Home Building in WNY: Panelized vs. Modular Timelines

Posted by Jamie Kline on Jul 22, 2020 8:00:00 AM
Jamie Kline

After my recent conversation with a former WNY modular home builder, I met with two different customers who each had very different circumstances.

What did both future homeowners have in common?

They were curious about the time it takes to build a modular home vs. a panel-built house.  So I put together a timeline comparing modular home building to Barden panelized construction.  

While there are similarities between both construction methods, there are indeed distinct differences -- especially when it comes to the amount of time it takes to build and the ability to fully customize a home.  

Let’s explore why:

Customer 1

What this customer lacks in finances, they make up for with flexibility. Customer 1 has:

  • Tight budget
  • Clear idea of what they want
  • Would like some home customization, but is OK with making concessions for time
  • Would like to begin building yesterday

Design, Planning, and Permits

This phase of construction in both methods takes 2-3 months if the customer picks a standard plan “off the rack,” obtains stamped plans, and applies for building permits. Permits can take anywhere from 24 hours to 6 weeks to obtain -- this largely depends on the town you’re building in (and sometimes who you know in the permits office).

Financing, Production, and Site Prep

Modular Construction: 3 ½ -4 ½ Months 

Because the customer has a tight budget and does not have the cash to pay the production deposit up-front, a 2-month delay is added for the customer to secure financing. 

The home takes 6 weeks to manufacture, but could be delayed by 1-2 months if the factory is backed up or if there’s a production issue.


Barden Panelized Construction: 1-2 Months 

Barden Building Products doesn’t require a production deposit. We do offer a discount if our material package is paid for weeks ahead of delivery as well as flexible payment terms at a slightly interest higher rate. 

This means we begin production regardless of the customer’s bank releasing their funds. We set this process to take 1-2 months, as we need to schedule site-work contractors and perform the necessary work. A typical home with Barden can be delivered within 2-3 weeks of request.


On-Site Building

Modular Construction: 2-3 Months

While some modular home builders say building a home takes about 8 weeks, that assumes everything goes according to plan. As I’ve found,  home construction rarely sticks to the best-case scenario -- minimal delays add about another 4 weeks to the schedule. 


Barden Panelized Construction: 4-7 Months

The home is framed and weather-tight within 7-15 days and completed like a traditional stick-built home.

Total Construction Times for Customer 1

Under this customer’s circumstances, modular homes take 7 ½-10 ½ months to complete while panelized homes take 7-12 months


Customer 2

This customer is in a situation that’s nearly the complete opposite of our first. They:

  • Have a lot purchased
  • Are paying cash (lucky them)
  • Are unsure of the exact floor plan they’d like
  • Want to fully customize their home
  • Are in a rush, but getting the perfect floor plan takes precedent

Design, Planning & Permits: 6-24 Months

Like for Customer 1, this phase of construction in both methods takes 6-24 months. 

The big difference in the time it takes to complete this stage is the customer’s level of involvement. 

Starting with a standard plan and modifying it, then taking time to visualize the home on the selected lot, then repeating, the customer takes their time planning their future home. Along with the floor plan, the customer researches cabinetry, baseboard and casing profiles, window brands, and more. Every item for the home is custom-made and from outside the manufacturer’s standard catalog. After a long process, plans are stamped and permits are obtained.

Financing, Production, and Site Prep

Modular: 2-4 Months 

The customer has the cash for the production deposit, and work begins right away. The production team must adjust and account for all of the carefully selected materials. As always with modular manufacturers, there’s a possibility of significant delays during high-volume seasons.

Barden Panelized Construction: 1-2  Months

We schedule site prep and excavation while the panelized system is designed and manufactured. The Barden team is used to working with different materials and products and fully customized plans, so there’s no added time in this stage.

On-Site Building

Modular Construction: 3-8 Months

Once a customer decides to customize a modular home, things start to take longer. 

Common custom features usually mean your builder will need to call in specialty contractors across several trades to complete the home. Typical customization features include: 

  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Dormers
  • Attached garages
  • Covered porches 

Specialty contractors may even be called back to the site again as certain items are completed. Every time a contractor isn’t able to complete a job, there are delays. This adds another layer to the organizational complexity. Suddenly the simplicity of a modular build doesn’t seem all that simple. 

Barden Panelized Construction: 5-8 Months

Contractors who work on Barden homes are just contractors, not specialized assembly line workers. 

They’re used to problem solving with different products and materials. Parts of the home that would be built on-site for a modular home are built in Barden’s factory, such as: 

  • Custom roof trusses for vaulted ceilings
  • Garage walls and roof systems
  • Porch roof systems

All customized home components for a Barden home are quickly assembled by contractors who are already required on-site.  

After the home is weather-tight, it’s finished like any other home. 

We’ve added a month from the previous timeline to be fair and account for any unknowns. Aside from anything extraordinarily custom requiring a highly specialized contractor, basic custom features most people expect don’t come with much of a time premium with Barden.

Total Construction Times for Customer 2

Under our second customer’s circumstances, modular homes take 11-36 months to complete while Barden panelized homes take 13-34 months

Construction Efficiency: Panelized vs. Modular Homes 

Many future homeowners I speak with have the notion that modular construction is the headache-free, fastest, and cheapest way to build a new home. 

Although I didn’t dive into the price, customization, and quality differences between modular and panelized-constructed homes,  it’s clear there’s no real edge for modular homes in the time department. We can also see that there’s a lot more room for headaches than even I, as a part of this industry, imagined.

The #1 thing to take away from this? 

The biggest factor in how long your new home takes to build is YOU.

Deciding what the most cost-effective building method is for your project isn’t the same as what works for everyone else. 

Speaking on behalf of the entire Barden team, I invite you to do your research and ask us every question you can come up with. We want to point you in the right direction, even if it might not be with us.

Take a deeper dive into what the Barden home building process is with our Custom Home Building Guide: 


Custom Home Building Guide: Panelized Home Construction & Building the Barden Way - Learn More


Topics: Panelized Construction, Buffalo Home Building, Technical Specs, Process, Floor Plans, Price, Site Prep, Home Customization

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