Build­ing with SIPS and ICFS

Ed­u­ca­tion key to us­ing these new prod­ucts

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - Break­ing news at calgaryher­ald.com Satur­day, Septem­ber 22, 2012 MIKE

with them prop­erly.

Ed­u­ca­tion is cru­cial any time you have a spe­cial­ized prod­uct.

Trades­peo­ple need to learn how to work with the prod­uct — no mat­ter what it is — and what they can and can’t do. SIPs and ICFs are fairly new to the mar­ket. Not ev­ery­one is go­ing to know how to work with them the right way.

For ex­am­ple, you can’t leave SIPs ex­posed to the el­e­ments for long, es­pe­cially if they’re made from OSB or ply­wood. If mois­ture gets in them the en­tire struc­ture can be com­pro­mised. Once the pan­els are up and in place house wrap should go up quickly to pre­vent mois­ture from get­ting in.

An­other prob­lem is that un­skilled trades­peo­ple for­get that these are struc­ture ma­te­ri­als. You can’t carve into them. If you do it’s like cut­ting into joists — you com­pro­mise the strength of the en­tire struc­ture you’re build­ing. They are only as strong as the weak­est link. That means you can’t go chang­ing things like adding win­dows or doors. You need to stick to your con­struc­tion plans.

Also, ev­ery SIP and ICF panel is man­u­fac­tured ac­cord­ing to spe­cific en­gi­neered con­struc­tion plans; you can’t go to the store and buy SIPs and ICFs. That’s why it’s cheaper for pro­duc­tion builders to use them when build­ing large vol­umes of a sin­gle model home. But that also means that ev­ery panel has a des­ig­nated place it must be in­stalled. Just be­cause all the pan­els look the same doesn’t mean they are the same.

SIPs and ICFs are mov­ing res­i­den­tial hous­ing in the right di­rec­tion. They’re pop­u­lar be­cause you get a lot of re­sults for not a lot of work. You also have low labour costs be­cause in­stal­la­tion is easy. But like I said, you need to know what you’re do­ing. When it comes to SIPs and ICFs many things can go wrong.

I like stick­ing to what I know. And I know that a cin­der block home stud­ded and spray foamed is 100-per-cent ther­mal bro­ken. To me, proper con­struc­tion is al­ways fool­proof. And that’s some­thing I can stand be­hind.

Alex Schuldt, The Holmes Group

New build­ing sys­tems that in­cor­po­rate in­su­la­tion, such as ICFs are mov­ing res­i­den­tial hous­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

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