You could have a look at this recent discussion.
Top Down Design Question
Similar situation to what you're trying to do, doesn't require advanced assembly module. I've used this technique for support frames made out of extruded aluminum struts (80/20, Rexroth, Misumi) and it's been a really good time-saver.
As you suspect, it takes a bit more work in the beginning, but when you need to make changes, having everything determined by the "master" assembly saves a huge amount of time.