Tiny houses are very popular and builders are struggling to keep up. One building technique that is growing among tiny houses is using prefabricated panels or SIP’s.
What Are SIP’s?
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) make the building process faster. SIPs are prefabricated panels that are lightweight yet strong and use insulated foam for high R-Value ratings.
The panels are shaped like a sandwich. The inner layer is made of foam and has two structural facings on either side. The facings are typically made of oriental stand board (OSB). You can also choose to upgrade to a stronger plywood.
SIP’s are very rigid which makes them incredibly strong. When you mount a mobile tiny house with SIP’s to a trailer you tie the whole structure together and make it stronger overall.
Stick or timber frame homes are built with two-dimensional lumber. The lumber is nailed together to form walls. There are a top and bottom plate that run horizontally. Studs which are the backbone of the wall run vertically between the top and bottom plates.
We are going to tell you why SIP’s are such a great building method for your tiny house.
Advantages of Using SIP’s or Prefabricated Panels
There is a misconception that SIPs are heavier then stick frames with foam insulation. Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses have found that SIP’s are 5% lighter than timber framing using contemporary framing techniques.
R-value is the level of insulation that is measured in building materials. A higher R-value and denser insulation will create a home that is warmer and airtight. Expanded Polystyrene foam, or EPS, offers about an R5.5 per square inch.
SIP’s have the advantage of not being broken up by studs and in a stick frame home. The studs create gaps which allows air to flow through. In a SIP wall, you have fewer of these gaps and a tighter wall.
Plumbing and Electric
The trick is to have an available blueprint and know where you will need outlets and plumbing fixtures. This way your manufacturer can have access available in the SIP’s. When running the electrical wired the builder often cuts pathways into the foam insulation. They can then press the wires into the path and wind them where they need to go.
Plumbing can often be run under the home in the chassis of the trailer.
Putting It All Together
SIP’s are fabricated to meet the specifications of the building. Each wall can be completed as one unit and contain the cutouts for any windows and doors.
An advantage of SIP’s is that they are very uniform and straight. Lumber quality varies greatly and builders often deal with substandard materials. Poor lumber can through your whole building off.
Building with SIP’s goes quickly. With a crew of three persons, a complete shell can be built in three days. This is much faster than the typical five to ten days for a stick built.
One of the reasons that SIP’s are so popular with tiny house builders and buyers is because they are very energy efficient. After all, many of us came into the tiny house movement because we care about the environment. We desire to put our money where our mouth is to use the colloquial expression.
Homes built with SIPS often have a fifty to seventy percent reduction in energy expenses. They also improve indoor air quality by having lower dust and mold issues. After they are built they will have fewer emissions from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are common in stick built houses.
SIP’s are a great value which makes your overall building experience better. So dollar for dollar your SIP constructed tiny home will cost about the same as your stick built a tiny home. However, the savings are in the amount of time saved and the return on investment.
From a builders standpoint, there is less labor needed and less waste than on a typical construction job.
For the homeowner SIP’s equates to long term savings. Due to the higher level of energy efficiency, a homemade with SIP’s will cost less to heat and cool.
Find Great Designs and Builders In Australia
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Tiny Real Estate has great plans for the person who wants to build their tiny home from scratch. Check out their floor plans!
Want to try out a tiny house before purchasing one? Tiny Away offers great vacation opportunities to take a holiday in a tiny home.
Check out our blog on taking a tiny house holiday in Australia.