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Help Finding SIPs


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By Chris in Bear, DE on 1/1/2008


Hello Everyone. My name is Chris and my wife and I are looking to start building our home before summer of this year. We are from New Castle, DE. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on a good SIP manufacturer. So far I am interested in FOARD Panel and Porter SIPs. Any comments would be appreciated.

Also, if someone has built with SIPs already and could provide me with a few "pitfalls" to watch out for that would be great also.

Thanks everyone.

 

 


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By David in Oklahoma City, OK on 1/2/2008


A couple of suggestions. Avoid a company called EZ-Build.  Better known as SleazyBuild. We made the mistake of signing with them and it has been painful and expensive. Six months into the project and we still do not have our roof installed.

Second, whoever you go with, confirm every dimension on every panel. As bad as it has been, it could have been worse if we had not found several major errors that the SleazyBuild engineers missed.

Third, consider 2x6 construction with offset 2x4 studs and foam insulation.

David

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 1/6/2008


From my experience, a manufacturer like Winter Panels is a good place to start, or the sips.org website

I prefer high-density foam to EPS. If you are looking for even more environmentally friendly look for the panel from Agriboard - but their freight cost would be prohibitive to be competitive, I suspect.

Panels are easy to build with if you follow a couple basic rules. Avoid plumbing on the panel walls, work with the material dimensions rather than forcing framing sizes, make sure your foundation is laser-level.

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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 1/7/2008


We are using Insulspan: insulspan.com  We found out about them from the major timber frame companies that use them.  We also became aware of them through "This Old House" who has built several SIP homes using Insulspan.
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/7/2008


SIPs are bulky to transport. So, it's good to keep the transportation distance as short as possible.

As others have mentioned, Winter Panel and FOARD are pretty close.

Murus is relatively close to you. They offer PUR panels with camlocks.

murus.com

There's also a local company (local to me, here in Maryland) that sells PACE SIPs.  I know, I'd never heard of PACE panels either. They seem like a reasonable panel made by a smaller company.

I think that 84 Lumber may sell them as well.  

It seems to me that the specific panel you use may not be as important as the quality of the installation. If you're hiring a crew (which I assume that you are), then I'd suggest that finding a good crew is your first priority. Once you locate a crew that you are confident in, let them suggest which panels to use.


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By Martin in Orem, UT on 1/11/2008


We are looking at PUR SIPs, but haven't had much luck in finding any manufacturers in the West. We are in UT, and while EPS SIPs are made relatively close by, we are looking for the best deal on polyurethane. Any suggestions? We have already looked into the companies provided by SIPA. We are pretty impressed by the PUR manufacturers elsewhere in the country, but if freight costs are a huge factor, and we'd love any info on any manufacturers this side of the Mississippi.

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By Martin in Orem, UT on 1/11/2008


When you talk about getting a good crew for installation of SIPs, what skills/knowledge are you looking for, especially in areas of the country where SIPs are not as common and everyone will have to be trained? Please elaborate on your ideal crew.

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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 1/11/2008


Ideally a crew that has worked with the exact brand of SIPs that I'm using. An experienced crew can put them up in two or three days... an inexperienced crew up to 10 days. Time is money. Fortunately, I found one such contractor that specializes in timber frames with Insulspan SIPs and comes highly recommended. I wish there were multiple contractors with this experience in the area so the bidding could be more competitive.
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By Scott in Ellicott City, MD on 1/16/2008


Chris,

Any (and every) thing you want to know about SIPs is available here:

greenbuildingtalk.com/SIPS

Good luck,

Scott

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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/16/2008


Hi Martin,

  As Pat suggested, I would look for a crew with SIP experience. Even if you have to pay a crew to travel to your site, I'd rather have them than a crew that was learning SIPs at my expense. Just my opinion. 

  My point was really that you first need to find a crew that you have confidence in. (How you do that is a personal and regional issue) Once you've done that, then you can ponder your SIP options.

  You might start by contacting SIP suppliers and see if they can refer you to any SIP homes within driving distance. If you find some, maybe you could contact the owners and see if they can recommend a crew.


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By Myleen in Austin, TX on 2/4/2008


Try SIPs Team USA, they had great prices and they are based out of Georgia: sipsteamusa.com

I'm also building a SIP home in Austin, TX and have documented my experience. We haven't started yet, but I'm in "love" with SIPs. I'm also having a trying time with finding a SIP framing crew and have some tips with that. If you want to contact me, go to my blog or e-mail me through here.
sjodindreamhome.blogspot.com

Thanks,

Myleen


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By Rachel in Jones, OK on 7/15/2008


I am looking to build our first home on a tight budget. I would like to go green. ICF and SIP are new terms to me. We would like to build a two-story house built into a hill where the garage and basement is on the first floor. The main living area is on the second floor. It may not be a true basement, in the fact that two sides maybe uncovered (garage and backside). We like the Country Farmhouse with a Victorian style. I have many questions that I hope someone can help me with.

Is there good affordable architect in the Oklahoma City area? Is there a good affordable builder in the same area and how do you know if they are good? Is geothermal and solar cost effective? I am getting the impression "No." Is there a ICF or SIP builder in the Oklahoma City area? Is it worth it? Are there any other energy-efficient ways to build a home and who does it?

RA


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By Myleen in Austin, TX on 7/15/2008


A quick rundown on the difference between SIPs and ICFs. They are built with different materials. SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) are panels made up of Styrofoam sandwiched between two skins (usually made with Oriented Strand Board, which is a very strong, engineered-wood composite) and ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms) are made up of Styrofoam contained in concrete forms. The main objective of both these materials is the superior insulative values over conventional stick framing with batt insulation.

They are the hot ticket green building materials because they will save you money in energy bills in the long run. But here are the pros and cons. SIPs are more economical and faster to build than ICFs. SIPs can be framed in a matter of days, ICFs need its time to form and cure. ICFs are also difficult to do on the second story of the house. Some have even done ICF on the bottom and SIP on the top to get around that problem. ICFs are a bit stronger than SIPs, but SIPs are four times stronger in wind code than stick. Given a hurricane or tornado, you'd probably want to be in an ICF home, but a SIP home will withstand hurricane speeds. Both have high insulation values and  both low or no air infiltration. You will need a better ventilation system with both these types.

Go to the following links for ICF and SIP information:

sips.org
forms.org

As you can see, I lean more to SIP for more economical reasons. If you want to check out the progress, design, trials and tribulations of building a SIP home, please feel free to visit my house blog:

sjodindreamhome.blogspot.com

Whatever you decide, do a lot of research and don't just go for bottom-line $ calculations. If this is a home you'll want to keep for a long time, think of cost savings and maintenance in the long term.


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By Myleen in Austin, TX on 7/15/2008


See my other post about ICF vs SIP. But I forgot to add a couple of things.

SIP or ICF can be used on any style home, so that's up to you on how it will appear on the exterior. However, I have been told that ICFs are easier for people who want to use arched doorways or use stucco like walls on the interior.

Also, you don't have to stick to someone in OK to do your design. Many architects will work via the computer or phone. The thing I suggest is to find an architect or house designer who will specialize in SIP-friendly floorplans. Regarding geothermal -- it's super expensive, but it gets paid back in 5-10 years in energy savings. It's a proven technology that allows you to conserve energy as opposed to creating energy (like buying into solar panels). The geothermal heat pump also gets replaced every 25 years, versus the normal HVAC unit needs to be replaced every 10-12 years.

Regarding finding a framer... if you're having a hard time finding one to do either, find one willing to do ICF or SIPs or an alternative green methods. Then call your supplier of SIPs or ICFs and ask if with your materials, will they supply a trainer to come out and train your framing crew. Also ask what the fair price is for framers to charge for the framing, otherwise, these framers can take advantage of you and charge you more than what it's worth because it's new and foreign to them. For SIPs, it's fair for them to charge you about $4.25/sf (I'm in Austin, TX, so you can adjust accordingly).

Again, go to my blog if you want to learn about more green ways or methods to add to your home. I am glad to hear that you're interested! PM me if you need any more help. Regards, Myleen


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By Kirk in Newcastle, OK on 5/18/2009


Did you ever find a good architect or ICF/SIP builder? I am in Newcastle and would like to build on a tight budget.


Thanks,

Kirk

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