Finding good help has always been tough, and the current boom economy has made it tougher. I tackled a recent labor problem by hiring a company to panelize a 2,400-square-foot house. By shifting the labor burden to the panelizer, I only had to hire an inexperienced helper and pay for some crane time, rather than assembling an entire crew. We erected the shell in four weeks, or about the same amount of time it would have taken an experienced four-person crew to stick-frame the same structure.

I shopped around among several panel manufacturers before settling on Sprowl Building Components in Searsmont, Me. -- a relatively small shop that was willing to work with my custom design, rather than trying to steer me to a preset package. The company will also modify its framing details to suit customer preferences, as long as the details...

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