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By Aaron in Riverton, WY on 1/9/2008


Hi All,

My wife and I want to build a house later this year, and I have been doing research on SIP's. Yesterday the salesman from Insulspan quoted me a price that blew me away... $40/sq. ft of house! I was expecting a little more cost, but $70,000 for the outer walls and roof is too much. Does anyone have any ideas? Any less expensive providers? Any help at all?

Thanks,

Aaron


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/9/2008


The cost per sq ft of your house is a probably not the way you should be looking at things. Too many variables play into those numbers to make them useful.

To the SIP guys, price per sq ft of panel, plus the charge to pre-cut and install, is what counts.

I've seen SIP prices generally around $5/sq ft. Pre-cutting adds about $1/sq ft. Shipping will be $1K - $2K. Labor will vary, of course. 

Are you getting anything fancy, like T&G pine? If so, that jacks up the price considerably.

Do you know how many sq ft of panel you need? Is it something like 4,500 sq ft? If so, then yes, I think $70,000 is pretty high. For everyday OSB/EPS/OSB panels, I'd guess your material cost ought to be more like $30,000. 

People will often save money by using SIPs for the walls, but using trusses for the roof. 

When you're comparing numbers, remember that you're getting both the outer shell and the insulation with SIPs.

Also, remember that the bid you got was likely the full retail price. If you are using a contractor, or know one who would do you a favor, have them get more bids for you. They'll get a better price.


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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 1/9/2008


Another thing you might want to remember is that you will have a dry shell within a week (or less), whereas with stick construction it will take at least three months. A lot of labor costs in three months... plus it won't be as airtight and efficient as SIPs. Since construction happens much faster with SIPs, that also means less interest paid on your construction loan. Lots of outside variables to consider.

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By Aaron in Riverton, WY on 1/9/2008


Thanks to you both!

But is it worth $70K? I am thinking that it would cost less to hire a framing crew and use 2x6's? I have a budget of $200,000 and that amount just for the roof, insulation, and walls pretty much kills it. I suppose I was expecting something around $30K-$40K, and am having a bit of price shock.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/10/2008


But is it worth $70K? Only you can decide what it's worth to you.

I am thinking that it would cost less to hire a framing crew and use 2x6's? It will, almost certainly, cost less to stick-frame. It will cost even less if you use fiberglass batt insulation. If it doesn't, you're being robbed!!

I have a budget of $200,000 and that amount just for the roof, insulation, and walls pretty much kills it. Do you have a budget of $200,000?  Or, do you have a total cost limit of $200,000? 

If you have a budget, what amount do you have allocated for framing and insulation? Try skimping everywhere you can and determining the max you can spend on framing/insulation.

If you don't have a budget, you need one to keep everything in perspective. Try following this link and using the building-cost calculator. Once you fiddle with the numbers to get the total cost to $200,000, you'll have an idea how much money you can spend on framing and insulation. 

building-cost.net

Only when you establish a framing/insulation budget will you have some basis for evaluating these bids. It doesn't matter what all of us think you should spend. Your budget is the final word. 

I suppose I was expecting something around $30K-$40K, and am having a bit of price shock. Get more bids!!! And, get them via a contractor, if you can. It makes no sense to make any kind of decision based on a single bid. 

If you are capable, consider installing the SIPs yourself. If you're not, consider hiring a local crew to install them. As I said before, you should be able to buy the pre-cut panels for approx $30K (assuming 4,500 sq ft of panels). A crane is approximately $1K/day. Ask around and get bids from local crews to install these panels.


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By John in Wauconda, IL on 1/10/2008


Try generalpanel.com, they have very reasonable prices per panel. (I'm not a sales rep.)
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By Aaron in Riverton, WY on 1/10/2008


Thanks John,

I will look right into it :-).

Aaron


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/11/2008


A while back, someone posted a spreadsheet here that listed the construction costs of several different homes. They configured the spreadsheet to scale the item costs, based on the desired total cost. It's good for ballpark numbers.

I edited the spreadsheet for a $200,000 total cost and summed the framing and insulation costs. The average for the five projects was $38,500. That's for stick framing. Apply your "worth premium" to that (for instance "SIPs are worth a 20% premium to me.") and you get.a SIP budget of $46,200.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/11/2008


How about you share a floorplan so we are all looking at the same picture?

When people want to construct "outside the box" of stick framing, I always recommend that they consider the building amterial they wish to construct out of in their design process and start from a blank sheet. Sometimes adapting a house plan from stick framing to these alternate (ICF, SIP, Red-Iron) works very well, but more often than not is doesn't.

Do you have a hip roof - that will increase your SIP costs. Do you have dormers in your roof, - also an increase. Back to the basics, if you want a SIP roof you need to keep it simple. Without your floorplan and elevations, we have no idea what your roof might look like. We also have no idea how many SIPs you need.

Just as an example, I could build a 1,600 s.f. structure consisting of a 40x40 box, this would only take 160 linear feet of SIP panels. I could also build that 1,600 s.f. consisting of 1,600x1 box, this would take 3,202 linear feet of SIP panels and therefore cost about 20x as much for materials. But hey, its the same square footage - right? You can't compare prices based on square footage of floor space, this isn't how your framer is going to bid the job, not how your ICF contractor will bid the job, and not how your SIP supplier will bid the job? Please share some more information...


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By Aaron in Riverton, WY on 1/14/2008


Alright, you all are giving me some great advice. Here is what I am hearing:

Insulspan just shocked me... go for other bids (of course :-))

SIPs are worth the extra cost for a multitude of factors.

If I design my home right, I can significantly cut down on my SIP costs.

Thanks everyone... I love the advice. And Kenneth, I don't have a plan yet (still with designer), the high cost given to me by Insulspan was one of their stock plans that they have ready numbers for.


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


Hi,

I too am in the process of evaluating SIPs for a project I have on Chincoteague Island, VA. The earlier poster who recommended General Panel knew what he/she was talking about:

Current pricing as for third-party certified panels out of their Grenada, MS plant:

Current prices in MS for blank OSB panels in 4’ or 8’ widths in standard lengths (8’, 9’, 10’, 12’, 16’ and 24’ are: 4 ½” $2.47/sq ft

6 ½” $2.80/sq ft

8 ¼” $3.15/sq ft

10 ¼” $3.55/sq ft.

Contact information is:
Butch Johnson
423 747-8710
sip@xtn.net

You also may want to consider fiber-cement SIPs. ThermaSave and T Clear both make SIPs using fiber-cement board. The advantage is that the interior can be taped and skim coated (no need for drywall) and the exterior joints sealed and either use synthetic stucco or conventional siding (or just paint). There's no need for a drainage plane like Tyvek or tarpaper.

Good luck and please post the bids you get. Remember - the quote should include shipping, professional engineering services (for a stamped engineered drawing that meets all local codes, structural support, snow loads, wind loads), glue, screws, lifting plates, any taxes, and if you wish, an optional lumber package including top and bottom plates, roof trusses or a beam package. The panels should be a well-known brand that has all the national Federal certifications with at least a 20-year warranty.


Make sure that a representative will be onsite to instruct your crew on the proper assembly of the panels and to address any problems. Make sure the representative is willing to work closely with your architect. Ask for references.


Good luck,

Scott

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