Panelizing Passive, Part Two: Setting a House in Coastal Maine

EcoCor owner, Chris Corson, guides a wall panel onto the slab.

The crew eases the panel onto the slab, guiding it over a plastic plumbing pipe.

EcoCor panelized the second floor frame as well as the walls for the house. Top, the crew sets a floor panel section into place.

The crane lifts the largest gable end-panel off the trailer.

A crane swings a superinsulated wall panel into place on the insulated slab foundation in Blue HIll, Maine. Previously set panels have already been plumbed and braced.

A crew member guides an end wall panel into place. At rear, the rest of the crew is plumbing and bracing the previously-placed panel.

With all the walls set, plumbed, anchored, and braced, the crew starts to crane floor sections into position. A crew member tethers the panel with a rope to help guide it and prevent spinnng.

After framing the second floor deck (a five-panel assembly), the crew starts the second story walls at the gable end farthest from the crane. Gable end-panels were the heaviest panels in the modular package.

After setting a wall panel, a crew member unscrews the nut and washer from the clevice used to secure lifting straps to the panel.

A closer look at the clevice and bolt used for lifting the panel.

Air-sealing for the panelized version of this wall system relies more heavily on caulks and sealants than does the site-built version, where continuous membranes would be applied after the framing is complete. Here, a crew member applies sealant to the foundation slab where the wall plate will meet the slab.

A crew member applies sealant to the “marriage plate” at the end of a wall panel in preparation for setting the adjacent panel. Sealant at panel intersections is a key element in the air-tight performance of the Passive House package.

Applying more adhesive sealant to the end of a wall panel before setting the panel into place. The air barrier layer for the Passive House wall system is located at the sheathing plane of the inner stud wall in the system. Where studs in that wall system meet floors or other wall studs, sealant has to be used to complete the air-tight layer.

Adhesive sealant is applied to panels at the last moment, just before the panels are placed. Here, company owner, Chris Corson, applies a bead to the underside of the wall plate of a second-story gable end wall section as the wall panel hangs suspended from the crane.

Wall sections are framed to exact tolerances in the shop, and need to be carefully placed in the field in order to maintain close tolerances during the set. Here, crew member George Reefer bumps a wall section toward the chalk line. Walls are pinned in place using powder-actuated concrete nails before being permanently secured with site-drilled anchor bolts.

Crew member George Reefer taps a wall section into place while company owner, Chris Corson, prepares to set a powder-actuated fastener to pin the wall.

Corson drills a hole through the wall plate and into the slab with a hammer drill in preparation for setting an anchor bolt.

Corson drives an anchor bolt into a pre-drilled hole in the foundation slab.

Walls have to be precisely plumbed in order for the factory-built floor sections to mate up properly with the walls. Here, crew member George Reefer sets a bracing board near the slab, driving the rebar spikes attached to the board into the compacted fill.

A crew member drives structural screws to attach the lower end of an adjustable brace to the bracing board.

A crew member secures the upper end of an adjustable brace to the wall panel.

Precisely plumbing each wall panel is a critical step in setting the building, because the floor panels for the structure are already built, and can’t be modified to fit a wall that is not perfectly set in place. So the crew carefully dials in each wall panel by twisting the adjustable brace until it’s perfectly plumb.

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