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Old 12-27-2009, 02:18 PM   #1
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Any opinions on panelized framing?

I'm planning to build a custom home over the next year or two, and am currently in the research phase. I'd love to get your thoughts on various construction options as I develop my plans.

To begin with, what do you guys think of panelized framing vs. on-site framing? Rather than having carpenters build the frame on the lot, with panelized framing, all of the walls are built in a factory and then trucked and assembled on site. The costs seem to be comparable between the two approaches, but panelized framing seems to have a ton of other advantages, and no real disadvantages I've come across yet: Among the many advantages of the panelized approach are:

- faster assembly on-site
- no weather delays
- less labor
- less waste
- higher (computer aided) precision
- factory quality control
- code compliance verification at the factory
- may end up being slightly less expensive than on-site framing
- less susceptible to materials theft
- ...

Agree? Disagree? What factors would make on-site framing superior to panelized framing? Any gotchas to be aware of?

Last edited by TitaniumVT; 12-27-2009 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 12-27-2009, 03:45 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by TitaniumVT View Post
What factors would make on-site framing superior to panelized framing? ?
well, about the only advantage I can think of with on site framing is:

you have scrap wood for the fire barrel so when it is cold you can warm up.

panelized, such as what you linked has myriad advantages and no true disadvantages except for the DIY'er since that company essentially becomes the framing contractor. It removes the DIY portion totally in the framing. The only other thing is the ability to adjust for on site problems but the panelization should remove most of those problems simply because of the tolerance standards they impose on themselves.

as long as they use quality materials and have good quality standards that are followed, I can't think of any real down side.

Now, if you can buy just the panels and install yourself, and it is cost effective, sounds like a great way to go if you want to DIY.
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Old 12-27-2009, 06:46 PM   #3
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I have done both. It is faster with the panels for sure. The problem I have seen is walls sticking over the slab 4” which means what. Quick fix in which the interior walls don’t line up with the plumbing and the window openings are not centered. Of course this happened on three more slabs in which the builder just dozed them over and started over again. On the other hand if you stick frame and you want to change your mind on something it is a lot easier.
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Old 12-27-2009, 06:59 PM   #4
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Did one, stopped there. Two corners were "inside corners", that should have been "outside corners". That took a little fixing.... Exterior trim was wacko. Looked like the box it was when done, but that was 20 years ago. Hopefully, they don't still use unskilled labor during production and one overseer that knows it. I would ask for referrals from them, not the ones they give, but the last 6 they built. But, I'm an old stick builder. Hope it works for you.
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:29 PM   #5
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Thanks very much for the quick reply guys. I'll be sure to get bids on both approaches before I begin. I stopped by a local panelized framing company and asked them for a rough SWAG yesterday - they came in around the same ballpark as the estimate I'd previously gotten for on-site framing.

Coincidentally, Fine Homebuilding made a prediction last week that factory built modular construction (panelized framing is a part of that apporach) is going to be a defining trend in homebuilding over the coming decade:

Based on your experience, I'd have to pay extra attention to quality control if I go the panelized route. As much as I'd like to DIY the framing, the house I'd like to build is 3500 sq ft, so it would be an enormous undertaking. I'm thinking right now that it'll make more sense to outsource the shell construction, and then DIY as much of the exterior and interior finishing as I can do myself.

Looking forward to discussing the project in depth with all of you over the coming year!
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:56 PM   #6
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Although the majority of homes built here are brick/block about 8% of the market is now factory made timber panels/brick veneer. Stick built is very rare. The main problem is when the foundations are not accurately built and the brick veneer may be built very close to the panel in places, instead of having a 2 inch cavity. Stick built or block inner wall will allow for such mistakes.
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