PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology
PATH Case Study
SIPs Below Ground
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"But this inspector needed to be convinced," Stendel says. "He wouldn't approve the plans because of the foundation. The upper panels were all covered by a National Evaluation Report, but the basement panels weren't. "
"Typically, in a situation like that, we provide research from a Minnesota-certified engineer with a stamp on the plans or a letter attached to the drawings. More often than not, that is usually the end of it. But this inspector just didn't accept that. He said you could put in a permanent wood foundation with stick framing, but you can't use panels in the basement because he didn't know anything
"The delay pushed the schedule back and made things a little tight," Stendel says. "We were right down to the deadline as to when you could get panels across the frozen lake safely. Extreme Panels delivered the panels at the end of February, but couldn't take their semi across the ice. So, the owner actually transported the panels out there himself with a lighter weight truck and trailer."
Many manufacturers maintain a standard panel width of 4 feet for ease of transportation and handling. Typically, SIP packages from Extreme Panels include all door and window cutouts, gable wall and roof precuts, electrical chases, framing materials, fasteners, sealants, and expandable foam. Extreme Panels delivers its SIPs on a 48-foot covered trailer with a forklift attached to facilitate unloading. Panels are bundled in sequential order to speed the construction process.
[IMAGE: Below-grade SIPS construction]
The city of Orono refused Walsh's first application for a building permit using below-grade SIPs, and recommended using a conventional poured or block foundation instead. The inspector was concerned about stability and water infiltration, since the cabin was being built on an island. The city told Walsh it had no experience with SIPs and considered them an untested and unapproved technology. Thus began a dogged campaign for the SIPs application.
With help from Panelworks Plus and Extreme Panels, Walsh then provided the city a letter from an engineer and a list of more than 20 SIPs installations in Minnesota. The city reviewed the documents but again denied the permit. The city did tell Walsh he could submit his request to a state review board. Fearing a delay of up to 60 days for state review, Stendel provided Walsh with additional examples of SIPs projects, this time with a list of city inspectors who had approved the SIPs construction. Walsh went back to the inspector's office a third time, armed with this information. The city made some calls, and a week later the permit was approved. City inspectors have been to the site since construction and now acknowledge the successful use of below-grade SIPs.
With below-grade SIPs, a 5-ply, 2x4 treated glulam functions as the stud, supporting the dirt load against the outside.
"In April, after the ground thawed, we started with the basement walls, then set the basement floor panels on the gravel. Then we set the floor system--conventional floor trusses and subflooring--since it's really not cost effective to use highly insulated SIPs for an interior floor. Once we got the floors in, we could add the upper wall panels and the SIPs roof system. We had everything we needed to put the whole shell together."
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Content updated on 9/1/2006
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