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Building with Wall and Roof Panels

Updated on July 1, 2009

Today, building green is not just a fad. From consumers to home builders to commercial builders, going green is not only a goal and not only good for the environment, but it will save building owners money on energy use. The cost of energy is going no place but up in the long run, and new home construction is an easy place to green-up for the consumer.

One easy way to go green by using structural insulated panels, SIPS, for wall and roof construction in new homes. SIPS can be used for both exterior and interior walls. Clad in plywood or OSB, SIPS wrap the cladding around an insulated core. Less often, SIPS will use steel, aluminum, concrete, fiberglass, or a composite for the cladding material.

There are advantages and some disadvantages in using SIPS.

What is good about SIPS

Since panel systems are built in factories, they provide a carefully constructed product that is structurally strong. Assembly on site is easy and construction time and labor is reduced. SIPS are strong enough to resist hurricanes, earthquakes, and pest infestations.

Improved insulation lowers energy costs. Soundproofing is better, and noise pollution is lessened.

Installation can vary based on the type of system and manufacturer. Learning time is short for on site labor. Usually, on a few days are needed to complete the shell of a home.

Panels are constructed throughout the year despite weather conditions. They are shipped straight to the job site by the manufacturer.

Potential Problems

SIPS save labor costs but they are more expensive to build initially. Each must be carefully designed and measured for a particular project to make sure the fit is tight. It is difficult to change design on site, and foundations must be perfect for easy installation.

Deliveries can be delayed and that will delay construction and deliveries must come in the right order.

All tradesmen must be well trained to use SIPS. Plumber and electrician cuts must be perfect, and trades people must know the panel is filled with insulation.

Panels must meet all codes, and some types of panels best serve a particular location.

Designs must be carefully planned to eliminate changes after manufacturing has begun. Changes driven by on site problems can be costly and should be avoided.

Summary

SIPS are easy to put together on the job and save labor. They are strong structurally, and provide a high level of insulation.

Design must be perfect. Delivery schedules must be maintained. Trades people must be well trained in the use of SIPS.

SIPS can provide a strong, well built home that save time and money and provides long term utility savings. It is an easy way to go green with existing technology.

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