So you’re considering building a new home and the amount of options and choices are overwhelming. Everything from the style of the home to the smallest details can overwhelm anyone. One of the biggest decisions can be a discussion about the type of construction used to build the new home. There are many options available to builders and home owners including three major choices that we deal with on a regular basis including: Stick Framed, Prefabricated and Modular construction. Let me help sort out the differences and some of the Pro’s and Con’s associated with each approach.
Even with advances in home manufacturing techniques the vast majority of homes in the US are still built with stick framed construction. “Stick Framed” gets its name from the fact that all the lumber (sticks) is delivered to the construction site and carpenters frame each wall on site “stick by stick”. At each floor level the framers will frame individual wall sections and then stand them up, brace them, and then build another section until all the walls of that level are “raised”.
The picture above is a house we recently “stick framed” for a customer. The house used a combination of traditional framing lumber, engineered floor framing members, and pre-fabricated wood trusses.
Prefabricated construction (or component construction) is very much like stick framed construction except that the walls (and sometimes roof and floor components) are built off-site in a manufacturing facility, shipped to the site and erected in the same fashion as site framed components.
During 2021 I’ve managed the construction of ten new homes. Five of those new homes were built using prefabricated wall panels. Over the last 15 years I would say 75% of the homes and buildings that I’ve built have used prefabricated wall panels. This method has many benefits but the most important one from my perspective is the improved schedule using less labor.
Modular construction (not to be confused with manufactured homes (trailers)) has become a very popular construction method especially for single family homes. Modular construction essentially builds a regular home in several “boxes” that are shipped to the site and installed on a foundation. Each box has been pre-wired, plumbed, insulated, wall board, windows, doors and roughly 90% of finished completed.
Modular construction works exceptionally well with standard home designs especially on ranch and colonial style homes. The home above is one we set this year which is a 4 “box” colonial home with a small attached garage. The entire house was set (including the garage) and weather tight in one day.
If you’re building a new home don’t be surprised if your builder mentions several different construction options for your new home. These options allow builders great flexibility in meeting customer schedules, budgets, and building site constraints. Ultimately, regardless of the construction method you and your builder choose, each option can result in a well built, long lasting home. Hopefully this article helps clear up any confusion about these popular construction methods.
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