The SIP Process
Structural Insulated Panels have been around for over 30 Years. It is an alternative building system, compared to wood frame construction, that uses pre-made insulated panels – see illustration. SIPS have several unique and beneficial characteristics but it has not been widely embraced primarily to market forces.
The way houses are built with sips begins with a very detailed set of plans. Your plans should include accurate dimensions for the walls, floor and roof as well as all window and doors openings. You should decide where your electrical wiring will run through the structure so that the manufacturer can create the channels for the wires during the manufacturing process. You don’t need to locate every switch and plug but identify the most efficient path for wires to travel in the walls to connect outlets and switches. This can be done later on site but it is much easier if created during manufacture process. If you want to change the size or location of windows, doors or other openings, you will need to clearly indicate what those changes are when you submit your plans to the SIP manufacturer.
The SIP manufacturer will convert your plans to a format that can be used by their process. They will design the panels taking into account structural integrity, ease of installation and the ability to package it for transportation. They may offer several options such as blank panels that you can cut yourself, panels cut to specifications by the manufacturer with or without lumber installed in edges and openings. This should all be specified in the bid you receive.
The Manufacturer will send you quote with a detailed set of diagrams for the panels and details on what will be included. You will need to carefully check each detail and approve the diagrams and quote. Once the bid is approved you can usually have them ready in 4 to six weeks depending on the company.
Once they arrive your panels will be ready to erect. The manufacturer will include drawings with details on the assembly the fasteners and adhesives. The panels go together quickly and easily with only a few tools. The panels are bulky and so are best to have several people on hand to help erect them.
With a little planning and a few friends you should have your structure up in a weekend.
For more information on SIP construction and to find certified manufacturers in your area: www.sips.org is a good place to start.