Important Points to Consider Before Building with SIPs

The primary responsibility of a contractor is to coordinate with the architect and building owner in creating a structure according to the agreed upon design and budget. However, contractors also need to consider their profit after the project’s completion. There are many challenges faced by contractors nowadays such as shortage of labourers as well as stricter construction codes concerning energy efficiency. With all these challenges in mind, many contractors suggest using structural insulated panels (SIPs) instead of conventional timber frames.

Why are SIPs the solution?

These panels are pre-fabricated boards consisting of a foam core and two oriented strand board sheathings. They are manufactured in a factory and suppliers like deliver the completed panels on site, ready for installation. These panels require no further extra prep work before erection. As soon as the complete set of boards arrive, the contractor can proceed with building.

Compared with traditional timber frame houses, building with SIPs requires fewer workers. Instead of manual labourers, the contractor can use heavy equipment such as a crane to lift the panels and put them in place. SIPs, therefore, reduce the average labour force the contractor needs to hire.

Moreover, the pressure-treated foam core provides superb insulation for the resulting building envelope. Each of these panels is pre-designed according to standard dimensions, and they snap into place perfectly, reducing gaps and thermal bridges usually resulting from conventional construction methods. With less thermal bridging, there is also reduced air infiltration and maximum airtightness. An airtight building will use less energy for HVAC operation.

Additional benefits of building with SIPs

Apart from highlighting the excellent insulation property of SIPs, it is also vital to look into the overall advantages of using them compared with conventional building materials.

  • Increased floor area, perfect for an open floor plan. Using SIPs to build walls and floors results in larger floor space. SIPs are ideal for architectural designs that favour an open floor plan. If SIPs are also used as roofing, there is no need to add trusses, thus creating an aesthetically pleasing vaulted ceiling feature with enough space for a loft.
  • Durability and stability. It is not enough for a building to be energy-efficient. It is also equally important to select building materials that provide optimum structural stability and strength. Fortunately, SIPs have an excellent load-bearing capacity and have a lifespan of at least 60 years.

There are, however, some precautions to keep in mind whenever a construction involves using SIPs. Weather protection is always a requirement before installing these panels because SIPs are prone to moisture damage. Another consideration is the capability of the builder and their familiarity with working with these panels. Lastly, SIPs are not insect resistant or fireproof. If you are looking to reinforce these characteristics, you may consult with the manufacturer for recommendations.

Typically, gypsum board is added over the panels as interior cladding and for fireproofing as well. Nevertheless, the architect may have other suggestions as an alternative to gypsum boards and drywall in so far as these methods remain compliant with local building codes.


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