Panelized Home Kits
There is a difference between SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and Panelized home kits. I didn’t realize this until I did some additional research. SIPs consist of a solid foam core sandwiched between two sheets of OSB. The panels in a panelized home are premanufactured stick built panels. They have an exterior shear panel but are open inside. The owner builder builds the house shell with the panels but still has to insulate.
In general, a SIP kit is more expensive than a panelized home kit. This is something to consider. You will, however, have to insulate the panelized kit. This will offset the price disparity somewhat.
Remember, this is "in general". It is important to shop around and get bids on ALL the materials you plan to use. You may find a quality manufacturer of structural insulated panels who can offer a product for less. That is the benefit of working hard during the bid process.
Panelized Kits: It's Included
A panelized kit has premanufactured wall panels that are built just as a regular framed home. They install more quickly and offer an open interior that is familiar to the rough trades. This will make for less hassles when it comes to interior rough out and finish.
Some kit manufacturers include additional materials for the finish of the home. This could include, at no extra charge, windows, exterior doors, siding and roofing material. That can end up adding to the cost savings overall.
Be sure to inquire about the total package. What is included? What is extra? Then you will be able to calculate which program offers the most value.
SIPs Insulation Values
SIPs have probably the highest R value of any building material. They are an R-6 to R-7 per inch. With a 2X4 wall, that’s a R 24-32. Most stick build walls average an R-11 to R-13.
The difference is that the SIP core is entirely of foam. There is no reduction in R-value where a standard wall would have wood studs. There are no gaps, compressions or voids. The insulation is continuous. This makes for a home that is not only well insulated but is very tight.
SIP homes are so tight that it is an absolute REQUIREMENT to have fresh air ventilation. Discuss this additional cost with your HVAC contractor.
Research heavily before deciding on a product. It is wise to go with established technology as well. Very new products, although "state of the art," have proven over time to reveal flaws that can be costly. If a technology or product in construction has a good 10-15 year track record, the kinks are likely worked out.
Steel Building Kits
Kit homes are not limited to standard panelized or SIP configurations. Steel buildings are becoming more and more popular because steel homes, garages, and larger facilities can be designed to owner specifications or ordered as pre-configured models. They go up quickly, are built to last and often do not require as much construction expertise or personnel as as wood framed, panelized or SIP project. For more information about steel buildings, including residential structures visit www.absolutesteel.com.
Another difficulty an owner builder may encounter with SIP’s is that some municipalities still will not approve a Structural Insulated Panel home for construction. Structural insulated panels are gaining acceptance very quickly but the owner builder should definitely confirm acceptance when meeting with the local building department.
Note: SIP's recently have been accepted into the International Building Code.
It may be a challenge to find a framing contractor who has experience installing insulated panels. That won’t be an issue with a standard panelized home kit. Because the panels are simply remanufactured, stick framed, shear walls, any framing contractor will be able to build your panelized kit home.
Panelized Kits Are Easily Approved
Because a panelized home kit is stick framed, any jurisdiction in the country will approve your plans.
Kits Are Customizable
Kit homes, whether structural insulated, steel, or stick built shear panel, are often completely customizable. The kit provider can take the owner builder’s blueprint and manufacture the walls to make the home. The factories that build the panels use exacting measurements and equipment. This ensures a tight fit and a strong home.
In addition, there are usually pre-designed floor plans from which a buyer can choose. This gives the owner builder options.
Investigate all your options before choosing. Investigate costs, time, potential benefits and difficulties. The owner builder can build a quality home from SIP’s, Panels or standard stick frame. These are 3 paths to the same goal.
Panelized Kit Home Information Pages