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Timber’s Prefab Advantage: How Offsite Prefabrication and Wood Construction can Boost Quality and Construction Speed

Timber’s Prefab Advantage: How Offsite Prefabrication and Wood Construction can Boost Quality and Construction Speed

Prefabrication is not a new concept for architects, but its usage is evidently on the rise. With today’s limited spatial capacity and need for cost efficiency, the industrial strategy of architectural production has shifted towards an all-around-efficient approach, in some cases assembling projects in a matter of days or weeks [1][2].

Prefabricated wood components, used in both wooden frames and mass timber constructions, have helped solve many design and engineering challenges. In addition to material and time efficiency, reduced waste, and cost control [1][2], prefabricated wood elements offer the advantages of high performing and energy efficient passive designs [3].

© Moelven Limtre © StructureCraft Builders © Ronnie Leone Timber’s Prefab Advantage: How Offsite Prefabrication and Wood Construction can Boost Quality and Construction Speed + 8

© Lawrence Anderson
© Lawrence Anderson

What are offsite prefabricated structures & what is their fabrication-to-installation process?

The practice of prefabricating building elements was first adopted in the United States in the past century. Post World War II, there a need for affordable quality housing which led to a boost in "kit-of-parts buildings". Nowadays, innovative digital tools are making prefabrication much easier.

© Moelven Limtre
© Moelven Limtre

The use of prefabricated material provides the developer with a low-priced, sustainable, and efficient project. To be able to carry out the construction in the shortest time possible, reduce maintenance, and avoid waste of material, there must be a defined process of construction, one that respects the architectural approach and integrates all the structure’s facilities. Concise planning standardizes the process of construction and decreases on-site assembling time. In addition, the controlled environment the components are being fabricated in produces high quality and precise material [4]. After fabricating and preparing the wooden components in the workshop, the pieces are sorted, loaded onto trucks, and taken to the site for immediate assembly.

© StructureCraft Builders
© StructureCraft Builders

Characteristics of prefabricated timber projects

© Bokoko.com
© Bokoko.com

Design Flexibility

Since the assembling is done off-site, prefabricated projects give clients numerous alternatives to standard residential structures. Each client has the ability to choose a specific design and integrate any service he/she desires. Since wood is a versatile material [5] with several design possibilities, the material provides the client with an array of design selections and finishes.

© Ronnie Leone
© Ronnie Leone

Efficiency

With prefabricated projects, efficiency is an almost universal advantage. For those who live by the mentality of “time is money”, these structures promise lower construction costs at a quicker schedule. The building foundation can be poured during the time the wood fabrication company is preparing the structure’s components at the workshop. Since the structure is being produced within a factory, the number of technical mistakes is much lower than regular construction projects, saving time on adjustments and redos. In addition to speed, the budget of prefab structures can be easier to meet due to lower redundancies and waste in both material and time. While building components may seem more expensive up front, the total installed cost after on-site construction is minimized [6].

© Moelven Limtre
© Moelven Limtre

Sustainability

The sustainable initiative of these projects stems from their reduced amount of waste, efficient environmental performance [7], and material versatility [8], creating a great connection with the outdoors. The biophilic attributes of wood help improve human well-being, as well as promote environmental consciousness.

To learn more about Passive House and Prebricated Wood Buildings, earn and learn with Think Wood ’s continuing Prefab Units ( Prefab CEU ).

[1]: Prefabricated Wood Construction Shows Promise, NAIOP, Development Magazine, 2019.
[2]: Off-Site Studies: Solid Timber Construction, University of Utah, Integrated Technology in Architecture Center, College of Architecture and Planning, 2015, p. 32
[3]: Passive Approaches to Low-energy Affordable Housing Projects – Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography, Canada Housing & Mortgage Corporation, 2017, p.7
[4]: Off-Site Studies: Solid Timber Construction, University of Utah, Integrated Technology in Architecture Center, College of Architecture and Planning, 2015, p. 32
[5]: Design Criteria For Increasing Building Flexibility: Dynamics And Prospects, Sadafi, Nasibeh & Mohd Zain, Muhammad Fauzi & Jamil, MD, Environmental Engineering and Management Journal. 13. 407-417, 2014,
[6]: Prefabricated Wood Construction Shows Promise, NAIOP, Development Magazine, 2019,
[7]: Comparison of Environmental Performance of a Five-Storey Building Built With Cross-Laminated Timber And Concrete, Sustainable Building Science Program, University of British Columbia, 2012,
[8]: Low carbon construction systems using prefabricated engineered solid wood panels for urban infill to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Lehmann, Steffen, Sustainable Cities and Society, 2013

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About this author
Cite: Dima Stouhi. "Timber’s Prefab Advantage: How Offsite Prefabrication and Wood Construction can Boost Quality and Construction Speed" 15 Nov 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/927380/timbers-prefab-advantage-how-offsite-prefabrication-and-wood-construction-can-boost-quality-and-construction-speed/> ISSN 0719-8884

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