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SIP Builders in Minnesota?


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By Mike in Willmar, MN on 9/29/2006


Anybody from Minneapolis area build using SIP's -- or do you know anyone who did? If so, how did it go? What company was used for the panels? Was panel assembly DIY or sub?

We're considering building with them, but would like to hear other folks' experiences as we decide.

Thanks!


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By Darin in Plymouth, MN on 9/30/2006


I just finished a set of plans for a home in Forest Lake using SIP's and a permanent wood foundation. We used Enercept Panels out of South Dakota. They worked well with the design and provided timely responses. The house hasn't started construction yet, but looks as though it will go together quite well.

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By Brett in New Hope, MN on 10/27/2006


I too am looking at the possibility of building an SIP house. I have a rough idea of the plan I want to use and it is based on a timberframe house with SIP panels to enclose it.

I understand that SIP's are the timberframe industry "norm" for an enclosure around the timberframe. I also have the possibility of a hybrid design where the main house is constructed of a timberframe which rests on the SIP panels at the exterior walls. All interior walls are then non-load bearing as the load is on the timberframe.

I am in the early stages of planning and am also very interested in hearing from people who have experience with SIP construction. Any information, experience and/or research would be greatly appreciated!
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By Lisa in Onalaska, WI on 2/21/2007


There is a company in Minnesota that makes SIPs called Extreme Panel. I think they're in a town called Cottonwood. They have a website - I think it is just extremepanel.com. I emailed them yesterday to get more information, and haven't gotten a response yet.

We are located in the LaCrosse, WI area and planning to build next spring. I am pretty interested in SIP construction. I'm somewhat concerned about cost and also concerned about finding qualified framers to put the panels together. I'd be interested in any progress you've made in your research in the last couple of months.

Lisa


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By Mike in Willmar, MN on 3/8/2007


Hi Lisa! My wife and I are meeting with Extreme Panel this coming Monday morning (March 12). We're traveling next week, so it will take some time to post an update about our visit, but I'll be happy to do so once we're back in town.

Please keep us posted about any developments on your end.  We have pushed our building plans back to next spring.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/8/2007


SIP's are easy to work with, and the manufacturer or dealer should be able to connect you with an experienced installer.

For info on availability check out the SIP group sips.org

For more O-B and DIY discussion check with our green building section here on this site.

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By Lisa in Onalaska, WI on 3/8/2007


Hi, Mike - Thanks for offering to fill us in on your meeting with Extreme Panel. I would be very interested to hear about that. We are having our plans drawn up right now and plan to start getting some bids after that. Extreme Panel and Enercept are going to be at our local La Crosse building show at the end of this month and we are hoping to get some information from their reps then. The SIPs website that Dale mentioned has some very good information on it. 

It would be great to stay in touch with you, Mike. My husband and I are also planning on O-B'ing in the spring and friends of ours in the area are planning to do the same. 

Thanks again - Lisa


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By Mike in Willmar, MN on 3/21/2007


Lisa,

Our meeting with Extreme Panel went well. We did not feel ANY pressure whatsoever -- the gentleman we worked with realized we are still in the "info gathering" phase and gave us excellent insight into building styles that we could undertake that would be cost-effective with SIP's. He never asked what our budget was, and he never made any suggestions about cost -- and we never asked because we're not really at that stage right now. He actually took us to his own home, which he built a couple of years ago, in order to show us what he did with panels. While his size/style/design is far different from what we're after, we appreciated seeing his place.

I am convinced at this point that doing SIP roofing is the way to go in order to maximize the efficiency that is driving us to consider SIP's in the first place. With that said, the roof will be the most expensive part of an SIP project when comparing building costs only with stick-built. Gable ends are the way to go. Hip roofs will cost you $$$. We brought along a few house ideas we pulled off the Net -- they all had relatively complicated roof lines. We were told that they could do anything we wanted, but with the plans we had, truss building the roof would cost 50% - 60% of what SIP roofing would run. With that information in mind, we are focusing on finding a plan that has a much simpler gable/cross gable roof.

For purposes of perspective, we have five children aged 10 years to 10 months (four older are boys, youngest is our angel). Our main goal is square footage. We currently like a plan that is 3,700 square feet (2,200 main plus 1,500 upstairs), in addition to an unfinished walk-out basement.  Of course, the reality of the entire project costs may force us to downsize a bit... I'd like to get the project done for $350K max. At this point, I don't know if that's realistic or laughable. We own our acreage already, but it will need septic, electrical, well, driveway, etc...

Extreme Panel recently hired a guy who can help with designing and plan drawing. Our next step is to meet with him to discuss our "wish list" and then to hopefully come up with something more concrete for putting together an actual bid.

I am writing this on the road -- we're actually in Rochester.  The Extreme Panel guy we met with said there is a project he would love for us to see that is starting soon in the Red Wing area. If we would be in Rochester a week or two later, the timing would have been perfect to swing by to see construction in progress. If I'm not mistaken, you are not too far from Red Wing, so maybe it would be worth your time to contact them to see about visiting that job site.

I'll keep you posted as we continue to move ahead. Please do the same on your end!


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By Lisa in Onalaska, WI on 3/21/2007


Hi Mike - Thanks for the information from your meeting. Sounds like it was very positive. We are going to go to the La Crosse Area Building Show this weekend. I'll let you know what we learn - as I said before, Extreme Panel and Enercept are going to have booths there. We are fairly close to Red Wing, I would love to see that SIPs project that they talked to you about - we'll see.

The roof information is interesting. I've heard before that SIPs in general are more expensive than trusses, but it is good to hear that there may be some design ways to minimize the cost. I wish I knew that Extreme Panel had a designer on staff before we sent our plans to a designer. When I contacted them, I email-exchanged with Perry Penske and he mentioned that they would be happy to work with our designer and offer tips to make our plans "SIP friendly" but he didn't mention that they had a designer on staff - maybe at the time they didn't yet. 

I don't think your project budget sounds "laughable." We would like a two-story with 2,600 sq.ft. and our max is $240K (for everything but the land - we already own an acre lot that we bought in a country subdivision) including septic, well (shared) and everything else. We are planning to do some work ourselves and would really like to spend less than that. We also hope this is realistic.

When I say that is our max, I mean that we would want to budget less than that in order to give ourselves a decent cushion in the event that we go. When we have plans and bids, we are going to cut back on square footage if we have to.

We have three kids (ages 3 to 8) and would  like as much square footage as we can afford - with five kids I can see why you want the size of house you're thinking about. - especially with four boys :) I think this planning stage is the time to design our dream house (within reason) and that the preliminary bidding process might give us a few reality checks! I still think though that you need to go for the dream at this point :)

I'll let you know what we find our this weekend. Thanks again for your update on Extreme Panel.

Take care - Lisa


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By Lisa in Onalaska, WI on 4/14/2007


Hi Mike - I'm sorry that I didn't post this sooner. I did want to let you know a few interesting things that we heard at the La Crosse Home Show regarding SIPs. Extreme Panel and Enercept were both there - we were impressed with the representatives from both companies.


The builder that put up the "Candlepower" house on this site was there also with the Extreme Panel rep. If you haven't, check out that journal - that owner-builder seemed very happy with this contractor. 

Regarding whether to use SIPs panels for roofing, the Enercept rep didn't suggest using SIPs for a roof unless you have vaulted ceilings. Our floor plan is for a two-story without any vaulted ceilings except the foyer, so this was significant to us. He said that it is more economical to use trusses and then blow insulation into the attic space - he said this would give you very good insulating that SIPs would not improve on much for the additional expense.

We talked to a couple of insulation companies (using products like Icynene that is the same material as the inner part of SIPs but is put into the walls after they are put up) and they said the same thing. So I'm not sure how much you have for vaulted ceilings, but if it isn't much, you might want to consider that information. We will be going with a truss roof I think, even if we go with the SIPs for the rest. This is somewhat of a relief to me, because I have been concerned about the extra expense for the SIPs roof vs. a truss roof. 

That was all I had to pass along for now. We are looking forward to summer (my husband is a high school teacher) when we will have more time to research the house project. If we find anything interesting out, I will pass it along.

Take care -

Lisa


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