Thursday, September 8, 2011

products galore: SIPS Built This House Part 1

mt. pleasant building from brian tomaino a friend and awesome photographer
people are constantly amazed when we explain to them that björn and i are building this house...ourselves.  we designed the house & we are building it, we aren't hiring a contractor or a bunch of construction workers, we are it.  and after we have explained all of that then the real questions start.  how are you building a house? you don't know how to build a house, do you? you mean you aren't hiring a contractor?  how do you know what you are doing?

bottom line is we don't know what we are doing!  we both have some preliminary knowledge about construction and home building..but really how hard can it be right?  people have been doing it for thousands of years.  and just because the majority of us don't even know how to hang a piece of art on the wall properly ( i apologize if that is you) doesn't mean that we don't have the ability to learn how!

however, there is one huge caveat that has made us much more confidant about building this house and that is SIPs!  we wouldn't be doing this project without the use of this very awesome construction method.

SIPs stands for Structurally Insulated Panels.  these little panels are super strong, super insulated, and super awesome.  SIPs are made up of rigid foam sandwiched between two pieces of osb (oriented strand board), and because they are manufactured under factory controlled conditions, the resulting walls are straighter, more energy efficient and produce very little waste.

our panels will be designed for us based on the plans that we give to the SIP manufacturer- Big Sky Insulations, Inc from Bozeman, Montana!  (woot woot)  after Mark Yerbic and his team at BSI have engineered and "panelized" our floor plan the house will arrive in durango on a couple of flat bed trucks as flat panels ready to become our walls and roof.

many of the people will use the word 'pre-fab' when referring to this way of building, and i don't know if that bothers me because of the stigma of 'prefab' housing in the suburbs and exurbs of many american cities or if i just don't like the idea of the way we are building being put in such simple terms.  yes- the house is pre-fabricated in a warehouse but that in no way means that it isn't our custom design or that we are limited in anyway by using SIPs.  besides, what is pre-fab?  as björn is constantly reminding me all construction materials are essentially "pre-fab"- lumber comes in specific sizes as does sheet rock etc. so most houses framed in the conventional manner are in fact influenced by these pre-fabricated building elements. and besides the days of sears houses and levitttown are long gone, today pre-fab can be awesome so maybe i shouldn't get so hung up on the use of that ugly term!

here are a few examples of how varied a SIP home can be, from traditional new england, mountain chalet to urban contemporary, SIPs can do it all.  i hope to interview mark yerbic at BSI soon and post some additional information on SIP construction and how awesome it is!

a traditional SIP built home via SIPA

interesting SIP built duplex via SIPA

mountain town SIP built home via Inhabitat

contemporary SIP built home with reclaimed barn wood and
 cor-ten steel siding via Mocoloco

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