Sunday, September 10, 2017

Merging Prefab Types to Build Better Custom Homes

Recently I’ve been looking at pictures and floorplans for custom homes trying to find ways to blend modular and prefab construction to form something new for our industry.


Years ago I encountered a builder that wanted the factory I was representing to produce a custom home with a radically different roof system. I went back to my engineering department only to hear they couldn’t build it, not because of the modules but because they couldn’t supply the weird roof.

When I went back to my builder he asked a very simple question. “Can I supply my own roof and you supply the modules?”

What happened was a beautiful custom modular home produced with no roof system. The day after the home was set the builder had roof trusses installed. The roof system had 11 different roof pitches and styles. Within two days the roof was finished and the builder began a 30 day finish of the home.

Another builder wanted an angled 2 story house for his customer. I delivered 8 modules with the ends that would normally be closed in open and ready for a middle section of panelized walls forming the 45 degree angle. A custom staircase was installed in the panelized section that would have been impossible to build into the modules.

Another beautiful home.

So what is holding these different methods from working together more often to build even the most difficult custom home? I know some builders already use this method but it is a small number. Most modular home builders faced with a customer’s demand for a 3,000 sq ft custom home that looks like a it could never be a modular home would simply turn it down.

Maybe we should take a second look at it and determine if using multiple prefab systems could be used to build it.

System Built refers to homes built through some type of systemized construction process. Unlike “stick-built” homes that are constructed on-site one piece or “stick” at a time, these systems automate the home building process to achieve higher levels of quality and efficiency.

System doesn’t apply to just one discipline, it can be the merging of any of the following:

In the high-tech approach known as panelized construction, pre-engineered wall sections are produced for a new home in factory-controlled conditions, then shipped complete to the building site for final construction. A panelized home can be weather tight in just a few days.

Traditional timber framing is the method of creating framed structures of heavy timber jointed together with various joints, commonly and originally with lap jointing, and then later pegged mortise and tenon joints. Diagonal bracing is used to prevent "racking", or movement of structural vertical beams or posts.

A modular home is one that is built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are covered and transported to their new locations, where they are assembled by a builder. A modular home is not a mobile home; it is simply a home that is built off-site, as opposed to on-site.

A log house or log building is a structure built with horizontal logs interlocked at the corners by notching. ... The term "log cabin" generally refers to a smaller, more rustic log house, such as a hunting cabin in the woods, that may or may not have electricity or plumbing.

If anyone has experience mixing these different systems building methods, please share!

1 comment:

Devin Perry, NAHB's Building Systems Councils said...


Building Systems Councils Member Whisper Creek Log Homes won a BSC Jerry Rouleau Award for Panelized Home Design of 3,001 - 4,000 square feet with this impressive log home. Although it looks like a traditional log structure, the home was built using panelized construction.