A Custom Home Building Guide

Learn About Panelized Home Construction and Building the Barden Way

Chatsworth Manor HomearamaThe time has come: you’ve decided to embark on the journey to building a new home! 


Whether you’re downsizing or upgrading, making room for new family members, or looking for something that better suits your style -- this is an exciting, new chapter in your life.

You’ll probably have a lot of questions before feeling comfortable enough to get the ball rolling and break ground on your new build. Our Custom Home Building Guide is here to help. 

No matter where you are in your building process, or if this is your first time, this guide has the information you need:

Know what you’re looking for? Click any of these links and head instantly to that section of the guide:

Why Build a Custom Home?

Home construction timelineThere’s nothing like having a home that meets ALL of your needs. While the real estate market is full of homes, chances are there’s not one that checks all your boxes. You’ll likely make some sacrifices. 

That’s where custom home building comes in. Designed and built exclusively for you, a custom home is truly your home. 

Custom builds offer a prospective homeowner a variety of benefits: 

Accommodations for accessibility concerns. When renting a home or buying a previously constructed house, it can be costly -- and sometimes impossible -- to adapt this structure for accessibility needs.

Unique architecture and design features. While renovations to existing homes are an option, for truly unique architecture and design tastes, custom builds are the only way to go. Panelized construction gives you endless customization options for aesthetics and build quality.

• Personalized quality control. If you’re purchasing a home built decades ago, it can be impossible to know whether the original build meets the quality you desire in terms of materials, methods, and labor.

Regional considerations are accounted for. When panel building a home, the design department can account for regional considerations such as snowfall amount to ensure performance and durability are optimized. Other factors, such as humidity, can affect the integrity of a home, and materials to optimize for this are accounted for as well.

• Ability to build on almost any lot. If you found your dream lot in a rural setting, it can be difficult to build without a team that can give you a custom floor plan and has experience developing in that area. It’s important to find an experienced team backed by a reputable company. In some rural areas, it can be hard to pull together suppliers and architects since they are so few and far between. A good panelized building company can help streamline logistics

Structural warranty. You’ll want an extra layer of protection for your newly built investment. Through an RWC warranty, structural components of a Barden home are protected for 10 years after construction is complete. The warranty covers structural defects that a homeowner’s insurance policy typically doesn’t. On average, structural issue repairs cost tens of thousands of dollars. An RWC structural warranty can keep a homeowner from paying for structural repairs out of pocket. 

If you’re investing time and money into finding your dream home, why not make it exactly what you’re dreaming of? Custom home building is the best way to make sure all needs, considerations, and preferences are met.

Resource: Unsure if a custom home is right for you? Take our FREE Custom Home Building Assessment:

Is Building a Custom Home Right for You? Click here to get your free assessment!


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Custom Home Building: The Construction Methods 

If you’ve decided a custom home is the right option for you, there are three construction methods to choose from:

Panelized construction
Stick building
Modular construction

Let’s dive into each method.

What is Panelized Construction?

panelized construction for the builderPanelized construction is a hybrid of modular and stick building. Walls are manufactured in 8-12 ft. segments with exterior sheathing installed and then shipped to the job site, where they’re installed. 

Panelized manufacturers are all different. Some use the mass-manufacturing benefits of this method to rapidly construct large tract communities with limited or no customization options. Others offer the benefits of panelized construction as a complete, off-site design-and-build package. 

Take a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in our factory while manufacturing a custom home’s components.

Barden, for example, supplies many of the materials to build the home while offering in-house design services to streamline the process to a single contact point. Unlike modular building, we allow our customers the freedom to purchase and select their own materials if our selections aren’t to their tastes, allowing for designs with no limitations.

Barden panelized construction allows you to choose your building materials and choose your subcontractors and building team -- leaving you in the driver’s seat through the entire process.

By allowing this flexibility, panelized building can offer all of the benefits of other construction methods -- with none of the drawbacks.

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Panel Building Homes vs Modular Building for Custom Homes

Modular building and panel building are often confused for one another. Though the methods are similar, there are distinct differences in how homes are built under each method, as well as the final results produced.

About Modular Home Building

Modular homes are fully constructed in a factory, all interior and exterior features included, in large segments or “modules.” They are then shipped to the building lot and placed on a waiting foundation.

These homes come in a wide range of quality: from a small, “single box” ranch all the way to 4,000+ sq. ft. homes shipped in several segments. Depending on the manufacturer, the homes may be built to flimsy code minimums or engineered to the high standards of a luxury builder.

Modular homes benefit from:

• Speedy construction times
• A single point of contact for the customer
• Choice of lot

However, they do have their drawbacks, with the biggest being design restrictions due to being built in full segments. For example, ceiling heights are limited and cathedral/vaulted ceilings require more costly site-built construction. Open floor plans are possible, but design may be limited to navigating around support beams and other structural requirements.

Modular Vs. Panelized Homes

From the outside, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between modular vs. panelized homes. Many of the considerations for choosing one method over the other has to do with the process involved in creating the home.

There are downsides to modular building when compared to panel construction. Although modular building allows for customization, it’s limited to the selections provided by the manufacturer. Design is constrained by what can be engineered to fit on a trailer for shipment.

During shipping, fixtures installed at the factory and structural integrity can be damaged. It’s also common for a modular home’s construction to experience delays by the crews required to do the finishing work on the home, negating the benefit of speedy initial assembly.

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What Is a Stick-Built Home?

For most people, stick building is what usually comes to mind when thinking of custom home construction. It’s one of the oldest building methods out there. 

Stick-built homes are constructed entirely on-site. Raw materials are delivered, cut to size, assembled and installed on location. Stick framing offers large flexibility of design and material selections.

Panelized Homes vs. Stick Built 

Panel home consturciton benefitsIn both the case of stick building and panel-built houses, the home is assembled on-site. However, their differences come down to what happens during construction. 

While panelized construction allows for a fast build, stick building simply does not. Fit and finish are left entirely to the skill and care of the building crew. Raw materials are left exposed to the elements until assembly.

Stick building is slower than panelized construction, which means your new home is sitting unenclosed and unfinished while exposed to the elements. And all the while, additional time racks up interest on your construction loan.

Drafting and design of stick-built homes can be done by either an architect -- a $5,000-$10,000 up-front cost for the customer -- or offered by the builder. Choosing the right designer here can make or break the entire project. The smallest oversight of engineering details can result in drywall cracking, floor bounce, or other structural issues.

Download This Guide

Ready to download your copy of our Custom Home Building Guide? Click the button below to get a digital version of this page! 

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Financing Your Barden Home

Often, one of the first things our customers wonder when looking into building a custom home is how much it will cost?

The most frequently asked question we get from prospective new homeowners is: “How do I pay for it all?” 

There are two ways to finance custom home construction: 

  1. Get a new construction loan from a bank
  2. Secure financing through a third-party lender

We encourage you to research both options to find one that best suits your needs. Your independent dealer is also a great resource for potential solutions.

1. Construction Loan

A construction loan is a short-term, higher-interest loan given to pay for construction. 

Funds are initially released in chunks, called draws, as construction milestones are completed. There can be anywhere from two to 10 draws in a construction loan. A loan structured with fewer draws may leave you responsible to pay contractors up-front until the required milestone is met to release the next draw. 

There are several types of construction loans available: 

  • Construction Only: As the name implies, this type of loan only covers the costs to actually build the home. With these loans, you’ll have to come to the table prepared. Construction-only loans don’t cover design, drafting expenditures, or some permit fees. They also don’t pay for the cost to purchase land where a home is built, though they may be paired with a separate loan to buy your lot. These loans also require immediate repayment upon construction completion. Once crews are finished building your house, your loan comes due. It’s up to you to find a funding source.

  • Construction-To-Permanent: This type of loan is almost identical to a standard construction loan. The major difference is that once your home’s construction is completed, the loan automatically converts to a standard mortgage. The big benefits of a construction-to-permanent loan are convenience and peace of mind. With the loan automatically turning into a mortgage, you won’t be searching for a solution to pay back construction costs or signing off on another mountain of paperwork.

  • Owner/Builder: These loans are given to future homeowners who act as their own general contractors. This loan type is harder to secure. However, there are lenders with programs available even to the inexperienced owner/ builder. Be aware that guidelines for these programs may be more strict, requiring higher credit scores or a larger percentage of owner-supplied funds contributed to the project. The lender will thoroughly vet the owner and their ability to successfully complete the project. Similar to construction-only loans, owner/builder loans require repayment upon build completion. 

New construction loans are issued with a time limit, usually 6 months to 1 year, to complete the project. Choosing an experienced builder or general contractor is necessary to make sure the project is completed on time.

Panelized construction can happen very quickly compared to other building methods. This can lead to less time accruing high construction loan interest.

Where Do I Get a Construction Loan?

Future custom homeowners obtain construction loans from banks. But be aware:  Major banks tend not to offer these types of loan products.

Many local and regional banks do offer construction financing. Loan packages usually only include 2-4 draws in their packages. 

2. Third-Party Lenders

Third-party lenders take construction loans completely out of the banking system. Though a fairly regulated industry, third-party loan providers don’t have the same level of oversight or protection as banks. That said, there are plenty of reputable third-party lenders that focus exclusively on construction loans. They’re able to offer similar rates, terms, and conditions as a bank. 

Choosing from the many third-party lenders can be time-consuming. And each has different stipulations for its loans. 

Download Our Financing Guide

We've produced a handy guide, The Consumer's Guide to Custom Home Construction Financing, for anyone looking to finance a new panelized construction home. Click the button below to download:

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The Steps to Building a Custom Home With Panelized Construction 

After financing is secured, there are six steps in the building a custom home checklist with Barden:

  1. Design & drafting
  2. Engineering
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Shipping
  5. On-site building
  6. Finalization 

1. Design & Drafting

A single point of contact makes it easier for you to coordinate your building efforts. This is why even though we primarily handle the manufacturing of walls and trusses for the home, our work with the customer starts in the design phase.

Our in-house drafting and design services team works closely with you and your building team to craft the perfect home. Every aspect of your home’s floor plan is poured over and considered -- from the internal color scheme to the type of lumber used.

During this phase of your custom home project, you’ll work closely with our team to:

  • Come up with a preliminary design and refine your plans 
  • Review & approve a technical draft of your home’s floor plans 
  • Create a list of materials to be ordered so manufacturing can begin

Unlike other custom home companies, we allow our clients the freedom to purchase and select their own materials. If our selections aren’t to your tastes -- you’ll have plenty of time to find the materials to realize your vision with absolutely no limitations.

2. Engineering

Tom G. Head of engineering and production design.

After the design phase is complete, the home plan drafts are passed along to our in-house design department.

Our experts carefully review the selected materials to ensure they’re perfectly suited to handle their intended purpose for the home. All factors are taken into consideration, such as: 

  • Local building codes
  • Safety regulations
  • Efficiency standards

Even the strictest of building inspectors doesn’t intimidate our experienced team.

Where applicable, our design team considers regional concerns -- such as load-bearing capacity for average area snowfall amount, or windows that offer greater resistance to high winds and drafts.

After the final home plan is complete, it’s digitally rendered using our Mitek E-frame engineering program, which helps determine:

  • Load-bearing points
  • Lumber/truss plate requirements

The software essentially offers a 3D puzzle model for the manufacturing team to work from. 

What’s accomplished during the engineering phase? A precision-engineered model for the manufacturing team to follow.


3. Manufacturing

Barden-Worker-3Once the plans are finalized with engineering, manufacturing your home’s components starts. 

Everyone on our shop floor follows the digital design plan for the home to the letter, ensuring precision during every step of the manufacturing process.

We use a variety of machines and technology to aid in precision building and reduce the chances of human error, including:

With the home’s materials stored and assembled in a factory setting, the integrity and quality of building materials are maintained without the risk of weather degrading them.

Resource: For a full look at our manufacturing process, check out our article, The Six Steps of Panelized Construction.


What’s accomplished during the manufacturing phase? 

  • Wall panels are built
  • Roof trusses are built
  • Webs and cords are built
  • All components are wrapped, labeled, and stacked for shipping


4. Shipping

Barden Building Products Shipment

With your home’s panels and other components assembled, their next stop is the building site. A specially equipped fleet of trucks ships all of the build’s components to the site safely and securely.

Side Note: As we’re completing work in our factory to your home, the building site is being prepared. Typically, this involves:

  • Installing a foundation 
  • Clearing and grading
  • Putting in utilities 

What’s accomplished during the shipping phase? Materials arrive at the building site intact and ready for assembly


5. On-Site Building

Structural Insulated PanelEach truck driver is equipped with a set of your home’s building plans that correspond with the components they’re transporting. Once they arrive, the plans are passed to the foreman of the framing crew, who unloads everything and begins assembly.

Since each component is labeled in accordance with the engineering plan, builders quickly assemble the pieces together accurately. Again, this step is similar to building a giant 3D puzzle.

After the walls and trusses are put into place, the interior construction starts.

What’s accomplished during the on-site building phase? The home is assembled in accordance with the plan agreed upon by the team during the design phase.


6. Finlization

The rest of the components for your new home are delivered to the job site, such as: 

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Siding

These final deliveries are coordinated by a dedicated Barden employee to ensure all materials are delivered on time and in the correct quantities. 

What’s accomplished during the shipping phase? Final building components arrive at the building site intact and ready for assembly.

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The Barden Homes Team & Independent Dealer Network

To create your dream home, our in-house departments coordinate with other area specialists to build a team of experts.

We handle coordination and communication with team members, enabling a single point of contact throughout your building experience.

There are three branches to your custom home building team:

1. Barden in-house professionals
2. Barden Independent Dealers
3. Subcontractors

1. Barden In-House Professionals  

Our in-house team is responsible for designing the home, manufacturing the framing, and supplying all other materials to finish the home.

The materials we supply include:

• Windows
• Doors
• Kitchens
• Siding
• Roofing
• Interior trim
• Garage doors
• Deck material. 
• Stairs 

There are some materials we do not supply, but this does NOT mean that our customers are left to source these items on their own. Our dealers have trusted subcontractors and suppliers to recommend/enlist for these jobs. However, the customer may find and choose their own if they have preferred vendors or contractors.

Some of the materials/services that we don’t supply include:
• Site prep/excavation
• Well and septic services
• Electrical
• Foundation/masonry/concrete
• Drywall
• Insulation
• Flooring
• Plumbing and plumbing fixtures
• HVAC ducting, A/C units, furnaces, radiant heating

Please note that Barden Building Products doesn’t supply or assist with appliances, landscaping, fencing, or interior design either.

The Barden in-house team provides support for our dealers to ensure their projects run smoothly.

2. Barden Independent Dealers

Next to you (and your vision for the perfect home), Barden Independent Dealers are the most important part of building with Barden. 


They’re your custom home building guide, working with you every step of the way until move-in day

As members of the Barden family, our independent dealers are each unique and operate as independent companies. 

Some act as consultants, helping to facilitate the entire home-building process. Consultant-type dealers don’t perform any of the actual construction. They often work with customers who are acting as their own general contractor. 

Other independent dealers are contractors. The major difference between a contractor dealership and a consultant is that the contractor actually builds the home. 

Though each their own business, all Barden Independent Dealers perform the following tasks:

• Provide expert advice and guidance for selecting a building lot, designing your home, and selecting materials and finishes
• Coordinate all Barden activities, such as drafting, ordering materials, or scheduling production of your home’s framing

Our dealers offer a wide range of construction options -- from turnkey homes to assisted DIY. 

Contact us to learn more about our Barden Independent Dealer network.

3. Subcontractors

Subcontractors are specialists who complete specific parts of your new home’s construction.

There are several types of subcontractors that can be called in for a custom home building project:

• Framers
• Roofers
• Masons
• Plumbers
• Electricians
• Excavators

Whether working with your dealer’s recommendations, selecting your own, or taking on these jobs yourself, you’re in full control of this aspect of your project.

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Ready to Get Started Building Your Custom Home?

If you’re interested in the panel building process, but have a few more questions before you get started, get in touch with our team to set up a time to meet

If you’re ready to embark on the journey of partnering with Barden Building Products, contact us -- our team is ready to get to work! We’ll be in touch quickly with the next steps for beginning work on your dream home. 

Not Quite Ready? Take This Custom Home Building Guide With You! 

We get it -- there’s a lot to building a custom home. That’s why we’ve made our Custom Home Building Guide downloadable for you to revisit later. 

 Click the button below to get your copy! 

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