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With none of the transportation or bureaucratic hurdles of the modular system nor settlement issues of log construction, panelization offers builders a way to dry-in structures quickly in a conventional way that is easy to understand for other trades with the benefit of nearly limitless design.

Plus, the cost of the panel package from their producer gives builders a predictable portion of the project to hang their hat on when bidding.

For these and other reasons, panelization is the most widely used form of systems building in today’s construction market because of its time savings, design flexibility and variety ofapplications in the field. The majority of production builders use factory-made components to frame their homes. (See sidebar on Component Construction.) Multifamily developers, moreover, have long ago switched to panelization to speed their cycle times and get the units on the market sooner.

Some builders remain skeptical that panelization is faster or more efficient than site building, since a good crew of framers can move like the wind when motivated by money and gallons of Mountain Dew. Has there ever been side-by-side comparison?

In 1996, the Wood Truss Council of America(WTCA) teamed with the BSC of the NAHB for Framing the American Dream. Two identical 2,600-sq.ft. houses were constructed in the parking lot outside the Houston Astrodome. One house was site-built, the other used panel technology.

The two homes dramatically demonstrated the advantages of panelization, including a 16% overall savings in labor and material costs. Component or panel-built structures typically use 26% less wood, saving valuable lumber; they require 37% less construction time, enabling builders to complete the structure faster and thereby save on interest and financing costs; and they are fully engineered and constructed in afactory setting, so all doors, floors, windows and walls are plumb. This dramatically reduces the amount of callbacks. Because the wood used in the factory is often kiln dried and the lumber is not exposed to the elements for long, this reduces the amount of nail pops, warping and cupping that’s seen in site building.