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Napa-based construction supplier Central Valley has launched a prefabricated-wall division and plans deliver its first framed panels to a home rebuild in Santa Rosa’s wildfire-devastated Coffey Park neighborhood.

This is the latest North Bay company to move toward building sections or rooms of a home that are trucked from the factory to the jobsite to be assembled. Reasons often cited for this alternative to the traditional method of “stick framing” lumber piece by piece at the job site is a lack of skilled labor, less waste of ever-pricier materials and a construction timeline that can parallel site preparation — rain or shine.

Central Valley based its new wall-building group in a newly opened 35,303-square-foot manufacturing facility at 14275 Cacheville Road in Yolo northwest of Sacramento. Heading the division is Paul Kinser, general manager for the company’s production division, which includes the facilities in Woodland, Yolo and American Canyon.

Builders increasingly are requiring framers use prefabricated walls, rather than framing the walls on-site, he said.

“Our competitors provide prefab walls, so some of our customers were buying their lumber elsewhere,” Kinser said. “At first, it was one or two builders. But it continues to grow in fervor, so we realized we needed to get into this game.”

Central Valley has a couple of contracts with large nationwide builders, but most of its commercial customers are framing contractors.

“They’re looking for methods to get these units built using less manpower,” Kinser said.

A key part of prefabrication is assembling the skeleton of a home in a plant, a process called table framing. In Central Valley’s new plant, software specifies to the computerized saw where to cut lumber and to the plant crew how to lay out the pieces on assembly tables and nail them together.

The factory environment helps boost efficiency in use of material and labor time, Kinser said. Each table has a crew of four. Three can be apprentices, with a foreman overseeing the work and teaching them how to frame.

“It serves a couple of purposes,” Kinser. “It allows us to do prefab walls and table framing, but it’s also equipping young men to be framers, to be able to go to the job site and market their skills.”

The division currently has a crew of 10 working three framing tables, each able to turn out 550 linear feet of walls daily. That could be equivalent to a house. The goal is to have five tables operating with crew of 30 in about a month.

The first delivery of prefab walls from Central Valley arrived in Coffey Park on May 21, and workers from R&R Framing erected the first floors of two homes. The Henderson, Nevada-based framing contractor order panels for five homes in the wildfire-devastated neighborhood.

While manpower is a concern for R&R Framing, speed is a bigger reason to go prefab, according to Eduardo Magallon, an estimator in the company’s Rancho Cordova office near Sacramento.

“R&R Framing is known for building fast, and a lot of companies are looking to complete houses in a faster way,” Magallon said.

With a number of jobs in progress in the southern, eastern and northern parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, the contractor revisited the prefab walls as the way to compete the Coffey Park homes as quickly as builder APM Homes of Santa Rosa desired to get fire survivors back in their homes, he said.

While the Coffey Park homes are the first single-family homes R&R Framing has completed with prefab walls, the company now is using them on three large multifamily housing projects, Magallon said.

The speed increase for framing via prefab is considerable, he said. A crew can frame up to one and a quarter homes per day by on-site methods. With the walls delivered preframed, the same crew can raise five houses per day.

But prefab comes at a steep cost for framing contractors, Magallon said.

“Sometimes, you don’t make the same profit with prefab walls, because someone else is doing the labor,” he said.

Started in 1955 as Central Valley Builders Supply, the company has warehouses in St. Helena, Napa and Healdsburg, and production yards in Woodland and American Canyon. The idea for the prefab plant has been on the drawing board for several years, Kinser said. Before the Great Recession, the company had a plant for making structural trusses to order, but demand for such premade components fell with the housing market.

Then about a half-dozen years ago, a contractor that framing an 1,800-unit apartment complex in Silicon Valley rented space in Central Valley’s American Canyon yard to prefab walls, buying lumber as needed. When that project wound down, Central Valley hired the man who was overseeing that prefab, Pete Yanez, to start up and run the new wall prefab division.

Central Valley is getting requests from contractors to prefab other components, such as arches over doors and stairway stringers, Kinser said.

Other North Bay home prefabbers are working on the North Bay rebuild of the more than 6,000 homes destroyed during the October wildfires in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. Santa Rosa-based HybridCore in April delivered modular rooms from a plant near Sacramento to a home going back up in Coffey Park. In March, Southern California startup Plant Prefab is working toward two projects in Santa Rosa for fire victims.

Factory_OS opened its 275,000-square-foot plant on Vallejo’s Mare Island earlier this year and has been considering rebuild projects.

Contact Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.