Question

Should I be concerned about a possible future roof leak when using SIPS to build a new home?

Asked by Michael Bannett
West Hartford, CT

Considering a new build with SIPS for all exterior walls and roof members vs. a stick built roof with a spray foam insulation application.

Answer

Rick Goyette

Answered by Rick Goyette

Pawtucket, RI

Emerald Dream Builders

September 14, 2011

As an advocate of Structural Insulated Panels or SIPS I believe them to be a superior building system to stick framing for residential structures. Seems that you’ve found the same fondness I have for panelized construction.

Approach SIPS as a building trade not just a material

One piece of advice that I provide folks who inquire about SIPS construction is that you should consider SIPS construction a building trade/specialty versus just a material.

It is very easy to get wrapped up in the fact that this is a building material and lose the fact that a contractor with SIPS experience is the bigger part of a successful project.

Allow me to explain.

  • Sending plans to a fabricator/manufacturer and having a separate company install the panels who may or may not have experience with the material can add significant complexity to your project.
  • This type of complexity can lead to issues such as the one you’ve inquired about.
  • The better approach is to choose a company that will supply, fabricate and install the SIP panels and take care of all the structural rough framing for your home.
  • One company in our neck of the woods is Panel Pros located in New Hampshire. Having worked with them on several projects I can offer the recommendation without hesitation.

SIP roof vs. framed roof

Now given that fear of leaking has been removed from the equation your comparison of SIP roof versus a framed roof is still up for debate.

  • As long as there are no cathedral ceiling structures included in your plans, I personally prefer the option of a truss roof with spray foam insulation to R-60.
  • This specification does wonders for your HERS rating and will have an impact on your energy bill.

Best of luck on your project! 

 

For more information:

Read "Are structural insulated panels (SIPs) the right choice for building a healthy home?" a Q&A answered by Dietmar Lorenz.

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