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By Mark in Valencia, CA on 7/12/2005


After many months of planning a home and plan review by more than one SIP manufacturer, we have dumped them.

"Why?", you ask.

It was one day before going to plan check with the county that I was informed that you cannot build an SIP-roofed home and have an attic, or use standard trusses!

As you can imagine, I was very angry to learn this. I am so angry that I decided to go totally stick frame.

So, beware that you can't use a SIP roof if you plan on having a standard ceiling and have an attic, or use trusses.

Regards,

Mark


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By Baine on 7/14/2005


What the heck is a SIP home? Is that a home you drink slow???? Seriously, at least share what your abbreviations mean, thx, cause I don't know and I know a lot about homes.
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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 7/14/2005


My apologies, but I thought people logging onto this board would know that an SIP home is a Structurally Insulated Panel home.

Regards. Mark


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By Baine on 7/14/2005


Structurally insulated, eh? As opposed to a regular panelized home? Or are you saying that is the same thing? if it is different than a regular panelized home, please indicate how it is different, thanks.

Baine


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By John in Erie, CO on 7/14/2005


SIPs are Structural Insulated Panels, which ARE NOT "panelized building" (which, from what I've seen, is not usually done with energy efficiency in mind, but there are good exceptions).  To manufacture SIPS, Urethane or another type of foam is bonded between two sheet material layers, typically sheets of OSB.  T&G material and sheetrock are available in some configurations.

SIPs are manufactured to preset and custom lengths, and are essential the structural components of the wall, with insulation, sheathing, etc. all in one.  They can go up very fast and make an efficient envelope. 

I built using insulated concrete forms instead of SIP, but did do a SIP-ish style roof.  I suspect that your code department probably freaked out because SIP roofs are unvented, hence the apparent problems.
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By John in Erie, CO on 7/14/2005


My roof was conventionally framed with factory engineered trusses and 3/4" roof deck, which had a spray in place open cell foam that is air and vapor impermeable. It creates essentially a one-sided SIP.

There is an amendment to the 2003 IRC that allows for unvented roofs, which are proving to be more efficient than their conventional counterparts. With this amendment in hand, the county easily approved my unvented roof.

Perhaps you can list the details of what your code department objected to, so that other SIP builders can prepare for their processes.

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By Mark in Valencia, CA on 7/15/2005


Go online at insulspan.com

It will tell you everything you want to know.
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By Victor in El Paso, TX on 7/15/2005


I think Baine just gets a kick out of being devil's advocate - he does this on multiple boards. Like mark said "...I thought people logging onto this board would know what a SIP home is..." and btw john mentions what an SIP is on the 2nd post of this thread... just read up on them baine: sipweb.com/learningcenter is a great site; if you have further questions, I'm sure there's people here that can help you...

victor


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By Baine on 7/16/2005


Yes to be honest, I love being the devil's advocate sometimes. :) I actually didn't know what a SIP home was however, and didn't look it up because I wanted to flame our friend here for not including it. It is obvious that there are a lot of noobs here on these boards so its best if we explain amap. (as much as possible) ;)

Baine


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By Randy in Collierville, TN on 7/24/2005


To John,

I am interested in your foam roof.  What made you choose this over a SIP roof or just EPS foam panels?  Since you have conventional trusses,  does that mean the foam is sprayed in between them, so that there is some conduction loss where the trusses meet the decking? What is the R-value of your foam and did you spray it yourself?  I am trying to decide what to do with my roof plans.

Thanks,

Rb 


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/7/2005


One can always enjoy the fact that building departments would rather say "NO" than yes to a hybrid home. Their job is so much easier if us stupid people would just build like all the big corporate builders: cheap and without imagination or innovation.

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By Jason on 8/9/2005


I would suggest that in this situation, it is the building department, not the fault of the panels, that seem to be the real problem. You wouldn't 'want' to use SIP roof panels with trusses (at least not regular ones); there's no point; it'd be two structrual structures together (if that makes sense), but you can certainly get a 'regular' ceiling and an attic with SIP roof panels. A good example of 'trusses' might be something like timber trusses, say, oh, 12 or 16 feet on center, with SIP panels over them. Timberframes are built this way all the time.
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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 8/10/2005


You're right, Jason.  You can have an attic with a SIP home that has SIP roof panels.  The only problem is that when you do this, you have to also heat the attic. That makes no sense to me. The only use for SIP roof panels is when you intend to have vaulted ceilings--everywhere!  Otherwise, you are kidding yourself.

Mark


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By Jason on 8/10/2005


I'm sorry; I don't understand why I'm kidding myself.

Perhaps I misunderstood your question. In general, I completely agree with you; the SIPs form the UPPER portion of the roof, usually on a home like a Cape Cod, or a house that has, say, a walk-up attic. My understanding now (and correct me if I'm wrong), you want something like, oh, a Ranch with flat ceilings, with the roof above to be unconditioned. Is that right?

You actually CAN have that, and I've seen it done, but only in commercial construction (Burger King comes to mind) where they want a very controlled interior environment. There's nothing to say you can't build a roof (the upper part), with SIPs AND condition the upper space, given how energy effecient they are.....and if you really want that energy effeciency down at the ceiling level, you can get other types of panels that are ready made for that installation.

And you could certainly have a flat (or near flat), SIP roof. I guess I don't know what you're trying to design or achieve, so I can't really answer your question (or anger), as well as I'd like to.


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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 8/17/2005


Sorry I didn't read this earlier to answer you.

But, the whole idea of building a SIP home is to save on energy costs.  I just couldn't see heating an attic space.  I also couldn't see using SIP walls with framed roof system and attic insulation because, again, the whole idea of a SIP home is to have a tight envelope.  No can do with a framed roof system.

Anyway, it's moot for me as we have re-designed the home to be framed up and we start actively doing things tomorrow.

Thanks for the inputs, though.

Mark


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By John in Erie, CO on 8/17/2005


Everything is in the details - The Alaska SIP roof failures were because the SIPS were not tight, and moisture laden air passed through them from inside the houses and condensed, and then rotted the roof sheathing.  By the same token, a framed roof with an Icynene insulation will be identical from the sealing perspective, slightly less in that you have an 11" 2x4 conduction bar at internal web locations.  (However, given the R of wood, at that length, it's still very good) -  again, totally depending on how the details of the installation are done - Are the joints between SIPS sealed properly, what about joints/interfaces between roof, SIP, foundation, doors, windows?). 

My blower door test freaked the operator out - He thought his equipment was broken.  Even a stick frame house using conventional materials and barriers will do significantly better with very careful attention to the details during construction.  When you are starting to pick these kinds of nits, and really pay attention to detail, factors such as your vent fan design for bathrooms and makeup air for combustion furnaces are vastly more significant.

Take an often overlooked element - The bath fan - People plumb these from their bathroom out the roof, usually with a metal duct, and then don't look at the thermal path - Right through conventional insulation and behind the sheetrock.  They rely on the typical built-in backdraft dampers in the hood and vent (usually flaps of metal) and call it good enough.  But with a blower door test these will show up, unless of course, the tester seals off all the "normal" leaks that they do when they test - make up air for non-sealed combustion furnaces and water heaters, vent fans, etc...  Now, once the test is done, they uncover them, but it's still an inefficiency.  Alternatively, sealed dampers can be installed in the ducting, and the ductwork insulated....  but I digress.

The conversation here is good, but the details will vary between houses and designs - conditioned attics and unvented roofs have a proven track record in energy efficiency.  Whilst they do not pipe in hot/cold air from the HVAC system, there has been some recent study on the design by the DOE and others.  Looking at the 2004 amendments to the International Energy Code covers them (for good reason), and take a look at most of the Solar Decathlon Entries - They are generally using unvented roof designs.  (SIPS, horizontal ICF, etc.).

The CU Solar team (solar.colorado.edu) utilized the biobased spray insulation I used in my attic to make what they call "bio SIPs" - To avoid the oil costs and drawbacks of SIPS, they have done some significant research in making SIP's green.  (IMHO, while SIP's and ICF are super efficient compared to conventional construction, they are not really Green - They take a lot of resources to make.  Nevertheless, I built using ICF and we're building my parents house now using SIPS provided oil prices don't climb any higher)- Ultimately both help my utility payment...

Imagine my surprise when I saw my insulation guy on the front page of the local paper spraying CU's solar decathlon entry. (They are defending champs!).



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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/18/2005


Using SIP's for the roof makes sense, IF, the structural design takes advantage of the panels' capabilities. Some panels can span 16' without additional support.  AND using SIP's for the roof deck puts your ductwork inside the heated and cooled envelope, and most jurisdictions will let you reduce your duct insulation or eliminate it under this condition.

BUT you have to deal with moisture issues. An overly tight home without adequate ventilation will have mold problems.

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By Jason on 8/18/2005


Well, depending on where you are; I've see 48' roof panels that are unsupported. It all depends on your local loads, the engineering, and the size and makeup of the panels. And mold/moisture issues are no more prevalent in SIP homes or roofs than they are in any other type of correctly sealed structure.

As for SIPs and 'green' building; I guess it all depends on what your definition of 'green' is. If it's based on the initial amount of energy, chemicals, and labor involved; then yes; SIPS are not green. If it's based on the long-term energy efficiency, energy usage, and impact, then yes, SIPS are better than most other building systems, including ICFs. That's proven in tests. So....the question has to be; what is the criteria for thinking of a 'green' building product?

Don't get me wrong here; I'm not trying to be argumentative, and I hope I don't come across this way. I'm an SIP builder and installer. I've done a lot of these projects, but only in residential markets, and have a lot of experience with them.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/18/2005


I appreciate your comments.

Yesterday I was discussing with an ICF rep whether his product was as "green" as he claimed.

His product requires an enormous amount of transportation to my project and concrete is not "green" until one takes long term LCA issues into account.

I gave him the comment that being an "alternative" material doesn't make it green. That's like saying tires are "green', but if you use them as foundation, an ICF, if you will, does that make them "green" or just really good in the LCA consideration?

LCA stands for Life Cycle Assesment, which is a measure of a product's impact and cost over its entire life and takes into consideration embodied energy, environmental impact and other things. We're starting a "green building" Forum and this can be discussed better.


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By Randy in Collierville, TN on 8/18/2005


This discussion brings up an interesting point.  Every house we build, and for that matter, every action we take which seeks to make some order out of disorder, requires that we "disorder" the universe to a greater extent to make our tiny pocket of order (our house).  This flows from the 2nd law of thermodynamics.  Whether its an ICF home, a SIP home, or a conventional stick home, or even just a hole in the ground, more energy has to go into forming it than we will ever get out of it.  Even the hole in the ground requires us to burn gas for the backhoe or trackhoe.  And everything ultimately depends on one thing:  petroleum.  Someday (perhaps sooner than many think), when we are unable to keep finding enough crude to make all of these actions possible,  society as we know it will grind to a halt (barring huge breakthroughs in alternative sources, of course). 
Sorry for the digression, but you pulled my philosophical chain.

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By Jim in Plumas Lake, CA on 8/19/2005


I am going to build my home with SIPs. for those that may not be familiar with them,  here's a link to a site that has a series of videos showing the construction of an SIP home.

ez-buildsystems.com/video

and another SIP video:  ameripanel.com

Also, a lot of the SIP websites will show dates and locations of homes being constructed where you can go and see them firsthand.


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By Baine on 8/19/2005


Hey Jim, Do you know how lenders treat SIP homes? Do they lend on them with the same LTV? Do they consider them as modular or manufactured homes? I saw the panels and the structural integrity does not look that good since there seems to be no up/down beam framing somehow, which I don't think would be the case. I checked the websites you sent and didn't see anything there to show me the support beams, etc. Do you have any links for this?


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By Jim in Plumas Lake, CA on 8/19/2005


Here is a site with a lot of SIP information, forums, etc. sipweb.com/forum

The way I understand it, the structural strength of the SIP comes from the way they are put together which makes them like an I-beam. I can't really explain it beyond that.  But there is plenty of info out there. Try the site above. Also check out precisionpanel.com   If you are in Northern California, they will be building a SIP home in Butte County this month and you can go check it out during construction.  I'm going to go up there as Butte will be the county I'll be building in as well, and I'll be able to talk to the building dept. as to how they handled the "alternative" building materials.

An excerpt from Minnesota Technology Magazine -

"SIPs have been around about 20 years but are only now beginning to catch on," Tobin explains, noting that between 5 percent and 10 percent of the houses built in the United States today use SIPs or a similar product. Acceptance of SIPs, which are slightly more expensive than traditional products, has grown with consumer concerns about moisture and mold in modern homes. For instance, Pulte Homes, which builds about 10,000 homes nationwide each year, is planning to convert to SIPs in the next few years, Tobin notes."

Here's the whole article:  minnesotatechnology.org/publications


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By Jim in Plumas Lake, CA on 8/19/2005


As for how lenders treat them - My lender, INDYMAC is very familiar with the technology - no problem so far.
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 8/22/2005


I've been thinking more about this.  I really don't believe it is a big problem.  Especially in your climate, a little ventilation should be all you need.

If you already have a forced air AC system, possibly with an air filtering system of some kind, then one supply and one return in the attic space should solve the condensation problem.  If you're using a cold water cooling system of some kind, a small ventilation fan in the attic floor would do the trick. 

With a SIP roof, your attic is going to be inside your thermal envelope.  With a little ventilation, that space should stay very close to the temperature of the rest of your house.  You get the added advantage of avoiding loss in your air supply ducts without having to insulate them.  (Assuming you have air ducts for you AC.)

I found this article on the subject.  It's talking more about office building than houses, but the points still seem valid.

 

Figure 1 shows the two units. The frame building has a shallow attic with 6-inch fiberglass batt insulation
laid on top of the ceiling. The SIP unit has a hung ceiling to provide space for the lighting fixtures and
the air distribution duct. Several advantages of the SIP construction are apparent from the sections. First,
virtually all air and heat leakage from the duct remains in the thermal and pressure envelope of the SIP
unit; on the contrary, most of the air and heat leaking from the duct in the AAM frame unit will enter the
ventilated attic and be lost to the outside. (Some other manufacturers of mobile frame buildings avoid
this problem by placing ducts under the floor, but above the insulation.) Second, attic ventilation is not
necessary in the SIP unit because the inside of the roof surface is on the warm side of the roof insulation,

thereby preventing condensation on that surface.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 8/22/2005


BTW That article is from a US Department of Energy laboratory study.  Here are a couple more charts from the study.  In my mind, they are a pretty compelling argument for SIPs.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 8/22/2005


Sorry for the multiple posts.  You can only include 2 photos per post.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/22/2005


Another solution may be to improve the ventilation between your "attic" and living area. Not sure an insulated area with a SIP roof is actually an attic or just an area outside the interior area but within the conitioned space.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/22/2005


My friend, you assume that the hole can't be dug without oil. What about exerting a few more calories and doing it by hand?

There is actually a debate as to whether or not we have become overly dependent on machinery and should go back to basic physical labor.

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By Keith in Tucson, AZ on 10/20/2006


Dale,

I've read your posts about SIPs and roofs, as well as your other posts on green building.

I'm building with SIPs with a non SIPs roof, because I couldn't figure out how to have my design incorporate a SIPs roof.  I'm going to have a slightly pitched flat roof, and plan on covering my roof sheeting with a product called Peel & Seal Radiant Barrier material. This completely seals the outside of the sheeting with no other roof coating required (it's shiny so maybe adding some lightly colored roof coating material painted on).  It is also self healing to nail punctures, so I'm planning on using it under my metal roof for the great room tower. It's 5 mil aluminum with a very strong adhesive seal that stickes like tape, only stronger, and comes in 36" widths.  You overlap each strip on to a part of the previous one.  I'm sure you know of the product.

I've seen several SIP homes under construction in Tucson and they used sprayed foam insulation directly on the underside of the roof sheeting and wrapped down to the inside at the bottom of the trusses where the sheet rock is nailed on for the ceiling.  I was thinking of this also and have read alot of talk about this unconventionable building method being superior, with no venting.  Others say you must vent and also keep the 1st inch below the underside of the roof sheeting clear for breathable venting.

So I'm looking for clarification and more detailed information on spray foam insulation for roofs, flat roof insulation technics, and vented or non vented flat roof design. 

I'm hoping you and anyone else can provide some good direction on this topic.  I'm also interested in green roofs (the kind with plants on the roof) for Tucson.  Any insight or info on this would be appreciated.

Keith


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 10/21/2006


Local code authorities published a report about roof/attic ventilation in 2001. To my knowledge it has not been revised since.

What it says is that under IRC R104.11 "Alternate materials, design and methods of construction" as approved  by local jurisdictions. This only good for below 4000'.

Basically if you insulate the roof deck you do not need to vent the space above the ceiling. And they provide details with the handout. One thing doing this requires is an increase of room ventilation to reduce the chance for condensation forming inside.

When I use SIP's for the roof deck, this is similar to commercial construction where insulation is above the structure, mechanical, plumbing and electrical are planned so they are not in the roof. usually in fur-outs, soffits, interior walls, or underground.

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By Mark in Seattle, WA on 10/24/2006


My design started out with a SIP roof, but then I learned that the engineering was basically the sticking point.  They wanted to  put GluLams under all the panels to hold them.  That doesn't make the panels structural.  Using SIPs for the roof doesn't pencil out unless it's very, very simple (shed or flat).  Use trusses or rafters and spray foam.

Moderate Mark


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By Keith in Tucson, AZ on 10/24/2006


Mark, have you completed your roof  with spray foam insulation?  If so, how did you do it or plan on doing it.  Are you venting your roof, or are you not venting your roof?  If you used spray foam and vented your roof, how did you do it?

I've been trying to decide just how to accommodate the trusses and using spray foam, and if to vent or not to vent. There are many opinions for both ways with no clear cut answer for me as yet. 

Many people in Florida (with high humidity) are using SIPs walls, trusses for the roofs and spraying foam directly on the underside of the roof decking and not venting the space between the decking and the ceiling.  They are swearing by the increased insulating performance without mentioning a concern for mold accumulation in the sealed space (if I understand their comments correctly).  Looking for more perspective and detailed information on this concept.

Thanks for your post, hope to hear more on the matter.  Keith


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 11/16/2006


Building an unvented attic space is an improvement over conventional construction.

One argument against it is the "but I am heating and cooling the space above the sheetrock"... If you insulate the ceiling and the attic space is vented, what temperature is the air? Ever put your hand next to a ceiling that is insulated in the middle of June? In Tucson the air in the vented attic may be as much as 30 degrees hotter than the outside air.

By insulating the roof deck your plumbing, wiring and ductwork is closer to ambient house temperature. It makes a difference on the operating cost of your mechanical system.

Also the pay back period is relatively short. I just priced the two methods out for a contractor. The spray on foam is $1.65/sf compared to $0.50 for FG batts. We eliminated 14 roof vents from the roof on this addition, plus the labor to install them. We also eliminated 14 penetrations through the roof that the roofer charges a few bucks a piece to seal in over above his field cost. And we reduced the potential for leaks around each penetration.

Plus the insulation is done before all the wiring, pipes and ductwork are run so there is a more comfortable work environment during construction.

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By Joe in Ruskin, FL on 11/19/2006


Kieth,

I am wondering how far along you are with your home and using the Peel and Seal product.  I am in Florida and have someone that will be putting up my shell which includes using SIP panels for a flat (slightly pitched) roof that we plan to use as a deck.  I spoke with a number of roofers here about covering it and the option I have decided to use is called Hydro-Stop.  I will be using the Premium Coat system followed by their Traffic Coat system.  It offers a 5 year warranty ( not real long, I know ) but at the end of the warranty, I can pressure wash it and paint on a new layer of the Traffic Coat and get another 5 years out of it.  One issue here is that I must have products that are Miami-Dade approved for possible hurricane purposes and this product is approved for same.  I am also extending the sips above the roof level on 3 sides to form a parapet wall and this system can be applied right up the parapet walls and under the cap.

With the self sealing product you are using, I might consider laying a barrier of that under this system as a little insurance but it might be overkill.

I have also been reading some of your info on CAT wiring, etc.  You are providing a wealth of info to the forum with your posts and I wanted to thank you for being so willing to share your knowledge.

Joe H


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By Keith in Tucson, AZ on 11/19/2006


Joe, thanks for the post.  I appreciate hearing back from you about my posts.  Sometimes I get carried away with my passion for things and wonder if I'm going on to much about my perspective.  Sharing quality information is a big deal for me. 

I just got my footers for my slab dug this week.  I should be putting in foundation forms next week.  I try to plan everything far ahead so I have a better idea of what direction I'm going.  I'm excited about the peel and seal product and have heard outstanding things about it from a city inspector. I haven't gotten much farther on learning more on this product as yet, other than the cost seems in line with my budget.  I hope it is something I can install myself (haven't decided about that yet). I've ordered my SIPs panels and have them scheduled to be delivered around the end of December.  My interior walls, trusses and decking should be done during January.  I hope to be sealing the roof with peal & seal and spray foam insulation under the decking after that.

Are you also using SIPs for your walls?  I've been talking to several people who have experienced installing them.  The SIPs rep says their easily installed one at a time with a few people and a hand crank lift (if needed).  Another says that it's easier to put an entire wall together on the ground (laying flat) and then swing the whole wall into place as every panel is snug fit.  I'm not sure if I understand that point of view as yet.  What are your thoughts?

I would like more feed back from those on this web site who have set up their own SIPs panel for installation techniques that have worked.  I am very curious about the whole process and like to investigate and learn as much as possible.

What phase of building are you at?  Keith

 


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 11/19/2006


Regarding install techniques, I would NOT recommend assembling the wall on the ground then standing it up.

Unless you build a pretty stout support to use there will be some flexing at every joint during the erection process and that will loosen every connection. Besides how would one get the botton side of the joint stapled off?

Adding one panel at a time to the growing wall will also make it easier to deal with hold-downs, bolts, pipes, and wind.

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By Joe in Ruskin, FL on 11/19/2006


Hi Keith,

I am waiting for final architectural drawings which he must have signed and sealed by a structural engineer.  I am using sips for the walls ( galvanized steel sips ) but having a contractor do that portion since I am uncomfortable working at heights and our first floor must be 11.5 feet off the ground ( in a flood zone on Tampa Bay ) and it is a 2 story structure.  With a little luck, I will have the plans to submit for permitting in the next week or two.  Then I will be off to the races so to speak.

From what I understand, you are better off assembling the sips in position one at a time.  I just believe that locking them in position one at a time will keep a tighter ultimate envelope as there is virtually no movement, as opposed to attempting to lift several together where you would need the lifting point in a perfectly balanced spot to avoid excessive strain on the joints.  Just my 2 cents.

I am planning on doing a lot of pics as I go as well as video clips that I will put on a separate web site ( don't want to impose on ownerbuilderbook's bandwidth with the video clips ).

I'll start posting pics once we start breaking ground. I'll also be happy to tell my experiences both good and bad.

Joe H 


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By Keith in Tucson, AZ on 11/19/2006


Dale, thanks for the reply.  Your answer is what I thought made sense and is still my original plan.  I threw out the other perspective to see which way it blew in the wind. 

Any other tips would be helpful.  Would you or anyone you know be interested in being involved or contracting the project of setting up the SIPs for my house?  I'm either looking for a small team of people to do it with me, or a crew to contract it out to.  I'm thinking it would be right after New Years. Thanks, Keith


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By Keith in Tucson, AZ on 11/19/2006


Joe, I agree with your perspective, as with Dale's too. I'll look forward to see your video.  That's a great idea, I think I'll time lapse video the assembly.  I't would be good information down the road too. Thanks, Keith
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 11/19/2006


Keith,

I think Craig would be horrified at your suggestion of assembling the panels on the ground and then TRYING to stand up the entire wall.

As far as a crew and such, PM me with your personal email addy.

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By Bill in Seattle, WA on 1/7/2007


Building ICF homes with steel interior framing, and had been planning a steel raised-heel truss roof with concrete panel decking, radiative barrier, and soy foam sprayed below. (sealed attic) But I notice that it is also possible to build a roof with SIP. I am suspicious that SIP would cost more than my original plan, since my crew would assemble the prefab trussed roof. Also suspicious that a SIP roof would not have as good a fire rating. No wood please, for several reasons. (recyclability, offgassing, formaldehyde, sag, rot, termites, etc) How exactly is a SIP roof made? Does anyone have experience with cost? (need at least R-40, and hopefully much more) Would it support concrete-fiber shingles? What is its max unsupported overhang? Any way to make raised-heel? Does anyone know whether with a sealed attic, ducts up there are considered to be within conditioned space?
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 1/7/2007


There are several variables to consider before going with an SIP roof.
1) spans? pitch?
2) live load on roof? snow? wind?
3) flat or sloped ceiling?
4) what is going to be attached to or in the ceiling?

I have done SIP roofs where 1) the panel was the entire structure and 2) used steel trusses at 6' oc because that was the ideal spacing for the ceiling framing with the panel on top.. SIP manufacturers have different opinions about their product as the roof structure.

One disadvantage of doing panels as the roof/ceiling is what it takes to do the electrical and limits fixture options.

Engineering will determine some of your choices and aesthetic some. If you want a flat ceiling I would say that by the time you get done framing it would have been cheaper to go the other way. Panels are going to cost about $7+/sf installed. regardless of what additional structure may be necessary. What is the cost of your steel trusses?

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By Bill in Seattle, WA on 1/8/2007


Slope will be about 4:12 and footprint will be about 50' x 70'. Flat ceiling. Want it to withstand windspeeds of at least 100mph. I figured best practice is to put trusses under the SIP, which makes it alot more expensive than my original system. Looks like SIP for roof is just out of the ballpark.
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By Kelly in Catalina, AZ on 1/21/2007


Keith,

Did you put up your walls yet? I know I am late. I would be interested in helping if you haven't done it yet.

Kelly


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By Guy in San Luis Obispo, CA on 3/6/2007


I'm also late.  I plan on building with sips in Hawaii, but because of the termite issue there I think the SIPs from finpan.com/protec that use Durock instead of OSB will be really advantageous.  I was bummed to hear that the original poster gave up on SIPs, but I think had he read Michael Morley's book on building with SIPs from Taunton press first, he may have understood the 'limitations' for his particular house design.  I was fascinated to read that it was the brother of the president of Dow Chemical that got Dow to manufacture SIPs originally for Usonian houses while he interned under Frank Lloyd what's his name.  Also, a competition to build a Habitat for Humanity house in a week was sponsored by Bob Vila's Home Again and incorporated SIPs.  I think it's a marvelous technology and hope it will become a mainstay of the construction industry.  Guy.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/6/2007


Habitat has been promoting SIP's and engineered wood products for several years (ever since Louisiana Pacific became a major sponsor).

Another early push for SIP's came when the US Government was trying to establish a military base in Alaska. If I remember my Architectural History class correctly, the original SIP was in Europe after WW1 and they used cork for the insulation material. I don't remember what they used for skins.

In the late 70's a Japanese company developed a ceramic SIP that was 5cm thick with the wiring built in. The demand for silica by the computer industry ruined the financial hopes of that product.

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By Mark in Seattle, WA on 3/12/2007


Keith,

I just got around to spraying foam insulation this weekend.  If you're still interested in the process (not finished), I'll post something to the OB site.  That site is so slow for me that I avoid posting or reading posts.  I'm going to contact them today to see if there's a way to speed up things.

 

Mark


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By Yvonne in Ajo, AZ on 11/8/2007


Keith,

I am looking into using SIPs to build a small house in Ajo, AZ.  The plan I am considering also has a flat (slightly sloped) roof.  The roofing product sounds very interesting, I will look into it.  I like the idea about plants on the roof too!  However, I'd like to know where you got or will be get your SIPs.  And, any suggestions you might have in planning the project.  I'm interested in SIPs because it appears to be fairly easy and fast compared to other methods.  From your experience, Is this really the case?  Any other helpful input would be appreciated.

Yvonne


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By Keith in Tucson, AZ on 11/13/2007


Yvonne,

I used KC panels - www.KCPanels.com - they have a Tucson Rep that was extremely helpful. 

Their product is made in New Mexico, so shipping is convienent  and cost effective.  They use urethane foam which has a higher melting / burn temp than polystyrene foam, and has a higher R-factor.  I liked their design for connecting the panels together (no extra lumber cost for internal 6x6 posts), using an integrated tongue & groove method. 

A Pima County inspector (who said he was their new SIPs expert inspector) didn't understand the technology of this method (foundation tie down straps nailed to panels without king studs), so I had to have his boss point out that the engineering for it had been approved by the county and has been in their approved engineering files for the past 6 years.  They sent another inspector out who pass them without a problem.  So keep this in mind when working with the county plan inspection in Ajo.  All asspects of KC Panel technology have been approved by Pima County for at least 6 years and engineering documents are on file in Tucson.

SIPs from KC were the most effective technolgy for cost, design, R-factor and time for installation, when including material cost labor and insulation for walls and roof (if using SIPs).  I went with trusses and spray foam under roof deck for a conditioned airspace for HVAC ducts and wiring convienence.  This achieved almost the same as SIPs for the roof and allowed some convienence for my design & over all cost. This works if you have a spray foam company that is close to Ajo.  Im not sure if you do in Ajo, so SIPs for the roof may work much better for cost and design.  If you need a spray foam company, I know a great one in Tucson who may be willing to come there.  If you use spray foam, also do the interior walls (sound reduction, for a quiet, solid built feeling added to the inside of your home - also helps keep temps. more consistant from room to room).

Design / Installation tips:

  • Do not put plumbing in SIPs walls (do not carve out a cavity in them).  Frame out any exterior wall on the inside for plumbing that must be in an exterior wall.
  • Plan as much of your wiring and plumbing in interior framed walls, using the wiring path tubes for electical only. 
  • Low voltage wiring for phone, high speed internet, satellite / cable, video / audio distribution, security / fire, etc., should not be in these horizontial electrical wiring tubes provided in the SIPs wall panels.  Design vertical tubes to be added to your design.  They cost extra to add, but negotiate with KC to be included in the base cost for the panels (ask for them to be included after you have the basic cost quote without mentioning them).  Low Voltage and electrical wiring CAN NOT be in the same wiring path / tube per building code.  SIPs manufactures haven't addressed this in their basic manufacturing design, instead saying you can use the same tubes. 
  • Find a quality framing crew that understands the critical importance of plumb walls.  Setting up each panel is straight, level, and plumb is the most important part of building with SIPs.

 Finding subs that are not afraid of SIPs, or have experience with them may be tough.  Most subs won't work out of fear, or limited skills.  They tend to be production subs (only concerned about being fast and easy) rather than craftsmen.  Look for craftsman type people to work with, you'll have a better built home done the way you intend.  They also do not need to cost more either.  I found quality craftsmen for each trade that I hired out, at prices less than subs that were production orientated.  I'm doing a lot of the work after the interior framing phase myself with the help of a couple of  people that have a wide varity of quality skills, and an interest in doing the best job possible, with me, and under my direction.

Use only licensed subs found by refferals that you verify and inspect their work (from several locations of past work).

I think your on the right track with using SIPs.  I'm more impressed each day I work on and in the house (quiet, comfortable, and the continued solid well built feeling I have when in the house working).  I'm so impressed that after I finish my home I'm considering getting my general contracting license to specialize in SIPs home construction, using my home as a model.  I'm currently a specialty contractor with 2 licenses now.

If you need help with the low voltage wiring design for the panels - how and where, let me know.  I'll look at your begining design plans and give you suggestions (free advice). 

You can post questions on this forum so myself and others can help with suggestions or opinions, or you can private message me.  I don't always check my email regularly, but I'll try to reply as it's possible.

If you go ahead with KC, let me know.  I might like to look your project sometime on my way to Puerto Penasco, if it's ok. Keith

 


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By Ray on 2/16/2016


SIP  Structural Insulated Panel

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