6 Reasons for Building Small Homes with SIPS
August 13, 2019
As the small home movement keeps gaining momentum, many who plan to live in a small or tiny home are choosing to build panelized house kits made with Structural Insulated Panels ("SIP"s). SIPs are the building blocks of every prefabricated kit home that we sell because they offer these key advantages: Sustainability, Faster Building, Energy Efficiency, Air Quality, Strength, and Long-term Value.
What are Structural Insulated Panels?
A structural insulated panel (or "SIP") is a high-performance building system for residential and light commercial construction. SIPs house kits are made with panels that consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facing wooden boards. Building with SIPs will save homeowners time, money, and labor, on top of delivering long-term value.
SIPs are manufactured under factory controlled conditions and can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy-efficient, and cost-effective. There are many reasons to choose SIPs for your small home build, but six, in particular, stand out.
Six Reasons to Choose SIPs
One of the most significant selling points for choosing SIPs is it allows you to have a sustainable build. Sustainable building (also known as “Green Building”) uses less energy and reduces damaging carbon dioxide emissions. Structures built with SIPs often can be LEED certified. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green building which was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED-certified buildings achieve the most rigorous standards in sustainable building.
Sustainable building reduces the overall impact on human health and the natural environment. SIPs panels are one of the most sustainable choices for framing and roofing. A home built with SIPs is airtight and well insulated, making them a natural green product. This greater level of insulation means SIPs use less energy to heat and cool, reducing the reliance on greenhouse gases to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Additionally, because SIPs panels are manufactured ahead of time to the exact specifications of your home design, they dramatically reduce construction waste.
By choosing to build with sustainable SIPs, you can have a strong environmental impact. The best part? Energy efficiency means less heating and cooling costs, saving you money down the road. Building with SIPs panels is a win for the environment.
2. Building with SIPs is Faster
SIPs are faster and easier to build. (Yes, you read that right!) For one, you can get prefab small home kits that contain pre-measured and pre-cut SIPs. House kits come in a variety of floor plans but eliminate the need for a long design phase. Even if you build a custom home kit from SIPs, the panels offer significant time savings. Because the panels are self-contained framing and installation, they cut out steps in the home building process.
When you start building with SIPs panels, the entire wall and roof sections can be put up quickly. The panels are shipped to you to the exact measurements and specifications of your blueprint. SIPs are ready to install when they arrive, eliminating the time needed to perform the individual jobsite operations of framing, insulating, and sheathing traditional stick-framed walls. Piece your SIPs panels together, and voila!
3. SIPs are extremely energy efficient
SIPs are a great way to save energy. SIPs create a superior building envelope with high thermal resistance and minimal air infiltration. Many new home builders see energy savings of 50%-70% after moving into a house built with SIPs. SIPs panels kits have a low impact on the environment and reduce energy costs. SIPs are fabricated in a controlled environment allowing for greater efficiency than site-built framing. SIPs also take less energy and raw materials to produce than other structural building systems. Yes, they are “green.”
4. SIPs improve air quality
Building with SIPs panels allows for better control over indoor air quality because the airtight building envelope limits incoming air to controlled ventilation. Controlled ventilation filters out contaminants and allergens, and also allows for incoming air to controlled ventilation. This will reduce the possibility of mold and dust. Many ventilation strategies can help with airtight homes. Many air filtration systems are constructed with materials that emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), but not SIPs. You can have a sustainable home that feels sustainable, too.
5. SIPS are strong
If you are building your own home, you want to ensure the product that you are using is durable. SIPs are one of the strongest building products available, with durability similar to a steel I-beam. The combination of the outer layer of SIPS (the oriented strand board) with the inner layer (thick foam) creates a long-lasting, strong product. SIPs are far more durable to inclement weather than traditionally framed homes. For the small home builder wanting to move to a more open environment, this is especially important. Additionally, SIPs can have significant fire resistance if constructed properly.
6. SIPs offer better long-term value
SIPs are one of the fastest-growing new building methods. Although SIPs may initially have a slightly higher materials cost than building with wood frame, they provide far better, long-term value. SIPs are quicker to construct and reduce the time on construction on your home. SIPs are far easier to install for the DIY home builder than traditional framed and insulated homes, significantly reducing labor and time costs. Even if you do use a contractor or building crew to assemble your home kit with SIPs panels, the job can be done quicker and more efficiently than traditional building methods.
Of course, building with SIPs also has a positive impact by reducing energy costs. The airtightness in the SIP building envelope prevents air from gaining access to the interior of the home, reducing the costs to heat and cool your home. Additionally, if you build with SIPs you are likely to have less health impact from molds and dust (and good health is priceless). The growth of the green, energy-efficient home market has led to an increased demand for high-performance building. SIPs are definitely worth the investment. The improved indoor air quality decreased energy costs, and lower labor needs all add to the long-term value of choosing to build with SIPs. You can reduce construction on labor cost. In the long run, this would be a significant investment.
Are SIPs ideal for your next home kit build?
There are projects and people who might benefit from building with materials other than structural insulated panels. But for many home builders, SIPs are a great choice. If you’re looking for a strong, safe, energy-efficient product, SIPs are a mighty smart choice.