Going Green! Those words seem to be everywhere today, in all areas of life. There is one area where going green is not only good for the environment but good in many ways for the consumer. And that is in home construction.
One relatively easy way to go green is to use prefabricated construction panels for walls and roofs in new residences. Panels are usually used only in exterior walls but can be used for interior wall construction as well.
Wall and roofing panels are known as Structured Insulated Panels or SIPs. The most common type is clad in plywood or OSB board on both sides around an insulated core. However, other materials can be used for cladding, including steel, aluminum, concrete, fiberglass, and some composite materials.
There are significant advantages in building with SIPs. There are also cautions that those choosing SIP systems must observe.
Panelized systems are built in factories. This provides a consistent and carefully crafted
product that forms a strong, structural envelope. On site assembly is relatively easy with reduced construction times and reduced labor costs. The product offers sufficient strength to resist hurricanes, earthquakes, debris impact and even pest infestations.
The environmental benefits are also important. SIPs offer improved insulation that reduces energy costs. Home owners will enjoy better soundproofing reducing interior noise pollution.
Installation varies by type of panelized system as well as individual manufacturer. Learning time for onsite labor is not great. The systems are easy to put together, and the shell of a home can be constructed in a few days.
Panels are usually shipped directly to the jobsite by the manufacturer, and since they are built in a factory, they can be constructed at any time of the year. Panels are not subject to weather delays.
There are several characteristics of SIPs that builders must keep in mind. While SIPs save labor, they are more expensive to produce initially. There is little room for error. Panels for each home must be carefully designed and planned to ensure tight onsite fit. Foundations must ensure easy installation at the job site, and onsite design changes are difficult and costly.
Additionally, delivery must be planned to get the right set of panels to the jobsite at the right time or construction delays will occur.
Tradesmen must be well trained in the use of panels. If a plumber or electrician makes a wrong cut, that panel may be ruined causing cost overruns and delays. Trades people must be aware that the panel is filled with insulation.
Builders need to research local codes to make sure that the selected system meets all local requirements. With a variety of systems available, the builder should select the one that meets local conditions best while serving construction needs and customer satisfaction.
Designs must be carefully planned to eliminate changes after manufacturing has begun. Changes driven by onsite problems can be costly and should be avoided.
Structured Insulated Panels offer significant benefits to the builder and his customers. They are easy to assemble on the jobsite with reduced labor costs. They are structurally sound with high insulation properties. They also reduce interior noise levels.
Panel design must be clear and precise. Delivery schedules must be carefully planned and met. Local codes need to be observed, and the construction trades need training in the use of panels and the potential problems.
With careful planning and training, however, builders can provide strong, secure, cost-effective, timely and well-designed housing to customers through the use of Structured Insulated Panels.