Prefabrication vs Stick-Built Construction

Traditional framed construction techniques have been used throughout the world for centuries, with many variations being adapted throughout to fit the building style as needed. This method of construction has evolved to suit different foundations, locations, designs, and end use. Earlier to this, many countries around the world were utilizing prefabricated components to construct housing and hospitals1 due to the advantage of producing a structure in a short time span, and often for a lesser cost – even the famous Eiffel Tower was built by prefab construction in 18892 for the World’s Fair. Construction of anything, whether it be a skyscraper or a children’s playhouse, has its advantages and disadvantages due to the method of construction used – so which one is better?

Milled or Handcrafted – that is the question

There is no better feeling than designing, producing, and constructing something from scratch. You dreamt it and created it with your own hands, right from the start. Stick-built or handcrafted systems are the most common construction method, especially for residential construction. You have the benefit of being able to easily make changes to your design throughout or after construction5, and aren’t forced to work within the confines of a kit or package that requires a specific way of construction. Furthermore, you have more skilled labour in this field that are used to working with a more traditional method of construction, meaning you may find more contractors that prefer to use this method that they are familiar with, rather than trying something new.6 The major downside to standard wood frame construction is waste, both in materials and in time. One study by Forintek showed that panelized construction resulted in 40% less man hours, 55% less lumber waste, and 2.3% more lumber usage when compared to the same project done with stick frame.7

There is no denying that a pre-fabricated structure offers many advantages such as a shorter timeline, less margin for error, reduced cost and typically a secured price, precision, ease of accessibility, and reduced skill level required for construction – among many others. Factory manufactured wall systems, trusses, doors and windows, mechanical systems, are starting to become more widely used products in the North American construction industry to reduce costs and tighten schedules – two crucial benefits required in our current climate. This method is one that European and Asian countries have been using for decades to maximize efficiency. Broad Sustainable Building in Shanghai, for instance, completed a six-story building in just one day, and a 30-story hotel in only 15 days, using prefabricated construction.3 With 90% of the work being fabricated in the factory and remaining 10% done on site, this advance approach allows for shorter time spent for on-site construction, reduced costs for transportation and logistics, and greater capacity for efficiencies.4

So what does PacRim have to do with all of this?

 We may sound a little biased, but we definitely prefer the method of prefabrication. We believe in quality at an affordable cost which is proven by our products. PacRim offers flat packed kits that come stocked with high quality, CSA approved, precision cut milled wood, including all hardware to construct, and laminated doors and windows. These manufactured kits can be delivered anywhere with access, allowing you to build your structure in your own backyard or in the backwoods. Machine cut, tongue & groove, notched boards are cut specifically to each model’s design, ensuring there is minimal measuring, screwing, or cutting. Taking only days to complete, you could be enjoying your new building right away and not falling suspect to ever-changing schedules and increasing material costs. Furthermore, everything you need is in one place – no more trips to the hardware store. Once finished you are met with a stunning design of European craftsmanship, finished with ornate trim and moulding details, beveled duck-bill corners, and elegant glazed doors and windows.

Manufactured options allow the consumer to receive a quality product, in a fraction of the time, and a fraction of the cost – benefits that are amplified in projects with numerous buildings and on a time crunch. This style of product allows for us to facilitate projects to a wide variety of customers such as campgrounds, parks, municipalities, entrepreneurs, and the everyday consumer. We look forward to a day when prefab construction is a more recognized and celebrated method of construction within our industry, and stand proud to be one company who is leading it!

 

1 Wikipedia author 41.81.213.57. “Prefabricated Building” Wikipedia November 7, 2021.

2 Redshift Video. “The History of Prefabrication: From Roman Forts to Modern Modular Housing” Redshift by Autodesk. December 16, 2021.

3,4 David XU. “How to build a skyscraper in two weeks” McKinsey & Company. May 1, 2014.

5 Rebecca Resnic “Construction Methods: Standard vs Prefab Systems” Aamodt / Plumb. No publishing date

6 Bone Structure blog post “What are the pros and cons of each construction method?” Bone Structure. February 9, 2015

7 Karensa Camplair “Prefabricated vs. Stick Frame” Pacific Homes. December 15, 2011.