ADU Builders

There have been more businesses in Los Angeles that specialize in ADU development as granny flats have become more popular. Most individuals are unaware of the fact that construction firms like ADU Builders frequently focus on developing various types of ADU installations. Of course, there are other ways to install a tiny granny apartment in your LA property’s backyard. Prefab ADUs, notably modular or panelized prefabs, are an excellent alternative to the conventional stick-built ADU. We won’t elaborate much on this in the introductory note, but you might have even spotted some builders like us experimenting with 3D-printed granny flats!

Prefabricated ADU Construction

There are two different types of prefabricated construction methods:

  • Modular Construction
  • Panelized Construction
  1. Modular Construction

Using this method, the entire ADU is constructed in a factory, shipped to your backyard, and then raised atop the pre-constructed foundation. The manufacturing companies build the ADUs in the shape of box-like modules that have interconnected walls, ceilings, floors, plumbing, and indoor fixtures. After being transported to the location, the modules are then lifted by a crane and set on the foundation.

  1. Panelized Construction

The second prefab building technique is panelized construction. Usually, the framing package is manufactured in a factory and delivered to the construction site for assembly. There are a few ways that panelized construction is distinct from modular construction.

  • With panelized construction, companies only create the ADU’s outside shell at the factory; the interior is then disassembled into flat panels that may stack on a flat bed. Similar to how modules are put together during modular construction, these panels are put together on a pre-built foundation.
  • Unlike modular prefab structures, panelized prefabs do not require the interior and exterior treatments put together. Besides, they don’t have other components installed, including plumbing. After the prefab panels have been joined together on-site, these finishing treatments are implemented.
  • Construction methods such as panelized and modular are valued differently. Traditional site-built homes will be assessed similarly to panelized homes, although modular homes will often get appraised for less money.
  • Modular ADUs cannot be modified. A few different floor designs are available to you, but you cannot rearrange the walls, doors, or windows. You cannot move either a bathroom or a kitchen to your favorite place.
  • We recommend panelized construction because it allows you to fully customize your ADU while still enjoying some of the economical gains of having your framing package manufactured and assembled in a factory.

Stick-Built Granny Flats

The third technique is stick-built ADU, which is primarily an alternative to the first two prefab techniques. Generally, a stick-built granny flat is constructed with wood materials on your property. “On-site” in this situation would be your property backyard. The majority of homeowners choose the stick-built options since they are less knowledgeable about alternative construction techniques. Before making a decision, it’s essential to understand the advantages that each provides.

Differences between Stick-Built and Prefabricated ADUs In Terms Of Durability

Some individuals believe that prefabs aren’t durable because of their speed of processing and efficiency. The ADU manufacturers face minimum challenges in bulk production while supposedly maintaining quality. In reality, prefabs are more enduring than stick-built homes. Due to the procedure they go through, prefab makers have to make them more robust in real-time than a conventional stick-built ADU.

The prefabs’ modules or panels must be transported on a truck moving at an average of 60 mph before being hoisted off the trailer and erected on the base with the assistance of a crane. Prefabs demonstrate their resilience before they are even finally released from the factory for commercial trading. They prove their durability by enduring all the banging and movement that takes place during the production procedure.

Value Addition by Prefabs and Stick-Built ADUs

Prefab ADUs do increase the value of your home, but not nearly as much as the typical stick-built ADU. There is, however, a workaround for this. A hybrid ADU can be created by combining prefab building technology with conventional stick-built technologies. The great thing about it is that stick-built and hybrid ADUs appraise at the same value. Building a hybrid can also be more affordable, depending on the property and ADU built on it.

Which Is More Cost-Effective, Prefab or Stick-Built ADUs?

Considering that prices vary for each ADU and the property separately, it is challenging to provide a definitive response to this query. Prefabricated homes appear to be the more affordable choice when comparing prices. Prefabs allow you to cut costs on labor and production while possibly lowering material costs as well.

However, you must account for additional prefab costs, such as those related to transportation and hoisting for erecting the equipment on the project site. The majority of prefab ADUs often cost a little less to construct, although not remarkably less. Again, everything depends on the specific ADU and the concerned property. You can schedule a free ADU strategy with a member of our company to determine the best course of action, given your unique circumstances.

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Steel And Wood: A Logical Comparison

Utilizing steel can help make prefab construction more affordable, especially when using panelized construction. For several reasons, prefabricated ADUs are moving significantly away from traditional wood construction and inclining toward steel. In the following areas, steel prefabs are superior to wood prefabs:

  • Cost of production
  • Manufacturing time
  • Sustainability
  • Durability

These domains are elaborated further:

  • Cost of Production – Construction expenses for framing can be reduced by up to 50% by using steel rather than wood. Steel requires less material and labor than wood.
  • Manufacturing Time – Wooden constructions must be undertaken by hand. Therefore, the shop floor needs skilled workers who understand how to frame it, cut it to size, and drill-hole the same. Steel construction businesses have framing capabilities, which leads to a quicker procedure, and they don’t require experienced employees on a higher payroll.

On the other hand, wood frame manufacturers necessitate skilled staff with high-cost overheads. Due to the framing technology, creating a steel-framed ADU will involve less material and labor, which together lead to reduced costs and shorter manufacturing times.

  • Sustainability – There are three “R”s, viz, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Steel fulfills every requirement for sustainability. It allows you to “reduce” costs since you can utilize less material, as you are already aware of it. Let’s now examine “reuse” and “recycle.”

88% of structural steel is made of recycled materials, and at the end of its useful life, structural steel can be completely recycled. Contrarily, wood leaves roughly 20% of waste after production, compared to steel’s 2%. A steel-framed prefab ADU can be the best option because of these advantages in terms of time, cost, sustainability, and durability.

A Brief Rundown

The three primary ADU construction methods are stick-builds, panelized prefabs, and modular prefabs. Although stick-builds and prefabs both have unique advantages, Prefabricated ADUs have been gaining popularity in the ADU industry.

Though not by nearly the same margins as the traditional stick-built ADUs, prefab ADUs do raise the value of your Los Angeles home. However, there is a solution to this problem, and it involves a construction strategy called hybrids.


These facts will surely satisfy your query about what type of ADU build is right for your Los Angeles home. Our team members can assist you in choosing the best solution for you during a free ADU planning conversation by appointment or over the phone. We can also put you in touch with reputable prefab or stick-built ADU manufacturers, designers, and architects who focus on top-grade project requirements in Los Angeles.

By Syed Khubaib Saifi

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