Insights for Builders Interested in Pre-fab Construction

Sponsored by: Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors

In 2017, there were 92,902 manufactured homes shipped to locations across the United States, according to data from the US Census Bureau. New construction homes sales in the same period totaled 614,000. This means that for every 6.67 new site-built houses sold last year, one manufactured home was purchased. Considering the relative newness and short lifespan manufactured homes have in comparison to the long history of traditional construction, this is an incredibly impressive number.

It’s clear that Americans have lost a lot of their hesitation when the word “prefabrication” comes up in relation to construction, opening up new avenues for construction companies and independent builders. In light of the current tug of war between a tight construction labor market and increased demand for housing, every hour you can save on a project means faster churn and increased profit margins.

The Potential of Prefabrication for Construction Projects

In 2011, as the recent recession continued to threaten the U.S. real estate market, only 13 percent of builders reported to the NAHB that labor shortages were a serious problem. By 2013, that number was 53 percent, and in 2016, it was a concern for over 70 percent of contractors.

Part of the problem is that there aren’t enough younger people taking an interest in the industry. But another contributing element is clearly the influence of the millions of construction jobs lost during the economic downturn that have simply never returned. The contractors that did survive that volatile period were generally more established, yet are now approaching retirement age, which only compounds the labor issue further.

Thus, builders have been forced to find ways to do more with the smaller labor pool available to them. Prefabrication, whether limited or as a larger part of a project, makes sense as an ease to the lack of hands on deck.

Direct Advantages of Pre-Fab Construction

Prefabrication allows for a number of other improvements to the tradition of stick-building structures on site, including:

1. Safer construction sites. According to a recent McGraw-Hill report, more contractors using prefabrication in their projects feel that this technique improves site safety than those who find it creates safety hazards. Because one barrier of entry for young people in the construction industry is the well-known safety risk, safer sites could be one method of attracting the labor you need without having to increase costs to retain that labor force.

2. Cost savings. Every project will be different – that’s a given. But McGraw-Hill’s survey of contractors using prefabrication found that 65 percent of those asked indicated that including this component in their construction methods meant a real and positive impact on their budget. You’ll also save on theft claims, since there’s not as much material left lying around that could be stolen.

3. More on-time project schedules. Because prefabrication allows you to design a home and have the pieces built offsite, you can literally be putting one building together while the next one is being built to your specifications in the factory. It’s no surprise, then, that 65 percent of builders say that it can speed up project schedules, keeping timelines more accurate. Impressively, 35 percent indicated prefabrication has taken a month or more off their project’s build time.

4. Green building. Not everyone is on the green building train, but if it’s a selling point you’re emphasizing or have been interested in exploring, prefabrication can be a perfect solution. Because much of the project is factory-built, it’s easy for the manufacturer to reduce the waste involved and the materials used. Onsite, the results are even greater. Just over three-quarters of the McGraw-Hill survey respondents noted that site waste was noticeably reduced.

For these and numerous other reasons, prefabrication is very likely to become the future of construction, at least until the labor pool recovers significantly. There’s plenty of demand, but it’s understandably difficult to stay ahead of it when there aren’t enough players on the field.

Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors Exterior

Retiring an old Prefabrication Stumbling Block

For contractors who aren’t yet widely taking advantage of prefabrication, there are still a number of worries and myths floating around. The biggest one, by far, is the idea that there’s no room for personalization with prefabricated building components. While there was certainly a time when “prefabrication” could have meant that you had just one or two designs available, from Marvin Windows and Doors gives you plenty of choices both in color and design – without long wait times for delivery.

With the help of computer modeling, it’s now easy to send your designs to the factory of your choice and have that exact building appear on site in pieces. Regardless of its complexity, iIt will have the exact R-value of insulation you require, the number of electrical outlets and, if you specify, the windows of your choice in the right color.

Those kinds of special touches can sometimes lead to delays, but not with certain manufacturers like Integrity®. Their entire manufacturing process is designed to move windows to dealers faster. That’s how they can guarantee a 10-day delivery-to-dealer turnaround. Whether you’re building a single-family home or a huge multi-family high-rise, every extra day you’re waiting for windows can add up to extra cost from idle labor and project delays. Turnaround should always be a vital component to consider when choosing your windows.

Other window companies are just now entering the larger prefabrication arena and they’re still feeling their way through the process. ago, so their processes already blend well with the pre-fab construction industry and they have always put great importance on ensuring that their windows are always delivered on time and to specifications. They know there’s nothing more frustrating than having an order show up wrong, causing cascading delays and increasing costs.

Prefabrication: The Future of Construction?

It seems like prefabrication has all the right elements to help work around labor shortages that are holding many contractors back, as well as help speed up build times to help you stay on top of demand. The biggest trick is learning to think about prefabrication differently. It’s not just for low budget or modular homes anymore. You can work with particular elements that are delivered “ready to go” to fill in skill gaps, or you can design a structure from scratch and have it all built in a factory to be shipped to you piece by piece.

Prefabrication offers more opportunities and design possibilities than you might imagine. Approached with the right attitude, you can make it work for you in a way that will keep your business competitive and your profits growing.

Sponsored by: Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors
Integrity from Marvin provides durable energy efficient windows and doors constructed of Ultrex, a pultruded fiberglass, for superior lasting performance you can rely on.
Integrity by Marvin Windows and Doors