New Study Compares Home Building Techniques

The Structural Building Components Association (SBCA) recently announced the results of its 2015 Framing the American Dream (FAD) study. What the researchers found may come as a surprise.

Last year, SBCA built two identical 2,900-square-foot homes—one using traditional stick-built construction, and one using building components—to compare the amount of labor hours, board feet used, and waste accumulated (in cubic yards) for each house.

In this case study, and in the first one, which was conducted 20 years ago, the building component home was drastically better in all three categories. This time around, the study showed that:

  • A crew can frame two and half homes with structural building components in the time it takes to stick-frame one house. Watch a time-lapse of both construction processes.
  • It takes 75% more lumber wood product to stick frame a structure than to frame it with components.
  • A stick-framed house creates nearly 30 times more jobsite waste than a component-framed house.

“Without a doubt, Framing the American Dream was one of the most worthwhile things SBCA has ever done,” said Jason Blenker, president of Blenker Building Systems and a past chair of the NAHB Building Systems Councils. “The way in which this study has been undertaken should open the eyes of builders to the value of bringing component framing to their particular project.”

Blenker, who is also a member of SBCA, spearheaded the newest study. Read the full story here.

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  1. Bill says:

    In the study, was the amount of time used to make the components in the factory included in the time to frame the component house?

    I trust that all the factory lumber was included; how about the waste in the factory?

    Was any allowance for the equipment used to move the components compared to the equipment use to stick frame.

    • NAHBNow says:

      Hi Bill,
      These are all great questions, and will be addressed more fully in future study updates once all of that information has been compiled and verified. But for starters:

      1. No, the numbers in the initial study only focused on the job site time improvements. The SBCA does have all the other data, and will be releasing a full report/study in a few months. They wanted to get this information out as quickly as possible to show the dramatic savings on a job site, which is most important to builders.

      2. Yes, all lumber that went into both projects was accounted for, including waste in the plant, which is very negligible, as automated saws and optimizing software reduces the waste to around 1-2%, resulting in 98-99% usage of material.

      3. No allowance for transportation of materials to the job site was included, nor was the crane accounted for that the component crew used to install. Also the forklift that the stick framers used was not factored in.

      – Jason Blenker, Blenker Building Systems, Inc., and former NAHB BSC chair

  2. Michael Schettine says:

    This is the same result of twenty years ago. No labor cost for plant operation, no transportation cost, no crane cost either. How can this been seen as apples to apples comparison? For twenty years they could have complied this data -if the data was positive. Builders are smart, they know their cost/flexibility are secure with onsite framing. I think the study dose more harm than good if the data is apples and mango’s! I’ve been saying this for years…Bill has it right.

  3. Wayne Mayo CCB#44029 says:

    My parents built a component house in 1966 out of Vancouver Washington built by Christianson Construction if I remember correctly. Nice Home.

    Walls came completed. Trusses as well of course. But the floor , the bathrooms, the kitchen, all had to be hand built.

    Seems like Chrisitianson should have become a huge player if the concept really worked.

    Modular Homes are the ultimate “component” home. Unfortunately, quality is questionable.

    The market for on site stick built homes with the ease of change and customizing will always exist.

  4. Bob says:

    I enjoyed reading the article, and I enjoyed reading the comments. I have spent a lifetime building custom deck projects, and I know that there are big chains out there that pride themselves on volume, but still the quality is not only questionable, but also and more importantly, it is the small business owners that make this country go round. I think I agree with the comments, but I know that there is a buyer for each, therefore a market for each.

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