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Alternative Building System – SIP (What the heck is that? Read On!)

An alternative building system to a conventional stick built home is called SIPs.

SIPs is an acronym for Structurally Insulated Panels.  SIPs are made up of rigid form core insulation, laminated between two (2) layers of wood sheathing called OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

SIPs replace several components of conventional building such as studs and joists, insulation, vapor barriers and air barriers.  SIPs are most commonly used to build exterior walls but are also used for floor and roof systems.

Some of the advantages of using SIPs in building your dream home are:

  • A home built using SIPs will have a tighter building envelope, creating walls with higher insulative value and fewer drafts. This results in a decrease in operating costs while maintaining a comfortable interior environment for you and your family. SIPs have earned the US Government’s Energy Star designation.

Studies done by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) show that when whole wall R-Value is measured, SIPs outperform wood framed walls. By eliminating the loss of heating and cooling energy through space in the insulation, SIPs dramatically reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home. The ORNL also determined a SIPs room to be 14 times more airtight than an equivalent room with 2X6 construction, sheathing, insulation and drywall.

  • A SIPs home uses up to 35% less raw lumber than a traditional stick built home and generates much lower amounts of construction site waste.
  • The indoor air quality for a SIPs home is superior to conventional construction because there is no release of chlorofluorocarbons.
  • There are no bulging studs, twisted lumber or shrinking wood due to drying with SIPs, therefore the walls are straighter making cabinets, tile etc., easier to install on flat walls.
  • Pictures, towels bars, medicine cabinets and lighting are also easier to install because you don’t have to find a stud, there is OSB behind the whole wall.
  • SIPs are naturally fire resistant because there is no oxygen in the form core.
  • SIPs are highly insect and mold resistant.
  • SIPS are highly wind resistant, having been tested at 200+ miles an hour winds with no damage. This is equivalent to more than a level 5 hurricane.
  • SIPs are earthquake resistant and have been tested at 7 on the Richter Scale with no damage.

In 1995 in Kobe Japan, there was a devastating earthquake.  One of the only buildings still standing with minimal damage was a SIPs building.

  • SIPs are very easy to install which saves time and labor costs. According to recent statistics, there is a savings of 30-35% in the time required for construction using SIPs methods compared to stick built methods. The exterior walls and roof can be constructed in eight to ten hours for a typical 1,600 square foot home.

While initially SIPS may be more expensive that conventional stick building, the savings in time to build and reduced ongoing energy costs can more than make up for it.    If you are working with a UBuildIt Construction Consultant, they can help you decide which might be the best option for your dream home design and budget.

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