Regarding SIPs, anybody have a favorite online source for detailed info
(*.dwg's?), such as connection details, panel sizes and specifics, roof
limitations, variations in construction methods and materials, etc.?
Frankly, I don't know jack about them, have never even seen one.
Everything around these parts is standard stuff, rarely will anyone try
Might have something to do with that 130mph thing......
I bought my panels from these guys.... The details aren't that tricky.
Most panel manufacturer's have the same types, but the particulars vary from
manufacturer to manufacturer.
As Paul says, the details aren't that tricky. Premier is here in the
Pacific NW and so I use their details, but if an owner wanted to use
another manufacturer then most of the details will work from a structural
point of view. After, there are only a few practical ways to connect
these things together.
some of the connections are the designers preference. For example when
using SIPS at two-story construction I prefer to have the second floor
joist bear on the first floor panels rather than having a 2-story high
panel with the joist hanging off a ledger. Part of this comes form the
cyclic character of seismic loading which can cause a weakness in ledger
connections. So, I try to avoid using ledgers for supporting main
structural elements unless there is no other choice.
Bob Morrison, PE, SE
R L Morrison Engineering Co
No. The nails in the joist are too close to the end of the member and
will pull out the end of the joist, leaving the joist on the ground and
the bucket still attached to the ledger.
This is one reason why masonry and concrete walls are required to be
anchored to the framing with something like a Simpson PA18 nailed to the
top or side of the joists.
I will use ledgers at exterior decks even though the problem described
above can happen in a seismic event. A better detail is to install
something like a horizontal LTT20 nailed alongside a deck joist and bolted
through the ledger to a horizontal LTT20 inside the house. I would
probably only do this if the deck off the 2nd story or is otherwise a long
ways above grade as in a sloping lot.
I'm working on a house now in which the first floor will be 15 feet above
grade on the downhill side and level with grade on the uphill side. The
house will sit on either concrete or wood columns (I'm thinking round
poles) with a lattice of beams to support the gravity loads. I haven't
yet worked out the system for resisting wind and seismic forces. The
exterior deck on the downhill side will definitely be firmly attached to
the house framing.
Bob Morrison, PE, SE
R L Morrison Engineering Co
Now, is this sort of product/idea something that a client could take to a
designer/architect and say, "I saw this product and it seems interesting,
can it be used, and what are the advantages/disadvantagges for this local
Also, pardon my ignorance, but is there a way that a layperson can find, on
the net, a general/ballpark comparison of any sort?
I think it'd be really useful if there was someplace that posted, for
example, the shell (IOW no carpets or counters or fixtures, since those are
totally variable) a regular basic house and maybe a fancier house, and
beneath them, post beginning cost per sq ft for regular construction, and
then list price changes for useage of various materials.
That way, a person could know right off the bat if their ideas are
potentially feasible (given their finances) or unmitigatedly absurd...
I'd post it on my site if I had the info ;)
How did you like working with them? How do you like living with them?
In my experience SIPS have pluses and minuses (just like every other
The pluses include: the house is much quieter compared to a conventionally
framed house because all those studs aren't transmitting sound. The same
is true for energy efficiency and for the same reason. SIPS house usually
go up faster because in theory you are lifting the shell off a truck and
setting it in place (in pieces of course).
The minuses include "first cost". SIPS houses are more expensive to
construct. Depending on your energy costs this can be made up by the
Does that help?
Bob Morrison, PE, SE
R L Morrison Engineering Co
The initial cost has come down quite a bit, too. I think I was only about
10% more than conventional framing for materials, and the labor was supposed
to be less (it wasn't, but that's not because of the SIPs and is a very long
story I'd rather not get into).
Yes and no - I figured the initial cost would be higher, but we wouldn't
build unless we knew we were going to remain in an area for more than 2
years. At which point, energy savings would start to kick in - but comfort
and quietude are also concerns. Also safety/protection re: both storms and
So I'm googling around looking for price ranges per sq ft of various items
- and not having much luck.
The end point being, if I have a projected budget of, let's say $350K for
land and house; land costs say $50K, add $20K for some landscaping -
leaving $280K for house. Now, say I want storm resistance to 300mph (might
use integrated storm shutters rather than the special glazing); super
insulation (I hate drafts and I hate the idea of heating/cooling the
outdoors); a metal roof (also very well insulated); some passive energy
capability. Oh, and, if it has to be on a slab, let's add in an elevated
slab with reasonable anchoring.
That'd be the shell. I'm trying to roughly estimate the cost, then I'd of
course have to allow for the inside stuff, but those costs are fairly easy
to get hold of once the dimensions are estimated. I already know, for
example, what sort of cabinets I want, and the material (hickory probably),
so I can look those proces up at Lowe's and Home Depot - same for flooring
(hardwood, tile, etc.), and other such accoutrements. Anyhoo, I'm trying
to figure out how many sq ft of house I could get. At this point, as I'm
fooling around with designs and plans, I always end up between 2400 sq ft
and 2800 sq ft, but I can't estimate whether that size is at all feasible
given a high-quality shell.
Now, sure, locally, for $350K - $380K, we could have gotten a 4200 sq ft
place on a postage-stamp-sized lot next to a "lake" (more like a pond) in a
somewhat-local development, but it was one of those things where the walls
are that foamboard crap (sorry but IMO it is crap, you could puncture the
house with a golf club and IMO that equals crap), and there is way to much
froufrou that has a huge markup (crown molding for example), and so on.
Not to mention wasted space.
So the question I'm trying to answer is, if I culd build something and
wanted solid construction (I've been thinking poured concrete, as thick as
is reasonable, reinforced of course), how many sq ft could I get for the
same cost. Thing is, I don't see any sense in even thinking about going to
a professional if there is no way I can afford what I want...
I'm thinking of ballpark figures, as in, within $10K-$15K. IOW, say I come
up with an idea for a place - I have a preliminary floorplan and prelim.
outside. Before I go marching into a professional's office, I first want
to know whether I'd be able to at all afford the place.
So, let's say that the shell (no carpet or tile or etc. yet) of a single-
story frame-built house is $X/ft sq. Since I have an idea of how many sq
ft I want, i can multiply the two if I have an idea of the range of X.
I can find the cost for a finished house (locally, about $120 or so per sq
ft), but what I don't know how to find is, for example, the added cost of
replacing the frame-built foam-sided shell with, for example, a cinderblock
shell or a poured concrete shell, or even, replacing the foam with a
layered board such as the ISP under discussion (I saw no pricing on the
Now, if a website would say, "Our ISP board costs between $X and $Y more
per sq ft than does foam board", that's something I can calculate.
What I'm trying to do is figue out how many sq ft I could afford if I had,
say, a budget of $300K, but wanted certain construction options. Again,
ballpark figure for the shell. I can find prices for carpet, tile,
cabinets, and the other stuff that goes inside to finish it off. What i
don't know how to find is figuring out how much the shell costs - for
example, whetehr ti csts more to plumb and run electrical wiring through,
say, a house using steel studs rather than wood ones, and if it does cost
more, a general range for how much more per sq ft.
That sort of thing. Maybe there are "consumer guid"-type charts somewhere,
it's just that I doon't know what search terms I can use to find them. I
just want to get a ballpark, yet realistic, range of costs for stick versus
As it is, for example, I'm using Google to try to find something resembling
a price range for those 300-mph windows. No go yet. Every site has info
about their saving or their rebates or so on, but I've yet to come across
one that says the price range per ft sq of 300mpg glazing is between X
dollars and Y dollars. I'm trying to figure out what is and is not within
the range of what we could afford, before I even start thinking about going
to a designer/architect...
Don, just curious. Have you ever used the National Cost Estimating
manuals (or whatever they are called now)? Years ago I had to do some
"estimating", and once you figured how to use the manuals it wasn't too
hard, especially since it dealt with systems, labor man hours, and
construction cost variables throughout the country. I haven't done
this in many years, and I now usually deal with a Cost Estimator (or
Quantity Surveyor outside the US). I'm sure some regulars here have
used one recently and I was wondering how it's accuracy stands up.
It just seems like someone has already done the work you described
above for you, at a cost of course. Maybe you should create your own
"manual" for your area. ;-)
I used your terms with Google, came across this:
it's software, costs $1195 but at least they have a free demo version to
DL and try.
Here is a book - I don't know whether it'd help any pro's tho', my guess it
that it might be more of a Basic Info book but I dunno:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Hopefully of some help...
Actually, I was thinking of these series of books.
I'm sure there are many out there, but I think this was the same
'model' I used many years ago. I have my original book from 1994
somewhere and I'll check and see if it was the same brand.
The "National Building Cost Manual" is $18+change at Amazon.com ;) so I was
thinking of getting that. The other (more expensive) ones are probably
There were several on-line 'services' as well, but the books seem to be
Tho' I still think the idea of a "quick'n'dirty estimator for those
conemplating having a custom home built" could be interesting ;)
I'm sure there are some easier ones to use out there, just check
around, but I would be leary of ones that are too "easy". The ones I
mentioned above weren't as difficult to use as you might think. I
actually learned to use it while in Graduate School (gasp! that's
almost something you can use in the real world). I was able to bring
my 'skills' into play a couple of years out of school when I made the
'mistake' of mentioning my knowledge on doing some rough estimation to
my boss at the time. While my knowledge was limited, it was way above
anyone else I worked with at the time, including my boss. I wonder if
some architects get intimidated by estimating because it's usually
handed out by the Contractor, who try and make it sound like rocket
science so you can't question their prices. (hidden mark-up anyone?)
It's such a hugh portion of what we have to deal with to balance the
quality of the building versus that inevitable nasty acronym V.E.
My foray into estimating was very brief, (thank God!), but at least I
have a remedial knowledge of where estimators get their numbers from.
Since I've been doing overseas work for a long time, I have to deal
with these Quantity Surveyors all the time, and they are almost always
Brits. (know matter which country the project is in). These guys live
for the numbers. lol
I just did a concept package for a project in Romania, and had one
these guys asking for a detailed Bill of Quantities so he can start
estimating the cost of the project. I just looked at him and said,
"Are you serious"? Why don't you call me back in about a month or two
when we get this frickin building designed with some level of detail
and material palette. This was the first preliminary concept
presentation with rough 3D and sketches. We were still developing
multiple schemes at the time. "jesus dude, why don't ya' tap the brake
for a second!" I think he was just excited because he was seeing lots
of "beans" floating before his eyes ready to be counted.
This was the link I would send you too as well.
I have used these panels for 6 houses in the last 2 years in central Texas.
Many times we use these for roofs only. We have "some" cold weather here,
but not much.
For us it's the two billion degree attics that cost so much.
Clients like it because they have a "conditioned space in the attic.
The attic also has lots more usable storage space if you put down decking.
for TONS of storage in the attic that is not subjected to horrific
AC contractor like it because the duct is in conditioned space, and the
units don't have
to work so hard.
I have talked to 4 of the 6 clients and they are loving the houses so far. I
have not energy stats for you,
but when I build my retirement home, I will certainly use SIPS roof.
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