Green Building, Home Remodeling and Contracting Services for Chico, Butte County and Northern California

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What are SIPs?

SIPs are the 21st Century Building Material.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are a high performance building system for residential and light commercial construction. The panels consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings, typically oriented strand board (OSB). SIPs are manufactured under factory controlled conditions and can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient and cost effective. Building with SIPs will save you time, money and labor.

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SIPs Performance

SIPs Construction
Thermal Performance
The best category in which SIP homes surpass standard stick-framed homes is thermal performance. True-wall-value takes into account thermal bridging where solid wood takes the place of insulation. Thermal bridging in SIP walls accounts for a loss of about 13.6 %, whereas stick homes typically lose about 28%. For example, 6 ½” SIP wall panels rated at R-25 produce a whole-wall value of about R-21.6. In comparison, a stick framed home, with studs spaced at 24″ on center, containing R-19 fiberglass insulation, drops to about R-13.7. Further losses occur when fiberglass insulation is installed with gaps around pipes and wiring, when it is compressed, and when even small amounts of moisture enter the bay. It is not uncommon for R-19 fiberglass to provide an actual value of only R-11.

Interior of SIPs Home
SIP walls, with their solid insulation and minimal structural bridging, are poor conductors of sound. This is a particularly appreciated feature for those living near schools, freeways, trains, or noisy neighbors. Inhabitants of SIP homes report that their homes are more evenly conditioned, and that they are quieter.

SIPs are one of the most airtight and well insulated building systems available, using less energy to heat and cool, and allowing for better control over indoor environmental conditions. This translates into savings on heating and air-conditioning bills!

SIPs Construction Mountain View
SIP panels resist bending much like an I-Beam does. The two sheets of OSB work like the top and bottom flanges and the foam like the webbing. Likewise, lateral loads are no match for a SIP house. This is of particular importance for windy and earthquake prone regions. They are stronger in terms of shear resistance, flexural strength, compressive resistance, and uplift resistance.

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Energy Efficiency

SIPs Construction
Insulation Value of Building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
R-Value is a measure of a material’s resistance to thermal movement. The higher the number the better the material is at insulating. According to the Dept. of Energy thermal breaks such as corners, windows, doors, and stud walls dramatically reduce the stated R-Value of virtually every product on the market except SIPs. As an example, a 2×6-stud wall 24” OC with R-19 fiberglass batts has an R-Value of 13.7. A six-inch SIP wall has an R-Value of 24.7. Simply put, a 6″ SIP wall out performs a 6″ stud wall by 58%. SIPs have the following ratings, as viewed in the table below.

R-values Comparison

SIPs Construction
Energy Efficiency of Building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
The energy efficiency of an entire wall assembly has been documented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The testing method takes into account energy losses for the structural members, corners, joints and around windows, not just the value of the insulation. Results of these tests are shown below:

R-values by Wall Type

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Ease of Construction

Pile o' SIPs
Prefabricated Panels for Easy Assembly
While the experienced framer may have to rethink construction methods, a SIP home is easier to construct than stick framing. Extensive studies have shown that ready-to-install SIP packages require 2/3 the amount of time that comparable stick framed structures require. Builders across the country have found that they can save time and money by erecting a ready-to-install wall assembly rather than having a crew assemble stick frames on site. I personally like to think of them as adult Lego’s © .

No Attic
No Attic!
Attics exist where a void is created between rafters and ceiling joists and as a means to provide slope in order to shed water. In the summer attics become an oven located directly above the spaces that we spend money to keep cool. In the winter precious heat is lost to them. SIPs allow construction without an attic. In a SIP home, the roof is insulated, rather than the ceiling. Air temperatures between the roof and an optional lowered ceiling are moderate.

There are no out-riggers and no rafter tails. This saves time and material, creates a clean look, and reduces maintenance. SIP roofs do not require venting, saving construction time and minimizing opportunities for birds and animals to enter.

Squirrel on Roof
Insect and Rodent Resistant
Our SIP panels embody a natural mineral which resists insects and rodents; consuming it would be similar to eating glass. Because SIP walls are solid, you can rest assured that you won’t find critters running around in your walls or roof.

If you are interested in an Energy Efficient home that has superior strength and the ultimate in green insulation, contact us today and let us answer any questions you may have. We’ll get the ball rolling on your project with complete design and planning right through finished construction. Contact us to get started!

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Up Front
Typically SIP homes have an " up front " cost of between 3% and 5% over that of a standard stick framed house. Depending upon design, the differences can be negligible. SIP construction is so unlike stick frame construction that cost comparisons should factor in time and materials required to insulate the walls, and to insulate and vent the attic.

Big Picture

The Bigger Picture
You will save more money per month on energy than you will be putting towards increased mortgage payments. Once you have recuperated the extra cost, you will of course continue saving!

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