Many people may be tempted into thinking that, because it is offered by building supply centres, that prefab wood fence panels are a slick way to build a fence. They are attracted by the price and the perceived time saved.
The reality is that it comes at a hidden cost. Don’t forget that you must still purchase posts and concrete. Your labour charges for setting the posts will be higher due to the fact that you must get every post set in the exact place in order to accommodate the panels. Or you must attempt to juggle every post and panel to install everything together. You don’t want a space between post and panel, and the panels must be trimmed (very troublesome with lattice) if posts are too close together. Building in place after the posts have been set is much simpler and less aggravating (priceless).
Fence brackets can also be utilized with the built in place method where as they cannot with prefab panels. Fence brackets are thought to be flimsy, and when visible, not that great looking. The reality is that they are not that noticeable when the galvanizing weathers and dulls a bit. The advantage to using brackets for attaching the stringers to the post is that the brackets will flex if the post twists because of drying and keep everything together, instead of pulling screws out of wood and falling apart.
Since the panels, which have labour built into them and must still be sold at an attractive price point, have to have savings for the seller somewhere. That would come in the form of inferior and thinner wood. Add to that the fact that they are stapled together rather than screwed and you now have your “savings”.