a lot more than hours of erecting that “puzzle” of panel pieces.

As for the debate at hand, which way of building a wall is best? I have found a few articles to support the facts. There are a few way to figure the costs of each: labor, site, waste and materials. One study I found was following two identical buildings, 3100 sq. ft. triplexes. Here are the facts from that study:

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When you consider the practice of building walls in the field, you are trusting in human judgement and the knowledge of tradesmen. While building the wall, how many times have we seen or heard of someone nailing the wrong side of the line? Or heard the phrase “I can’t see it from my house”, implying that because this mistake will not personally affect this person’s home; then leave it as it stands. This is something I have heard many time in my framing career and I personally cannot stand to hear. Not to mention the cost of delays due to weather, theft, materials, vandalism or the crew itself. All of these add up to increased costs for the builder and homeowner.

Using panelized construction can solve many of these problems. Most producers keep materials indoor to keep them at a constant moisture level. No more gray lumber! They are built-in a controlled environment which makes a straighter wall. Each component is constructed from a detailed design drawing to exact specifications every time. Using a jig system keeps the walls 100% square and sheathing soon thereafter keeps them square. Another time saver is that while the panels are being built the site work can be going on at the same time. This makes tighter schedules possible.

With this being said I feel the answer is obvious. Today’s panelized systems are by far superior to conventional building techniques. But we all make our own decisions, what will yours be when you are building your dream house?

Tim McKnight- Design Trainee

Gould Design, Inc.