SIPs panels for entire house arrived on two trucks. the blue, three-wheeled fork lift hanging on the back of the trailer makes short-order of the off-loading process.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs).  these 12″ thick foam (EPS-Expanded Polystyrene) panels are sheathed on two sides with 1/2″ thick OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and represent the building shell for the house.  when assembled, these 48″ wide panels will form the walls and roof for the house (unheated garage is conventional framing).  the R-value for these panels is R48 (compared to R19 for a typical 2×6 wall with fiberglass insulation).  SIPs are structural.  in other words, they hold themselves up as well as the roof above with only additional structure required at point loads (i.e.: beams, etc.).

claimed SIPs benefits (from manufacturer’s literature) include:

  • wood facings are from rapidly renewable wood species.
  • EPS does not include CFCs, HFCs or HCFCs.
  • minimizes the use of traditional lumber.
  • EPS is fully recyclable.
  • waste is minimized by providing factory fabrication of complete building package.

once we’ve completed our assault on the learning curve, we expect the house will go up fast.  holes for windows and doors are pre-cut.  as mentioned in the last post, the windows and exterior doors have arrived, ready for installation when the SIPs have been erected and a roof is in place.  so, we expect (hope?) that in about a month we should have box that resembles a house!

this SIPs thing is a new method for myself and gary nichols (builder).  so, will be an interesting comparison to our more familiar territory of conventional framing with cavity insulation and rigid foam applied to the “exterior”.  installation commences on thursday.  so, keep an eye out for the next post – SIPs 2.  therein, i hope to be reporting on the efficiencies of SIPs erection!

all SIPs stored on-site awaiting arrival of boom truck and installation next week.

Kel House of House & Sun, Inc. from Brooksville, Maine is the supplier –  Branch River Plastics, Inc. of Smithfield R.I. is the manufacturer/fabricator –

ICF foundation

foundation walls were poured on wednesday.  the foundation system is ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) perimeter frost walls and concrete slab-on-grade for the first floor.  the ICF walls consist of 6″ thick, reinforced concrete wall sandwiched between two layers of 2 5/8″ rigid foam insulation.  the foam blocks (yeah, kinda like big LEGOs) are stacked and reinforced, then pumped full of concrete.  the resulting R-value is 22.  this wall system also provides very effective insulation at the edge of the concrete slab (which contains radiant heating).  so, our battle against heat loss during the heating season will be very effective.

this coming week will see installation of all sub-slab utilities, 8″ layer of crushed stone layer with radon ventilation piping, 6″ of rigid insulation, and poly vapor barrier.  then, next week the slab reinforcing and radiant tubing will be installed and concrete slab poured!  slowly, but surely, we are making progress.