View Full Version : Pre-Fab wall sections

Stephen Beaty
12-18-2001, 06:17 PM
A HVAC contractor that I know was telling me today about what he called "Pre-Fab" houses. I'm NOT talking about modular homes. He said the walls come pre-assembled with the sheating on and window openings cut. Four guys could get a 2 story house in the dry in 2-3 days, he said. No plumbing or electric was done ahead - just the walls, I believe. Does anyone know anything about these? Quality? Expensive? Problems?

Tim Hunsaker
12-18-2001, 07:08 PM
The wave of the future, this is getting to be big business in Northern Ohio. Now that I am out of the framing business and am doing developement and general contracting I have looked at this very seriously when I did frame we did a chain of nursing homes that used this method as long as the foundations are right there is nothing wrong with these homes and yes they can get them up in that short of time

12-18-2001, 09:04 PM
Pre-Fab homes are the big thing today. The work is done in 2 or 3 days. Pre-Fab homes are all about time,money and the bottom line of cost. The real question is quality. I see Pre-Fab homes all day long being built and dropped on the ground. There is always damage done to the wall system. Think of the fisrt floor cut into 4x8 sections and put on a truck and dropped at lot 134 ready to add a top plate. Now put the same thing in a factory and you have Pre-Fab housing. There are always problems with this system because the lowest bid is taken and then plans are not changed and it is missing lug footings and the load points are move. Pre-Fab homes always come with trusses or TJI. Trusses and TJI are cheper than 2x the price is lower and lumber is also a lower quality.

12-18-2001, 09:19 PM
Sometimes, when we had to rack a wall, we sliced the thermoply w/knife along the studs, then cut in a metal rack brace later. Most of the time, though, stuff went up pretty fast.

Jay R
12-18-2001, 11:23 PM
I built a veterinary Hospital two years ago using the panelized system; it wet very well. I had several elevation changes in my exterior foundation wall; the frame wall fit perfectly. The material was better than I could buy locally. We only had one interior stud warp out of shape; this is after the panels had sat on the ground for two weeks waiting for the slab to get poured. The company that I bought the panels from also supplied the insulation, windows, exterior doors, interior doors, trim, and shingles. They supplied almost everything. The only thing that I would do different is I would use a crane to set the exterior walls, I used a backhoe set the walls; that was to slow. I have found that the cost is about the same or a little less expensive than stick framing. The saving is in the time it takes to frame the same walls, and the fact that the panels can be in production at the same time the foundation is going in. One an average size house you should be able to cut about three weeks off the total construction time. The only thing that I can see that could make the panelized system not compete with a stick frame is the freight. The panels that I am using come out of Quebec Canada, that is a long ways from Northwest Colorado. By using a company out of Canada I am also taking advantage of the difference between the US dollar compared to Canadian dollar.

Jay R.

Stephen Beaty
12-19-2001, 05:52 AM
Does anyone know if any of these companies have a web site or do you have a phone number for them? I'd like to get some more information, even if it's just for knowledge sake.

John Giuliani
12-19-2001, 06:12 AM
Stephan, I have been representing a Canadian company here in the Mid-Atlantic area for about 11 years. I would like to recommend you check out
tdsnow@georgian.net. I just completed a 24,000 square foot church here in Eastern Pa. where the members supplied the manpower to erect the panels. Total cost of project was 1.5 million but insurance company values building at 2.5 million. A 1 million dollay savings. Also many of the production builders in my area have been using panelized for years. Hope this helps.


Jay R
12-19-2001, 09:30 AM

Here is the web address for Modulex Inc. The only thing that I did not like was there standard trim(2 3/8 x 3/8). I now specify the 2 3/8 x 5/8 casing. Also their standard window does not have the nailing flange, I now specify windows with the brick mold or the nailing flange.

Jay R.


Wayne Keown
12-19-2001, 03:00 PM
Stephen, here is the WEB site for Automated Builder. One of the most important steps to do, is to make sure your foundation has been installed per plans (same plans that your manufacturer has). Then check again. Let the manufacturer know of any changes before they start your panels. Good luck.


Rob Jones
12-20-2001, 05:35 PM
Like anything else in this business, the panels are only as good as the guy before you, and so on. For instance, the panel factory gets the main prints for the house, someone pulls a panel layout from this, then this is given to the guys on the factory floor who build them. Finally, they are delivered on site and assembled by the framers.

Versus traditional stick framing where the carpenter gets the prints and he does the layout, building, etc.

As mentioned above, panels have the promise of speed and time savings. But only if the product makes it past every person down the line in perfect shape, otherwise the guys in the field are taking time to fix the inevitable.
Personally, I think a good carpenter and crew stick framing can come close to panels in total time on the job, once all fixes are factored in...and the quality is definitely better.

But we do it both ways, the most common errors we see when using panels are errors in wall length, not getting wall/door openings and/or headers right, occasionally the panels are sheeted with a bow in the studs-especially the end stud which will screw you when you try to attach it to the next panel. We beat them in with a sledge until flush with sheeting before raising them. Almost always, there is/are misplaced partition blocking, etc.

So all in all, nothing major that cant be fixed but they arent the end all answer. On small homes, they definitely make sense, but on larger/custom's probably wouldnt do it.

12-22-2001, 09:32 AM
I'm currently stick framing, but before that I erected many a panel home, and was even in charge of a panel/truss plant once.

I don't have much to add to the excellent posts above except to say that one time a company had me prefab not only the walls, but the floors too! Everything was done with a crane and we were able to set a 3,000 sq ft house through the roof in one day. I found it very enjoyable, but it got more interesting when the wind picked up.

Jim Mathwig
12-24-2001, 03:07 PM
Being in a rural area we don't have availability to modular or most pre-fab options. The only option that I am currently aware of here is an outfit (actually still 125 miles away!) which takes your plans (or theirs) and builds the walls and delivers them on a truck with a crane. They are not sheathed, but since they are all placed in 90 minutes with their crane, it does give you "sudden walls."

02-12-2002, 09:58 AM

Maybe we can help. We are a custom manufacturer of wall panels. The attached link will answer some of your questions.

Quality Components (http://www.qcwallpanels.com)