November 10, 2015|

Building Outlook: Ride the Prefab Wave

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A new movement in construction practice is taking a lot of the building off of the building site. While prefabricated homes formerly flew under the radar in the building industry, the call for greater energy efficiency and performance in recent years has re-focused the spotlight on their sector.

Prefab, or factory-built, homes have many benefits. They can be built more efficiently, more quickly, with more precision and durability, and they typically have more predictable costs than site-built homes. Prefab homes usually generate less material waste.

Companies like Blu Homes, Method Homes, and BIO-Architect have made prefab both trendy and highly efficient. Clayton Homes’, the largest US residential prefab manufacturer, offers the I-House, a 
prefab home that can be powered for around a dollar a day, thanks to 
Low-E windows, solar augmentation, high-efficiency appliances, and superior insulation. I-House offers a tankless hot-water heater, and a cistern that collects rainwater from the roof for use in gardening, car washing, or other outdoor uses. Floors are made of fast-growing bamboo, and paint and insulation are low- or zero-emission. Its features rival that of any custom, stick-built high performance home.

What’s the importance of the rise in manufacturing for tape? Prefab is not just confined to whole houses anymore. Certain components are now receiving the manufacturing and integration treatment.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are a high performance building system for residential and light commercial construction. The panels consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings, typically oriented strand board (OSB). SIPs are manufactured under factory-controlled conditions and can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient, and cost effective.

And SIPs are not alone. Precast concrete, Superior Walls®, and Sto® Panel insulated wall panels are just a few recent, successful examples of integration and prefab components. Tapes can be incorporated directly into the wall in the factory.

Why the move to prefab?

Whether it is a component or a whole home, construction done in factory brings speed, quality, and control. Systems are built by specifically trained craftsman and machined indoors in an environmentally controlled space. Quality assurance and control are often assured with a single-source warranty. Because completed systems are delivered to a building site, project timelines can be compressed. The manufacturing process allows for the building or component to be inspected and all punchlist items to be pre-punched prior to installation.  Critical waterproofing details are highly repeatable and easily inspected.

Prefab can be fabulous.

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