The Pros and Cons of Panel Built Homes

Posted by Jamie Kline on Apr 14, 2022 4:07:00 PM
Jamie Kline


Panel built homes represent a happy medium of the three most common home construction methods. 

A hybrid of sorts, panelized construction combines the customizability of stick building with the efficiency and speed of modular building.

Before making a major investment, it’s not uncommon for prospective new homeowners to take a deep dive into the building methods for constructing their new home. Quite frankly, it’d be irresponsible not to. 

As a panelized home company that’s helped plenty of new homeowners realize their dream home, we’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons of panel built homes as we’ve heard it from past clients. 

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4 Pros of Panel Built Homes

It’s hard to define all of the pros of the panel build process as panelized construction offers something valuable to every homeowner.

For most owners of panel built homes, the top benefits of this construction method include: 

  1. Plenty of customization options
  2. Flexible site selection
  3. Efficiency 
  4. One point of contact  


1. Plenty of Customization Options

When you construct a panel built home, you have design freedom that’s not available with modular construction.

Panelized home construction starts in a factory, with the panels comprising the structure manufactured to exact specifications. Unlike modular homes, which draw from a limited set of floor plans that are hard to modify, it’s easy to make wall panels and other components of a home that meet your design vision. While stick building does offer the same level of customization as panel building, it’s a time-consuming process, with most of the “heavy lifting” happening at the build site. 

Side Note: All Barden homes are 100% customizable. 

With panelized construction, homeowners are involved in every step of the process and aren't limited by sizes, shapes, or materials. In essence, your wants and must-haves (within reason) are all fair game for your panel built home’s design. 

2. Flexible Site Selection 

It doesn't matter whether your home lot is in a subdivision or on rural land, any property is a good fit for a panel built home.

Able to fit into tighter spaces than other types of homes, panel built houses are ideal for crowded subdivisions.

Additionally, when building in rural areas, it may be hard to find a full team of experts who are equipped to assist you in every aspect of home construction. Skilled subcontractors can be hard to come by, too. Panelized construction eliminates the need for a large construction crew and plenty of subcontractors to build a home -- most are built with a small crew and a few specialty trade workers. 

Resource: 5 Orientation & Design Considerations for Your Custom Home

3. Efficiency 

Considered an eco-friendly building alternative, panel built homes deliver on the efficiency front in several ways:

  1. Using fewer materials and made with precision technology, human error and scrap product are greatly reduced during the in-factory fabrication process. 
  2. Built using modern construction materials and methods, panelized homes are more energy-efficient
  3. With all the home’s components delivered to the building site ready, crews are able to get right to work, spending less time on actual construction. 

4. One Point of Contact

Panelized construction simplifies and streamlines the custom home building process. That's because there's usually only one point of contact for the homeowner to interface with.  Our Barden Independent Dealers fill this role when building a Barden home. 

That's more, your point of contact manages various suppliers and individuals out of the home building process, allowing the homeowner to focus on other things. 

Every step, from financing to construction, is coordinated through your panel building partner and their team of experts.

Wondering what each step of the panelized home building process looks like? Our Custom Home Building Guide has everything you need to know about choosing a Barden home as your next home.

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2 Cons of Panel Built Homes

There’s no 100% perfect home construction method. Perceived shortfalls of panel built homes include: 

  1. Potential for higher costs than modular 
  2. More homeowner involvement 

1. Potential for Higher Costs Than Modular

Depending on the design of your house, panel building may be more expensive than modular building. There are a few things to note about the potentially higher cost when comparing modular vs. panelized homes. 

  1. The more a panelized home is customized beyond basic floor plan adjustments -- think adding dormers and gables --  the greater the chances are for increased expenses.  Keep in mind that the more features added to the home, the better value you'll get. 
  2. The materials used and engineered during the panel manufacturing process are more refined, controlled, and precise than traditional building and those used by most modular manufacturers. Remember: the money that you spend on those materials is not wasted by the quality depreciating because they are exposed to the elements during traditional building.

Additionally, once you move into your panelized home, you don’t need to worry about your windows gapping and allowing for a draft or your roof caving in due to snow load. All of that is accounted for during engineering during the panelized home process, and will save you money in repair or energy costs in the long run.

Modular home manufacturers are undefeated in the "small, simple, and cheap" space when there are no adjustments made to a floor plan. However, once customization enters the picture, the price of a modular home goes up significantly. 

When it comes to a panelized home vs. stick built house, panel built homes are generally less expensive when all costs are considered.

2. More Homeowner Involvement

For some future homeowners, their vision for their level of involvement drastically decreases after signing off on the final floor plan. Anything beyond that seems like too much. 

From our perspective, is more involvement by the homeowner during the entire custom home building process such a bad thing? 

Building a custom home is one of the biggest investments you can make -- most custom homeowners only do so once in their lives. Being that you’re the one paying for the project and will live in the home, wouldn’t you want to ensure that the final product is exactly how you want it?

They say that any decision not made by the homeowner is made by someone else. With such a large and important investment, don't you want 100% of the decision-making power?


Panel Built Homes for Streamlined Design & Construction 

As a home building method designed for efficiency and customization, panelized construction makes creating a custom home that’s truly yours a streamlined process. 

Taking all the factors of panelized construction into account -- both the pros and cons -- a panel built home maximizes your investment while keeping you firmly in the driver’s seat throughout the entire project.

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This piece was originally published in 2019 and was recently updated to reflect industry trends. 

Topics: Panelized Construction, Behind the Scenes, Budget, Technical Specs, Process, Price, Site Prep

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