Key Insights on the Benefits of Panelization and Prefabrication

On this Structures & Systems edition of the Housing Transformation Summit, Monica Wheaton, who is Director of Customer Success at ECI Software Solutions, facilitates a discussion on utilizing prefabricated components and panelization. Keith Anderson, President of On3 / Keith Anderson Consulting, and Ryan Leusch, Chief Technology Officer of S2A Modular, are the expert panelists in this exciting presentation.

Keith talks about his experience in the automotive industry and overseeing nine panelization plants for over 13,000 homes per year. Currently, he is starting up a new homebuilding company in Madison, WI. He is also President of On3 – a field learning app for builders and trade contractors.

Ryan shares his experience in building completely modular homes. He opened his first factory this year and expects to have 5-6 new ones by the end of 2022. Ryan shares that his focus is on leveraging technology to provide more energy efficient, sustainable models.

“For a builder who has never done this before, where is the best place to start?,” Melissa asks in regards to panelization. Keith recommends that people get familiar with component plants near them and educate themselves about how the panels are put together. He mentions how some component plants nowadays not only make panels, but also provide labor to install them onsite, making panelization more of a turnkey process. When Melissa asks about justifying a potential switch to panelization, Keith brings up carrying costs, increased quality and efficiency which have to be put into consideration in order to be aware of hidden costs that can be eliminated with panelization. “We have a lot of repeat customers, that’s why I don’t hesitate to question it anymore,” he says. Keith shares tips about building a new panelization plant and answers a number of questions from the audience.

The discussion also focuses on modular homes. Ryan echoes Keith’s remarks in terms of efficiencies and cost savings. What are the biggest challenges in building modular homes? According to Ryan, there are some misperceptions and sometimes it’s difficult to ship modular homes to certain locations. He mentions shipping costs and how they justify other savings. “We’ll ship 1000 miles away if someone wants to pay the cost, we don’t have a problem doing that … holding costs are huge, that’s probably the biggest factor to most people, and the state inspections,” he says. Ryan talks about the specific needs of every project and how the last 10% of the building process influences how projects are implemented once boxes are delivered. He also talks about customization. “With modular, you can customize anything,” Ryan says. “Compared to stick … you are talking about $1 to $2 per sq. ft. to do a custom design on a modular, that’s huge savings right off the bat.”

An audience member shares insights on how modular homes allow builders to blend disciplines, achieve numerous efficiencies, minimize theft, and reduce overhead expenses.

Watch the whole video to find out more about the benefits of panelization and modular homes.