How does a building cost less to build if SIPs can cost slightly higher than traditional stick frame?

The cost of SIP construction is very comparable to stick frame construction but there are several key factors to consider. Comparing SIP’s to conventional (stud & batt) framing is not a true apple to apple comparison. For the complete picture you need to factor in labor, waste hauling, insulation, and in the long run, energy savings. SIP’s arrive onsite precut and ready to install straight from the container. Each SIP encompass structural framing, superior insulation, and a sheathing & vapour barrier. Stud and batt framing requires 3 steps for this process (stud framing, insulation batts, sheathing & vapour barrier). Already you are saving days, if not weeks on labor costs and building timeframes.

For more than 30 years SIPs have out performed stick framing. Giving you a warmer, stonger, quieter and healthier home. Combine that with solar power/hot water and you could also have a Zero Energy Home with zero power bills!

  • Pre-insulated! No need to purchase additional insulation
  • Pre-fabricated & precut when delivered to the jobsite: save 20-30% on framing labor
  • Electrical is installed 20-30% faster
  • Jobsite waste reduced with pre-cut panels — saves approximately 30% on waste sent to the landfills
  • Tighter house means smaller HVAC systems — up to 40% savings
  • Predictable STRAIGHT engineered product is plumb & square every time = faster install for finish work. Doors/windows/millwork: no bowed lumber = straight walls for faster doors/window/millwork install. Floors: level floors and walls = no need to shim
  • House is dried in faster, subs can start sooner — fewer wasted “crew” days
  • No roof venting required in low slope roofing
  • Better indoor air quality, smaller or no air purification systems required in many climates
  • Buildings & houses are FINISHED faster.  Less interest paid.
  • Warranty.  Does your lumber manufacturer offer any warranty? No. SIPs do.

Building with SIPs is a sound financial investment. When you factor in labor, waste hauling, and energy savings, SIP structures are comparable to traditionally built homes. In addition, energy efficient SIP homes often have a higher value on the real estate market and often qualify for energy efficient mortgages.

Structures built with SIPs perform above and beyond traditionally built buildings in numerous ways:

  • SIP structures are significantly more energy efficient than stick built/fiberglass insulation structures.
  • SIP buildings are stronger than stick built structures. Exhaustive laboratory testing has found them to be superior in both sheer resistance and tensile strength. SIP buildings are frequently found to be the only structures left standing after earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
  • SIP homes and buildings are significantly quieter than traditionally built structures. Studies have shown that a quieter home or office is a healthier place to be.
  • SIP structures have reduced air infiltration. When ventilated properly, a SIP structure has superior indoor air quality when compared with other traditional building methods.
  • SIP buildings can be erected significantly faster. No other structural framing or insulating is necessary.
  • SIP installation produces significantly less job site waste then traditional building materials. Most of the small amount of waste that is produced can be recycled.

Brock University Study

Brock University (in St.Catherines, Ontario) did a study using a true “side by side comparison” of two nearly identical houses that were built at the same time. One using conventional 2×6 stud wall & batt insulation construction while the other used only 4 1/2″ SIP’s.  Brock University Study

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Study

This very detailed report by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Study (in the US) describes a home that uses 50% less energy than the energy-efficient Building America standard. The home is constructed of SIP walls & roof. Oak Ridge Study

Developer Cost Comparison

Here is a report prepared by a developer in the US comparing and outlining the cost and savings in constructing with SIPs to conventional framed construction. NOTE this only outlines the construction costs and does not consider the monthly savings/return through lower energy bills. sip-stickframe_comparison

 Breaking it down

With all of these project factors considered, SIPs are regularly less expensive than other building systems. For more information and a detailed breakdown of cost comparisions please view the following pages: SIPs vs Sticks: The Breakdown SIPs vs Sticks: The Science Behind the Effiviency SIPs vs Sticks: Frame Construction  


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300-page building science manual for SIP construction. Includes HVAC strategies, drainage plans, air sealing and more!