There are construction methods that are used only in isolated areas of the country. In masonry construction, prefabricated brick panels fall into this category. Some firms have been using this system for over 20 years. Prefabricated brick panels are conventionally-built masonry walls or elements that are hung onto the building as panels. These panels are prebuilt masonry, not precast panels with embedded thin bricks. Panels have great design flexibility. Panels can incorporate precast pieces (such as for windowsills) and even steel embedments for mounting windows. Complex shapes, such as sloping sills, arches, corbelled soffits or articulated parapets that would be nearly impossible on the jobsite are easily built in the factory. Since every panel is custom-made, each one can be different. On a precast panel, if every form had to be different, the cost would skyrocket. Cost is one factor to consider, and brick panels are especially economical on tight sites with tight schedules. Since prefabricated-brick-panel construction requires so little onsite masonry work, it consumes a lot less space than conventional brick construction, and the onsite congestion is greatly reduced. Because the panels are made indoors, construction can proceed 24 hours a day if necessary. The panels can then be erected in nearly any weather conditions. This allows the building to be closed up much more quickly than with site-laid brick. Another big advantage is that scaffolding virtually is eliminated since the panels are set by crane. Scaffolding can be a major expense on a tall building. In the western United States, prefabricated brick panels have two additional advantages over laid-in-place brick due to the regions' emphasis on seismic performance. First, since brick panels are reinforced, they perform as a structural element, unlike typical brick veneers. Second, they have an outstanding ability to be isolated from the building frame. Prefabricated brick panels are not right for every job, however. Some architectural designs simply don't lend themselves to panelization. And on buildings with straight flat walls, wood frames or fewer than three stories, field-laid brick usually are the most economical alternative. Historically, very few problems arise during construction or afterwards with prefabricated brick panels. Occasionally there may be a problem with inadequate stiffness in one of the supports, so that it fails when the panel's dead load is applied. There have been a couple of cases of rust after several years that caused brick to spall but these were due to a poorly constructed connector pocket that allowed water to pool on the connector. To guard against this, many connectors now are made from galvanized or stainless steel. A successful brick-panel project requires the contractor to be involved from the very start. Then he works to develop a system that provides the look the architect wants and meets the structure's needs in the most economical way. This includes a drainage system, insulation, vapor barriers and fire sealant. Prefabricated brick panels offer many advantages for certain types of buildings. Currently the only companies in the United States that produce brick panels on a regular basis are Barkshire, Pardue and Vet-O-Vitz. Although there are other contractors who have used this construction system, and others who are interested, they hesitate from a lack of knowledge and confidence. And, as with any new method, there is resistance from owners and building departments. Despite the difficulties, the masonry industry would benefit from expanding the use of this system. The article also includes information on how brick panels are built and reinforced and how panels are transported to the building site. There is additional information on how prefabricated brick panels are designed and how drainage systems are provided.