Panelization problems

Assembling panels on site still requires a labor investment
Structural insulated panels are constructed offsite and put in place with a crane. (Photo: Alexander Kondriianenko, Dreamstime)

Panelization falls under the offsite construction umbrella, but it doesn’t solve all the challenges modular building does, according to Mark Dearth of Colorado Building Systems.

Modular building is often held up as a solution to labor challenges, as entire rooms are completed in a factory and shipped to the home site ready to be put in place. With panelization, walls are completed offsite, but have to be assembled when they arrive at the site.

[Related: Offsite, on target—Building more with modular building]

Colorado Building Systems has a provider for panelized housing, but Dearth noted that the “difficult thing about panelized housing is the labor force, is just finding people who are able to put it together.”

Still, it’s a method that is taking off in the resurgent offsite construction world. The Census Bureau tracks the number of homes that are built on site as well as those that use modular or other offsite methods of construction. It found that in 2017, less than 2% of homes around the country were built using panelization or precut components, about the same percentage as modular homes. In the West Census region, panelization was twice as common as modular building, as 1.11% of single-family homes were built using this method, compared to 0.56% that were modular homes.

Dearth noted, “At the end of the day, panelized [housing] certainly cuts down on the cost. It might show up as three different loads, but you still have to have the labor and the crane to continue that construction.”

[Related: With looming labor shortages, new legislation aims to bring shop class back to school]

Danielle Andrus

Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.

Danielle Andrus has 189 posts and counting. See all posts by Danielle Andrus

One thought on “Panelization problems

  • June 13, 2019 at 10:53 am

    So… Do you not utilize labor in the factory to assemble the modular products? And is there no labor involved in installing the modular product on the site? If we are talking about a “labor shortage”, and equating that with not having enough people joining the industry, then isn’t the real question something like “how many people does SIP construction take versus modular construction – from factory floor to the site?”

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