Newsletter No. 3
Why we prefer panelized construction
When people talk about prefabricated homes they usually refer to them as "modular" homes. Increasingly, the terms modular and panelized have been used interchangeably, however, distinct differences exist between the two types of homes. We would like to explain why panelization is our construction method of choice.
How they Differ
A modular home is one type of prefabricated home that is built in a factory in sections. These sections, or modules, consist of whole or partial rooms which are delivered to the construction site, placed on pre-made foundations, joined together and completed by a builder. Panelization is a second type of prefabrication, where the manufacturer pre-constructs the walls, floors, and roof panels. Often fit with doors and windows in the factory, the panels are then delivered to the construction site, placed on pre-made foundations, joined together and completed by a builder.
Panelization vs. Modular Construction
The main advantage of the modular prefabrication method is the higher degree of factory prefabrication which results in shorter on-site construction time. Wall finishes, floors, ceilings, windows and doors, and even sometimes wiring and plumbing can be installed in the shop. The method of inspection can be viewed as neither pro nor con as the factory usually receives a third party certification in combination with on-site inspections.
In our opinion, the most considerable disadvantages of modular homes, in comparison to panelized homes, are size and design limitations. The modules need to fit on a flatbed truck, and hence can not be wider than a reasonable oversize load, as regulated by the relevant state laws. Those size limitations, in turn, have a direct impact on the design of a house. The maximum transportation width limits the width of the rooms. It is not easy to add a couple feet to make your room larger. The volumes tend to be boxy, while the layouts typically follow standard interior patterns. Often, when you look at modular prefab homes you will note a certain uniformity which derives from the specifics of this construction method.
At evoDOMUS, we have been aware of this situation for many years. We had the opportunity to learn from the leading German home manufacturers over a period of 20 years in our role as designers of over 300 homes for their world wide clientele. Because of the indicated disadvantages, the vast majority of prefab manufacturers in Germany utilize the panelized method.
Because our goal is to create individualized, site-specific homes that provide the highest degree of energy efficiency, we prefer the panelized construction system, by far. We build single panels, up to 48 feet long, which form walls, floors and roofs. This panelization gives us utmost freedom to build exactly the home our clients desire. There is no length or width limitation for walls, and ceiling panels can easily span 24 feet and more. Another advantage is that these panels are usually straight and flat which enables us to stack them side-by-side or on top of each other and shrink wrap them for weather protection during transportation.
As with modular construction, we can fit doors and windows in the factory, sealing them properly and making sure that all panels have been built with the greatest precision. In this way we achieve an incredible level of air tightness, the number one criteria for energy efficiency.
Once they arrive on the construction site, the panels are winched into place with the help of a mobile crane. It takes only a couple days to assemble a house, making it airtight, watertight and lockable.
This freedom from system-inherent aesthetic restrictions enables us to design our homes individually, while still taking advantage of the resource-saving, and healthy off-site construction merits. All this results in fabulous benefits for our clients.