I'm requesting input and comments about SIPS (structural insulated panels) for the shell of a very small house. Valubuild.com is offering packages that include all outside walls, the floor and the roof, and they make some pretty strong claims concerning strength, R value and energy savings, and overall savings to get a building closed in.
I would like to hear from anyone who is familiar with SIPS or the packages offered by Valubuild. Is this something I should consider?
First I want to know is the cost per square foot of the shell....and the projected cost for erection. I get trade pubs on SIP's and it will come down to cost, if it is a viable choice. I personally prefer ICF, but unless you live in tornado country, are they really practical?
The kit costs $22,900 for a 768/sqft shell. Floor, walls and roof. That works out to just under $30 per foot. Walls up in a day, complete box in a week with a crew of three. I would have to rent a fork lift to unload the material and a crane to put up the roof trestles.
They offer to do custom designs, so I would think one could build on a slab and buy the kit without the floor. No? The going rate where I live (southern Mississippi) is $100/sqft or more and everybody is busy.
What is ICF?
Depends where you live in southern Mississippi. I spent 6 months looking at the destruction. Most was south of I10 from the Pearl to Ocean Springs and some in the tornado/wind areas north.
I saw very sips left in the areas I was in. Problems with hold downs (ground and roofs) and keeping the panels together. The panels are rigid, but the structure itself did not have continuity and ended up somewher north.
There is no argueing that they are cheap and fast. Being an engineer, I recognize the strength of the individual panels, but question how srong a structure really is. Beacuse the panels are so strong and rigid, the amount of load put on any connectors is much more than you normally see (no "give"). With proper connections, they can be as strong or stronger than normal stick construction in severe situations.
If you ever plan to add on to to a sip structure, you will have some limitations and it can be costly.
Without a doubt, the structures that performed best in the storm surges were the concrete/masonry home that held up well and were much easier and cheaper to renovate with out the mold problems.
Often, I saw two indentical homes north of the coatal railroad line (great storm protector). Usually the home with vinyl siding was trashed. It there was a brick veneer over the wood, there was enough unplanned structural rigidity to rebuild. I guess that is no surprise to someone from the area.
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