How They Build in Sweden: Panellized Prefab

Architect Greg La Vardera of Lamidesign (see his Plat House on TreeHugger here) writes about how different construction is in Sweden, quoting a correspondent:

"The houses come on trucks from rural places in Sweden. The windows are in, the insulation, wiring, wallboard where possible - every thing - the pipes, the wiring systems, the doors, stairs ... everything has been engineered and rationalized to reduce labor, find energy and material economy and work with the method of construction where stuff is pre-assembled as much as possible inside a building and then "erected" or installed on the site under very compressed schedules. These houses go from slab to dry in and locked inside of a week"

Greg then describes how it works in the factory, how everything is panellized, plumbed and wired, with just a few pieces of drywall left off to do the connections. So why it is so hard to do these things here?

"There is not genius in this, but never the less its near impossible in the US. Lets look at why.

First off we have issues with construction inspection conventions in the US. Construction must be inspected before it is insulated, closed in, and the underlying work is obscured. Framing, plumbing, and electrical work are all inspected at this point....This is essentially an administrative obstacle, but real enough. This obstacle does not exist in Sweden.

Second are issues of products and standard construction practices. In Sweden products are designed to facilitate this panelization. In the US they are designed to be installed in the field. This purposeful design of construction products allows the Swedes to optimize their process. They are not fighting with the construction to break it into panels, like we would here."

There are a lot of people who think that a recession is a good time to rethink, retool and revise the way we do things to be ready for the rebound. Perhaps we should be using this timeout in the residential construction industry to look at the way we build and fix it. ::Lamidesign