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.