Most of the prefab houses that we show on TreeHugger are the high-end, architecturally jazzy type, usually modular with big boxes towed down the road. But it isn't the only way to prefab. Visiting Construct Canada, I noticed a video of a house being built by Brockport Home Systems that builds floor and wall panels in the factory, and assembles them on site. While the houses are pretty ordinary, many of the benefits we ascribe to prefabrication, such as increased quality and reduced waste, all apply here. Robert Kok P.Eng, Director of Research & Development, explains:
Once the panels are built, we transport them directly from our Brockport facility to the site. Our goal is to enclose the home as quickly as possible to protect the interior from the elements. The difference in construction time is dramatic. In fact, the overall construction process becomes safer and more efficient, reducing energy consumption and material waste.
I was surprised to see the roof being framed onsite but on the ground, instead of on the roof as is conventionally done; after all, the trusses are prefabricated already and go together very quickly. The Brockport representative explained that framing roofs is a dangerous job, and the carpentry is often sloppy as the workers are often balancing while they work. By framing the roof on the ground, they get better accuracy and can do the work while the rest of the house is being framed, saving a lot of time as well as improving quality.
Brockport reiterates some of the points I often make about the benefits of wood construction, and looks forward to building code changes that will let them build multifamily structures:
Few can deny the ecological benefits of building with wood. Wood outperforms steel and concrete because it requires less energy in production, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, releases fewer pollutants into the air and water and generates less solid waste.
If you don't want to watch the whole video, got to 6:00 and see a fast-motion clip of the assembly of a house.