©2013 Green Building Advisor. From The Taunton Press, Inc., publisher of Fine Homebuilding Magazine.
I have observed a number of questions asked in this category and read many GBA articles on the topic. I have also heard of lumber shortages from super storm Sandy and challenges from snow storms and previous ice storms. Here are some ideas from our building project (agreenhearth dot com) and experience:
Panelized construction can save money and time and the whole house package is good for owner - general contractors. Pacific Homes put together our package so that we got the materials cheaper than we could buy them (pacificbuildingsystems dot com). Their experienced advice was helpful in making the decisions needed to put the package together. Since we don't own a truck, it was handy to have everything delivered to the site without have to make hundreds of trips to the hardware store. We found one contractor who could put the package together which minimized the general contracting work (plumbing, excavation, concrete and electrical, septic and well were the main other contractors.) Pacific Homes has more buying power and has access to the best lumber, much of which is eco certified. They can build a variety of wall panels and truss systems in their factory, where it is dry and assembled with precision. Then the panels go up very quickly. They have their own smart wall system which is like a framed version of the SIP wall, but they also built our staggered stud walls. They have experience building homes all over North America world so they know about seismic resistance and cold Alaskan winters. Our projected building cost is about $110 / square foot (we are general contracting the project ourselves and have some site milled lumber for the porch, flooring and exterior and interior trim.) Our walls will be R40, attic R60, R 20 beneath slab, some triple glazed windows.
Modular homes are another affordable option at about $100/square foot. Now you can put together multiple units (with some design limitations) that look like a regular house. You could add some exterior insulation (and attic, sub-slab insulation, air sealing etc ...) and have a more energy efficient product.
Check out freeportindustries dot com for one example of a modular builder in BC.