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Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)

by , Posted to on 06/03/2009 1:19 PM | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 05/04/2005
Location: ND

Okay, it's gonna be tiresome, expensive and an ugly process but my wife and I have decided to build a home. We just purchased a lot and are going to build a ranch style home with a walk-out basement. The plans are currently being drafted but my question is what type of construction should I utilize for my home.

Traditional stick built is appealing to me but does anybody have any experience with structural insulated panels (SIP) and their durability and longevity? I have seen a few in our market but since they are fairly new in this area I am still undecided as to the benefit or strength of this building technology. Any information or experience you have to offer would be great!

Thanks


This is my BOOMSTICK!!!

Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 3:46 PM | Reply #1 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 12/01/2003
Location: ND
If you got a few extra pennies, I recommend a steel house.  A friend of mine just got done building his down here in Louisiana, and its great.  All the corners are square, all the walls are straight.  He said his cost was something like 8% more than a stick built house.

Take a look, he used a kit from this place

http://www.kodiaksteelhomes.com


USAF RETIRED

Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 4:02 PM | Reply #2 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/27/2004
Location: ND
SIP all the way.   It may be a little more expensive for materials but the labor time is cut down and makes up for it.   My uncle in Bismarck has built them for years.   If you are interested I may be able to hook you up for a quote.    He and a partner have a two man operation.  They are experienced, fair and of course honest.   Not sure if they would have time to build one or not but I'd ask if you are interested.   
Just a note about SIP.   My uncle built one for a friend in MT.    They had a storm with 80+mph winds and the house didnt even creek.   Solid and stronger than stick built from what I'm told.    His only complaint is that you cant hear anyone drive up to the house since they have good sound proofing.   
I just bought a different house north of Bismarck and after doing the research it is cheaper to buy than build new.
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Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 4:42 PM | Reply #3 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/10/2002
Location: ND
I would definitly look into getting prices for a SIPs house, and while you are at it look into ICF (insulated concrete forms) also.  ICFs are rated to over 200 mph winds and give a insulation R-factor of greater that 50.  NOt calculated though if you look at a framed wall 2x6 you get about a r-21 with standard construction with a icf you get about a 35 but it does not figure in the zero air infiltration which is where most of your heat loss comes from.  SIPs with a 4" wall would give approx. about the same as a 2x6 conventional framed house but that also does not figure in the low air infiltration in the calculation.  I do not know what its uncalculated r-factor would be.  with both systems make sure you find someone knowledgable in how they are put together.  Get references there are plenty of people that talk a good game but end up with subpar work.  Also  make sure your mechanical contractors understand the addition figuring that needs to go into the system. HRVs (Heat Recovery Ventilators, aka Air exchangers).  HVAC I am assuming will need to be reduced in size especially the AC, and if you end up with a ICF they need to make sure to get the block outs for all the mechanicals in on the front end.

Other things to consider are is it worth it to pay and get the energy star rating, you get an additional tax credit that will probably cover the cost of the inspections, but for resale that rating stays with the house for the long haul.  Also is there a cost bennifit, how long will you own the house and will you be able to recoop your additional expenses with the energy savings of a super-insulated house.

Other things to look into arehigher priced heating systems that are more efficient they may not be worth the extra money because the house is so well insulated it will be hard to recoop the cost of a heat pump or geothermal.  Example, if a heat pmp drops your costs by say 25%-30% but your heating bill is already only $60/ month you save an additional $15.  If that system cost you an additional $2000 to put in it would take you 11 years not including the cost of interest on your loan and maintaining the system.

Lots of stuff to think about but under the right circumstances well worth the investment.
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 7:20 PM | Reply #4 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 02/28/2007
Location: ND
SIPs panels are awesome.  I've built many of them and they are  the way to go.  Also, I would only use Insulated Concrete Forms on the basement.  The comfort and energy savings is amazing.  If you need any further advice or info just ask.  I was a residential contractor for quite a few years and built exclusively with ICF's, and have done many SIPS houses. 
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 8:34 PM | Reply #5 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/10/2002
Location: ND
eyexer Said:
  Also, I would only use Insulated Concrete Forms on the basement.  The comfort and energy savings is amazing. 



Why not the upper levels?
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 9:11 PM | Reply #6 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 11/12/2003
Location: ND
pigsticker
My wife and I are currently about 60% done with our house relocation project with a basement; we started a year ago 25 miles north of where you are. If you ever want to check out our "do-it-yourselfers" project, you and your wife are more than welcome. Cell or email, you know both; let me know when would work for you, I will have beers chilling !!!

https://www.facebook.com/MossyMO
If Guns Cause Crime, All Of Mine Are Defective.

Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 9:14 PM | Reply #7 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 02/28/2007
Location: ND
There's definately pro's and con's to that.  My next house will probably be all ICFS, footings to rafters.  The biggest issues with going all ICFS is that your electricians cry like a baby when they have to wire it,  for really no reason.  You have to go with a synthetic stucco on the outside unless you like the extra time/labor to install traditional siding on it.  Also, the window and door jambs will be enormously deep.  That isn't aesthetically pleasing to some.  It's pretty tricky pouring it and making it perfect on a main floor.  You can get by with some not so perfect walls below grade.  You have some additional steps you have to take to tie in the floor joists for the main floor.  But it makes a solid, warm and very quiet house if you do it.  I do think you get as good a results using SIPS panels.  And it's much easier. 
bjpederson Said:
eyexer Said:
  Also, I would only use Insulated Concrete Forms on the basement.  The comfort and energy savings is amazing. 



Why not the upper levels?


Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 9:30 PM | Reply #8 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 02/28/2007
Location: ND
Great points in your response.  The SIPS panels I've used are 5.5" thick foam.  I've also done several with SIPS roofs which were 9.5" thick.  You can achieve the energy star rating using SIPS  and a conventional roof.  You are correct, you would need an HRV with either SIPS or ICFS.  I'd recommend one no matter which type of building you do, conventional or otherwise.  They are unbelievable devices.  In fact they are code in Minnesota and soon will be here I think. 
bjpederson Said:
I would definitly look into getting prices for a SIPs house, and while you are at it look into ICF (insulated concrete forms) also.  ICFs are rated to over 200 mph winds and give a insulation R-factor of greater that 50.  NOt calculated though if you look at a framed wall 2x6 you get about a r-21 with standard construction with a icf you get about a 35 but it does not figure in the zero air infiltration which is where most of your heat loss comes from.  SIPs with a 4" wall would give approx. about the same as a 2x6 conventional framed house but that also does not figure in the low air infiltration in the calculation.  I do not know what its uncalculated r-factor would be.  with both systems make sure you find someone knowledgable in how they are put together.  Get references there are plenty of people that talk a good game but end up with subpar work.  Also  make sure your mechanical contractors understand the addition figuring that needs to go into the system. HRVs (Heat Recovery Ventilators, aka Air exchangers).  HVAC I am assuming will need to be reduced in size especially the AC, and if you end up with a ICF they need to make sure to get the block outs for all the mechanicals in on the front end.

Other things to consider are is it worth it to pay and get the energy star rating, you get an additional tax credit that will probably cover the cost of the inspections, but for resale that rating stays with the house for the long haul.  Also is there a cost bennifit, how long will you own the house and will you be able to recoop your additional expenses with the energy savings of a super-insulated house.

Other things to look into arehigher priced heating systems that are more efficient they may not be worth the extra money because the house is so well insulated it will be hard to recoop the cost of a heat pump or geothermal.  Example, if a heat pmp drops your costs by say 25%-30% but your heating bill is already only $60/ month you save an additional $15.  If that system cost you an additional $2000 to put in it would take you 11 years not including the cost of interest on your loan and maintaining the system.

Lots of stuff to think about but under the right circumstances well worth the investment.


Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 10:32 PM | Reply #9 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/10/2002
Location: ND
I to am doing my next house to the rafters with ICF next summer.  I have not done any SIPs personally but have done quite a bit of research on them.  I have installed a lot of ICFs and several different brands, and they are not all created equal.
eyexer Said:
There's definately pro's and con's to that.  My next house will probably be all ICFS, footings to rafters.  The biggest issues with going all ICFS is that your electricians cry like a baby when they have to wire it,  for really no reason.  You have to go with a synthetic stucco on the outside unless you like the extra time/labor to install traditional siding on it.  Also, the window and door jambs will be enormously deep.  That isn't aesthetically pleasing to some.  It's pretty tricky pouring it and making it perfect on a main floor.  You can get by with some not so perfect walls below grade.  You have some additional steps you have to take to tie in the floor joists for the main floor. 



That was kinda what I was getting at when I stated to get references, I have seen too many poor pours where the walls are not as straight as they should be.  One way to speed up the electrician is to use an electric chain saw for cutting the chases and boxes way faster than the hot knife and the width of the blade is about perfect for the wire.  Of course it won't cut anything but styrofoam after the first job but it pays for itself on the first one and they are fairly cheap.
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 11:01 PM | Reply #10 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 05/04/2005
Location: ND
Apparently my blueprints are sent to a factory for the SIPs and are assembled there according to my design plan and then sent up to my location on a truck where they are then assembled by numbers, somewhat like an erector set. Are these panels as strong as 2X6" on 16" centers and what's it like for hangin items like heavy game heads on the walls? Does these need modifications to hang a 70+ pound head?

Thanks for all the awesome responses so far. Sounds like SIPS is highly favored with many of you.


This is my BOOMSTICK!!!

Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 11:01 PM | Reply #11 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 02/15/2005
Location: SD
My house will be SIPS with and ICF basement.  We've built several SIPS homes using the Enercept SIPS (Watertown, SD).  Great homes, rock solid, tight, quick to erect, and energy efficient.  With both SIPS and ICF's there are different challenges you face compared to standard stick framed homes.  Pre project planning is essential, electrical, plumbing, and exterior openings need to be set in stone before things begin.  But, I don't believe either are that much more difficult. 

I personally prefer SIPS for the main level over ICF's.  I absolutely despise having enormously thick jambs on my exterior walls.  I am also more comfortable working with wood and the SIPS are more in my range of normal construction compared to ICF's.  I also prefer to go with conventional siding and it is easier with the SIPS I have used compared to the ICF's I have used.  Perhaps there is an ICF that allows for the install of conventional siding but I have not seen nor used it. 

I'd personally go with the 6" wall panels.  R value is outstanding.  Air infiltration is non existant, we have done many blower door tests and the results are truly impressive (one thing to note here is we use high quality windows).  The Enercept system is super fast to construct.  SIP roof panels make the roof a half day task at most but there are trade offs.  I personally don't like the true vault ceiling you get but others do.  I personally plan on doing a std. truss roof w/large energy heel to provide adequate insulation.  Our blower door tests have shown very little difference in performance with a truss roof versus a complete SIPS roof. 

Air exchanger/HRV is a must.  Proper HVAC sizing is also important.  Not all HVAC contactors have experience sizing for these types of homes so make sure to do some checking.  Also, don't let the electricians try to over price because they are scared of what it will take to do a SIPS home.  Find one with experience.  Enercept provides a wiring guide that really goes over the process for those new to SIPS. 

Overall cost comparisons we have done with identical homes, stick vs. SIPS, were within a couple percent (SIPS being higher).  However, for the benefits you receive, I believe it is WELL worth the price. 

If you are interested in the SIPS I would not hesitate to call Enercept.  I am not associated with them in any way other than we have built several of their SIPS packages.  All my dealings have been top notch.  It is nice to be able to use a SD company as well.  Good luck!

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” - Albert Einstein
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 11:07 PM | Reply #12 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 02/15/2005
Location: SD
Correct.  The process goes something like this- You send in a plan, they give you a quote.  If you accept, they will then convert your drawing to a panel drawing.  They send you a copy of the plan to proof (important part, openings are set the panels are built).  They then build the panels and truck them to your location.  The panel set comes with a numbered drawing, panels are assembled as per the drawings.  Enercept sends everything, bottom plate, top plates, accoustical sealant, etc. 

The panels are supposed to be stronger than a 2 x 6 wall.  One thing to remember is that you only have studs at the joints of the panels(main level panels that is, basement style panels do have studs in them).  The strength of the panels comes from the foam being glued to the OSB on each side.  When it comes to hanging things like you said I would not forsee a problem.  You can screw anywhere since there is 7/16" OSB on the inside of each panel. 
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” - Albert Einstein
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 11:15 PM | Reply #13 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 05/04/2005
Location: ND
Great!

I am getting more excited about the SIPs system the more I hear about them. We plan on being in this house for a very long time, hopefully 20 years or better so we want to build it right.

If anybody else has experiences please, let me hear em. Like I said, my plans are still at the draftsmans and I need to get this next portion lined up so the more I learn the better.

Thanks again guys!

Mossy,

did you use ICF in your basement? I know you moved your existing home but wondering what you did below grade.


This is my BOOMSTICK!!!

Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/03/2009 11:30 PM | Reply #14 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 06/03/2009
Location: ND
Why build ?   I have a 30x60 ranch that can be moved,  I had it built 12 years ago in Canada and moved it in.  Devils Lake is on the rise and I am getting nervous, it sits on a walk out basement, and is set up to live in and and enjoy. Let me know.230-2342
Re: Building a house and need your help (SIP vs Stick)
by on 06/04/2009 07:04 AM | Reply #15 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/10/2002
Location: ND
Traxion Said:

I personally prefer SIPS for the main level over ICF's.  I absolutely despise having enormously thick jambs on my exterior walls.  I am also more comfortable working with wood and the SIPS are more in my range of normal construction compared to ICF's.  I also prefer to go with conventional siding and it is easier with the SIPS I have used compared to the ICF's I have used.  Perhaps there is an ICF that allows for the install of conventional siding but I have not seen nor used it. 



Conventional siding is screwed on instead of nailed, takes a little more time but works well.
Posted By: pigsticker
Posted On: 06/03/2009 1:19 PM
6178 Views, 82 Comments
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