SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels)
SIPs (structural insulated panels) are prefabricated panels made from a foam core sandwiched between an engineered wood boards and/or gypsum boards. They are used in building walls, ceilings, floors, and roofs.
Higher Insulation Value
Structural Insulated Panels provide uniform insulation with a significantly higher R-value ( R-6 to R-7 per inch )than more traditional construction methods . When installed properly, SIPs also provide a more airtight building envelope. This results in a quieter, more efficient home. It also means there will be a requirement for fresh air ventilation.
Strength to Weight Ratio
Because of the way panels are constructed, they have a greater strength to weight ratio than the elements of a stick built wall. Using SIPs also saves wood because the entire core is foam. Often, manufacturers have prefabricated chases for wiring and plumbing which reduce the need for cutting into wall members.
Ease of Construction
Panels are manufactured in a factory and delivered complete to the jobsite. As a result, they go up more quickly than standard stud frame walls. Because structural panels are becoming more commonplace, the owner builder should have little difficulty finding framing contractors who are familiar with the product and are willing to bid on the project.
Premanufactured panels are built to exacting specifications. This helps to insure that, with proper installation ( by a licensed, prescreened contractor ), the owner builder will have a very tight, high performing home.
Structural Panels can come in a large variety of sizes and thicknesses. Manufacturers can and will customize a plan for the owner builder or sell them an existing houseplan. They will also take a plan that the owner builder provides and design a SIP system for it.
Discuss the quality control measures your SIP manufacturer has in place to insure that the panels provided are to code and specification as well as fire safe. Ask about the potential for insect infestation of the foam and mold resistance.
Panelized Home Kits
Some manufacturers offer "panelized house kits." The owner builder assembles the pre-cut pieces on site. Window and door openings are preframed. Just like structural insulated panels, panelized home kits speed up the framing stage of construction. However, additional insulation is required, like a standard stick built home.