Y! MyWeb

Newsletter #237

Panelized Modular Stick Homes

New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips

June, 2005 - Welcome, Summer!

All past newsletters are archived online at:



  1. Home Building Techniques - A primer
    A. Panellized
    B. Modular
    C. Stick
    D. SIP (structural Insulated Panels)
    E. ICF (insulated concrete forms)
    F. Concrete Block
    G. Conclusion
  2. Thought for the Day
  3. Subscription Information
Subscription and removals are automated and instruction can be found at the end of this newsletter.
This month's newsletter will cover the different forms of construction techniques for various wall systems that are currently in use across the country. We will provide definitions of each and a brief comparison of theses systems.


Panellized: are panels, which are pre-engineered and prepared at the factory. The materials are pre-cut and pre-drilled, labelled and numbered, then packed for shipping. The material is then assembled on site.

Modular: A modular home is built in multiple sections at the factory and then shipped to the site to be assembled and connected together on a permanent foundation.

Stick: A home constructed solely on site on a permanent foundation using traditional methods of construction i.e. all wood construction, framed and constructed on site.

SIP (Structural Insulated Panels): Structural Insulated Panels are constructed by placing expanded polystyrene between two structural skins which are usually oriented strand board. These panels come in 8' by 24' sizes and provide a high performance thermal efficient wall.

ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms): Insulated Concrete Forms are essentially forms for poured concrete walls that are not removed after the concrete has set and provide an additional thermal insulation in addition to the concrete.

Concrete Block: Concrete blocks are made from poured concrete with hollow insides. They are stacked on top of each other with mortar between them to bind them together. In some construction sites the hollow portion will be filled with re-enforcing bars and concrete poured into the hollow areas.

Now that we have defined each of these wall systems we will cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of wall system. As usual we provide a number of references that you are able to refer to for additional information.

Since the stick built home is the traditional method of house construction in the US and Canada, most of the benefits and the disadvantages are mention in comparison to a stick built home.

A. Panellized

Houses are constructed using panels that have been pre-engineered and prepared at the factory. The panels are pre-cut and pre-drilled, labelled and numbered, then packed for shipping. The material is then assembled on site.


  • Labour savings compared to stick built homes due to panels manufactured in factory conditions
  • There is much less wastage of materials and construction time is also reduced.
  • Smaller crews are needed to assemble the home and homes can be built more quickly than traditional stick homes
  • Builders claim that a home can be made watertight in as short as two to four days and completed, ready to move in, in 60 - 90 days.
  • Panellized homes do not require as much clearance for shipping as do modular homes
  • Homes can be assembled with a team of people, with one trained foreman and a group of construction personnel.


  • Although labour savings are evident compared to stick built homes, they are still not as efficient as their modular cousins
Some Useful Links:

Why Panellized Systems

The Net's Largest Selection of House Plans

The largest selection of house plans available on the web coupled with the best customer service - live customer service reps standing by to help you from 6 am to 6 pm EST. A one-two punch that makes this the only house plans site you will ever need. Also visit our house building tools page for lots of terrific (mostly free) useful resources.

Buying or Building a New House – Your credit scores could cost you tens of thousands.

If you are building a home or just buying one, you'd better check your credit score. Why? It's simply really. Your credit score significantly impact your ability to borrow money. Erroneous or old entries on your credit report could result in higher mortgage rate, which in turn could result in tens of thousands of dollars of additional interest paid over the life of your loan. Worse still, these erroneous entries could result in you being UNABLE to get a loan at all. Don't let your credit history become a headache in your new home building process. Check your credit. Get your free credit report today.

Considering a Hot Tub in your new Home?? Look no further. ThermoSpas Hot Tubs are offering up to $900.00 in cost savings discounts for House-N-Home-Building visitors.

Save Tens of Thousands and Cut the term of your loan 5-7 years - All without refinancing

Biweekly payments will save you tens of thousands in interest payments and cut the term of your loan by 5-7 years. Here are a few other advantages: Builds equity in your house 2-3 times faster, lowers your loan's effective interest rate, eliminates the need to pay mortgage insurance (PMI) sooner, enrolment requires no changes to your current mortgage, and you can select the convenience of an automatic debit from your account. Click here to find out more.

The New House Building Guide – Learn How To Save Thousands Building Your New Home

Intimidated by the idea of being your own builder? You're not alone. Most people don't have the time, expertise, or contacts to perform this task. The good news is that you don't have to. You can use your own builder and still save thousands. Get the House Building Guide and learn how. The Guide contains step-by-step instructions, sample specifications, an example building-contract, and dozens of money saving, convenience and healthy house building tips. This is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in building a new home.

Owner Builder Financing and Construction Support
Are you considering being an owner-builder, but are intimidated by the challenge of managing the process and finding financing. If you have the time, commitment and dedication to be an owner builder then you should definitely contact us. We offer 100% financing, a one-time close, no points, no interest payments during the building process, and construction support while you build. And best of all, when you are done, you will have earned, through your hard work, 25,000 - $75,000 of equity in your new home. For a no cost consultation, please complete the form found on our website, and someone contact you about this exciting opportunity.

Andy's How To Homebuilding - Home Design, Home Building and House Plans
Provides free advice on designing, building and contracting your own home. Many fine house plans are also available. We also provide estimates on the cost of building and using a General Contractor. All estimates are adjusted
to your local area in the U.S. or Canada.

B. Modular

Modular homes are built in a factory, collapsed and shipped to the construction site. Cranes will life the modules into place. This term modular has had a stigma attached to it, because some people erroneously think these are mobile homes. They are not.


  • Computer aided design allows customization and transfer of plans to the factory floor.
  • Factory construction allows better efficiencies and improved economies of scale compared to traditional stick built homes
  • Energy efficiency of the walls is improved due to design and better construction standards.
  • Homes can be constructed more quickly since weather and trade coordination is not a factor in a factory built home.
  • Construction time and wastage is reduced, reducing the cost for the builder and the home owner
    Modular homes can be built as a single ranch home or a highly customized home designed and built in the factory.
  • Builders do not need to coordinate as many trades and do not need as many people on site
  • Modular homes are inspected at the factory before they leave and again on site before the home is turned over to the home owner
  • Modular buildings that are used for temporary buildings can be taken apart and moved
  • Walls are stronger than regular wall with drywall on a stick house


  • Builders need shipping clearance to ship modular homes on highways and roads for delivery.
  • Little opportunity for onsite inspection by the homeowner since the modules are manufactured at the factory.

Some useful links to check out

Modular Home Building benefits

Why Modular

Elite Homes

C. Stick

This is the traditional method of home construction. These homes are framed on site utilizing lumber and in some cases pre-formed trusses and beams to construct a home.


  • Traditional design and construction methods
  • Many builders and trades people available and trained to build these homes.
  • Changes and customization easier to accommodate during construction
  • Homes can be designed to environmental standards such as R2000 in Canada.
  • More choice of finishing materials available than other homes
  • Depending on whom you talk to, stick homes may be cheaper to build than other construction methods.


  • Onsite construction is required for all walls, floors, and roof including the basement walls, which are framed and concrete poured on site.
  • Some builders claim stick built homes cost 16% more in labour, they use 25% more wood fibre and take 37% more construction time to complete as compared to panellized homes
  • Onsite construction waste must be hauled away.
  • Quality levels more difficult to maintain with onsite construction and multiple trades people.
  • Construction schedule impacted by weather and late arrival of material and trades people.
  • A 2 x 6 framed wall has an R Value of R-14, while other systems are more efficient.

Useful Web Links

The Dream Home Source

D. SIP (Structural Insulated Panels)

Structural insulated panels are an insulated material sandwiched between two layers of structural material. Fibreglass is used and also Oriented Strand Board for the panels. They come in a variety of thickness and sizes.


  • High performance insulated panels reduce energy costs of the home.
  • Energy costs can be reduced by up to 50%
  • A 6.5" SIP wall provides an R value of 23 compared to a 2x6 framed wall with an R-14 value.
  • Green house gas emissions are reduced by up to 50%
  • No mould in the cavities to cause health related issues
  • Polystyrene is totally inert and therefore gives off no gases to cause health problems
  • Fast growth trees are used in construction of the panels, saving slow growth trees
  • Framing is reduced and SIP's arrive pre-cut.
  • Labour savings compared to stick built homes due to panels manufactured in factory conditions and homes assembled quickly.
  • Vapour barriers are not required saving additional time during construction.
  • Waste removal common with stick built homes is reduced.
  • Drywall cracks are virtually eliminated
  • SIP products from appropriate manufacturers are ICBO certified to provide stability in high winds and earthquake situations.


  • Can be more expensive than traditional stick built homes
  • Hiring an experienced builder is critical

Useful Web Links

SIP Building Systems

Structural Insulated Panels

E. ICF (insulated concrete forms)

Insulated concrete forms are foam forms that tradesmen stack into the shape of an exterior wall. Re-enforcing bars are added for tensile strength and concrete is then poured inside the foam to create an insulated concrete wall.


  • Walls are solid, long lasting that resists the ravages of time, wind and even fire
  • Two layers of insulation provide a better insulated wall than plain concrete and stick built homes
  • The combination of concrete and insulation provide an R Value of R-17, as well as thermal mass contribute to an energy savings of 25% to 50% vs. wood framed houses.
  • Walls also provide sound insulation as well, proving peace and quiet away from the outside noise.
  • Concrete walls designed to proper specifications will withstand tornadoes, hurricanes and fire.
  • Tests on the polystyrene foam used in the walls is treated so that it will not support combustion
  • Some insurance companies will provide discounts for this type of building system.
  • There is less repair and maintenance over time.
  • ICF walls contribute to environmental savings during construction with less waste and also by energy savings due to increased insulation
  • ICF walls can by customized to build in curves and angles, and any exterior can be attached including a brick veneer.
  • ICF systems are accepted by building codes in Europe, the USA and Canada
  • Labour savings and material savings contribute to economical ICF homes.


  • Can be more expensive than traditional stick built homes
  • Hiring an experienced builder is critical

Useful Web Links

Self Build Innovations


F. Concrete Block

Hollow concrete blocks are cemented into place to form a concrete block wall. Insulation and or re-enforcing bars are added with concrete to the interior of the blocks to form a strong tensile wall.


  • When concrete block walls are filled they are nearly identical to poured concrete walls.
  • Concrete blocks can also be obtained with interior insulated blocks and treated to be water resistant to provide a dryer wall and higher R value as well
  • Rigid foam insulation can also be placed over the concrete block walls and siding systems including stucco can be applied to the rigid foam insulation.
  • The concrete mass is on the inside, which moderates temperature swings storing heat and coolness as the temperature swings.


  • Concrete blocks do not provide a solid wall, unless the space in the block is filled with re-enforcing bars and concrete.
  • Horizontal wire fabric can also be placed between the concrete blocks to add tensile strength to resist horizontal compression from the earth around the home.
  • Provisions for water drainage need to be made with all below grade concrete block walls to avoid leakage.
  • Onsite construction is required with concrete wall construction.

Useful Web Links

Concrete Masonry Units

Poured Concrete vs. Block Walls

G. In Conclusion

There does not appear to be a definitive clear leader in terms of which building system to use. There are many variables for homeowners and builders to consider and building systems must be evaluated for the location they will be used in as well as availability in your area. Our conclusion is for anyone building a home and considering the various options, have each building system priced out and compared. A decision can then be made based on the actual firm price that is quoted, plus the advantages and disadvantages that have been mentioned that cannot be measured in dollars and cents terms.

A simple example is illustrated by the cost for delivery of materials. If you live in a relatively remote area compared to the factories that manufacture modular or panellized homes, you may find the deliver costs to be higher than expected compared to a regular stick based home.

As always we urge you to visit the useful web sites we have provided to learn more details about this interesting and complex subject.

2. Thought For The Day - Giving

If there be any truer measure of a man then by what he does, it must be by what he gives.

3. Subscription Information

This newsletter was send to you because you visited our website and completed a subscription form.

To Be Removed
If you do not wish to continue receiving this newsletter please click the link at the bottom of this newsletter and follow the removal instructions.

To Subscribe
Was this newsletter forwarded to you and you wish to subscribe. To be put on our mailing list send a blank e-mail to . Your address won't be shared with anyone else.

To Change Addresses

Do you wish to change the address this newsletter is mailed to? To do so, you should process a remove request for the email address you want removed, and you must send a subscription request using the email address you wish the newsletter to be sent. Follow the above instructions for subscription and removals.

House-n-Home is a division of Todd, Michael and James, Inc.
4620 Derby Lane   
t Doylestown, PA 18901
215-965-4332 (P)   
t 215/766-2887 (F)    t
© Copyright, 2001-2004, Todd, Michael & James, Inc.,  All rights reserved

|   Privacy Policy   |   Links   |   Affiliates   |   Newsletter   |   Testimonials   |   Photo Album   |   Site Map   |   Order   |