SIPS Framing Extreme Panel

SIPs Framing Update 2023 - Extreme Panel System Install.

Thinking of Building With SIPS?

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

This video by Matt Risinger and Will King is a must-watch for anyone thinking of using SIPs in their next building project. Their hands-on experience and insights shed light on efficiency, innovation, and cost-effectiveness of using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) in residential construction. It’s evident that SIPs are more than just a building material; they represent a revolution in home construction, and have done in many countries for decades already.

What struck Matt most was the level of support provided by manufacturers like Extreme Panel Technologies. They go beyond supplying panels; they offer a comprehensive package that includes tools, fasteners, and even training. This support simplifies the transition for builders interested in incorporating SIPs into their projects.

The discussion on air tightness and the impact on energy efficiency is crucial. SIPs’ ability to achieve extremely low air leakage rates demonstrates their potential to create highly energy-efficient homes. The real-world examples of achieving air tightness below 0.3 ACH50 are truly impressive and bode well for the energy-efficient housing of the future.

The emphasis on collaboration between builders, panel manufacturers, and designers is key to maximising building efficiency and cost savings. Savings can be achieved with SIPs over traditional building systems like light timber framing, especially when the design is simple and effective. Many house builders and designers make the mistake of creating a convoluted building envelope, which adds complexity and time to the build, thereby increasing costs. To me simple designs can produce the best results if you use the right material combinations and building proportions.

Another key consideration with any building system, like SIPs, is that the foundation needs to be level and accurate to provide a good base for the SIPs. Unfortunately, not many foundation companies in the building and construction industries lay a true slab. Therefore, when a dimensionally accurate building system like SIPs is placed on an inconsistent foundation, issues start to arise and need to be fixed. It’s recommended to employ the best foundation team you can afford!

As Matt and Will mention in the video, SIPs construction is not just about the panels, but also about the overall building science that improves the quality, comfort, and efficiency of homes. This video and discussion offer an inspiring view of the building industry’s future, where SIPs are likely to play a central role in sustainable and energy-efficient housing.

Video Transcript

What’s up guys? I’m Matt Risinger, and I’m Will King. In the Build Show today, framing – everybody loves framing. But this is a very specific type of framing we’re going to be getting into the weeds on – SIPs construction. Now, what are SIPs? SIPs are Structural Insulated Panels. And we’ve got a display, but not only that, we went out to a job site, and we got all kinds of nerdy info. This is a long video, guys. We’re going to get into the weeds.

Today’s Build Show is sponsored by Extreme Panel Technologies. Let’s get going.

Will, as we start this video, let’s break down what the system is and what SIPs involve. So, explain to us in your mind what SIPs are.

SIPs is a layer of expanded polystyrene foam as the core, and it’s as simple as two layers of OSB creating the inside and outside sheathing, if you will, to give it both its strength that we’re looking for in a SIPs panel and just the ease of putting it up and the speed that really makes SIPs special.

Got it. So, the builder basically starts with the foundation, and that can vary depending on where you’re building. Because this company, Extreme Panel in particular, we’re talking about today, is based in Minnesota, shipping all over the U.S., even Alaska and Canada, that sort of thing. But these panels come out in a truck. They come to a finished, ready-to-go job site, uh, Foundation, I should say, and then these panels go together kind of like a penalized frame set. But what’s cool here is we’ve got a structural panel, not just an insulator panel. That’s where the name comes from.

Tell me about panel sizes. You were actually at a job last week, Will, in Kansas, that we’re going to cut to in a little bit. But the sizes that you saw on that job site, what were you looking at?

So, all the panels are going to be eight foot long or eight foot wide, I guess it’s kind of their max width because that’s what they’re buying these sheets in for their Factory. But then they vary in length. So if you’ve got 10-foot walls, you’re going to see 10-foot panels. But I actually saw a 22-foot panel get flown in for the roof. So that’s a really big panel, 8 by 20, 22 feet. Yeah, so you can get some very large panels, and that’s what really speeds up the process. And I think makes SIPs special. You know, it’s a very fast operation when you’re moving that kind of square footage at one time.

And speed, obviously, is one of the big benefits. What did you hear speed-wise from the framer on that website?

So basically, I asked that framer there, Eric, and we’re going to talk to him a little later in the video. But he said about half the time that it would have taken him to stick frame it, he can put together a SIPs house. Time in half. And it’s not just framing; it’s also insulation. So you’ve got to, if we were going to compare apples to apples, we’d have to add the insulation time in to our stick-built houses to really compare time to time. And I would throw in, it’s framing, it’s insulation, and you’ve got this kind of built-in air sealing benefit. It’s huge in SIPs, which I think is really difficult for you and I. We’ve been using all kinds of systems to get our houses more and more airtight, and this system, it’s kind of built-in. But this is not really a new type of framing, right? This has been around for a while.

Yeah, it’s basically a 100-year-old technology. I mean, SIPs is not new to, I guess, our market or the US, but over time, it has definitely evolved and became more efficient, I think, and they’re able to, I guess, engineer it to all of our specs and jobs that we’re needing. So it’s been around for a long time. But yeah, the air sealing of it, I mean, as soon as it’s erected or as soon as it’s put together, we’re airtight. That’s pretty cool.

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So, like I mentioned to you, that framing time at that job site in Kansas, and I think we have a clip of this, but basically, in six days, they were completely in the dry, completely framed and air-sealed. And he had a little windy unit air conditioner cooling the whole job. Holy cow. And what size house was that, about 2200 heated, I think?

Okay, so, five, six days to be totally dried in. That’s a big deal, slab foundation.

Yeah, so when I think SIPs, I think of this big, kind of thick block of insulation that’s continuous. Do you know some of the numbers involved? Like, these walls on the job site you were at were pretty similar to this mock-up. They were mimicking a traditional 2×6 wall, right? Same thickness.

That’s right, meaning the top plate here is basically a 2×6 with a half inch and half inch OSB sheathing on both sides. But they use a wider top and bottom plate so they can kind of slide those down in and structurally attach those. And that means that EPS is pretty high R-value, isn’t it?

Yeah, that foam is. So, I think the expanded polystyrene foam in this wall assembly is like an R-26. Holy cow, yes. And continuously, there’s no studs, so you have no thermal bridging. We have a continuous R-26 all the way around the house. And then how about that roof? This baby here is 12 and a quarter inches thick, so that’s R-51. Holy roof assembly.

So you have a really big insulated cap, and again, no thermal bridging, right? No 2x12s in the way to bridge that heat, one way or another, right?

Yep, it makes it a very insulated envelope for us. That’s a pretty big deal. A couple of things I want to mention about Extreme Panel. They obviously sponsored the video, but this is really more than a panel manufacturer. I’ve actually done a SIPs house before. I did a video on that years ago, and that was really just a panel manufacturer. I didn’t get any support from them on finding a framer. They had nobody on the job site they could come visit me, and I had to gather a bunch of materials for that job ahead of time. On the other hand, Extreme Panel, you’re going to find out here in a minute, they’ve got some really good support, and I think the builder on-site mentioned to you that was a big deal, especially in a remote job site.

That’s right. They are completely supporting their builders and their customers, and that’s something that really spoke to that framer that I met with in Kansas. But in regards to what all they ship out to the job site, it’s really all-inclusive. So it’s not just the panels. They’re actually sending all the tools that you need to put them together, including the battery-operated nailers and the sausage gun they use for their SIP sealer that we can talk about in a little while.

Okay, so all that’s included – all the fasteners, nails. What about glue-lambs or ridge beams?

Yeah, so you talk about the roof assemblies, they engineer their own glue-lam beams to go underneath them, and they’re going to be pre-cut, engineered, and ready to set when they arrive at your job site. So that’s legit. That’s neat. That’s impressive.

And I understand they’ve got support for Manual J days because when you build a house like this that’s extremely airtight and has really high R-values in the walls, you’re not going to want to use traditional HVAC equipment sizing. You’re definitely not going to want to use any rules of thumb. Those are out the window. So they’ve got a great person to link you up with so you can figure out, “Hey, what do I actually need to heat and cool this?” Because very likely it’s going to be half the size of a traditional build house.

That’s right. The other thing that was interesting about these guys is they’ve got a network of builders and frame contractors. In fact, some of them travel like Eric that you’re going to meet with here in a minute, who will go from town to town to help erect these buildings. Not just help to frame these buildings. And when you talk about that five-day cycle time on a job like that, that makes it doable for somebody to come in who’s from out of town to do that. That’s a really big deal.

I didn’t have that when I built a SIPs house several years ago, and I think that kind of all-in-one solutions type contractor from Extreme Panel really makes me want to build a house with them compared to maybe somebody that’s more like a panel distributor. And if you’re going to use your own framer, they also have the ability to bring out their experts and install team just to help train the framers. That way, they can be educated and put it together. It’s really not hard to do; they’re just a few simple steps they have to learn. Yeah, and then they’re off to the races. It’s really just kind of learning a slightly new process and educating your subs. That’s all it is.

That being said, Will, why don’t we go out to that Kansas job site? You kind of acted as my remote reporter, so let’s go see what Will found interesting out of that job site.

All right, so I’m here with Perry from Extreme Panel. We’re inside the garage of the SIPs house that they’ve been building, and I want to ask some questions because I’m seeing some things behind me that I don’t know what they are, I’m being honest. So let’s talk through some of these details.

All right, so we’ve got two bottom plates, right? And that’s not too abnormal, seeing one bottom plate with stick frame, but we got two, yeah. So, and that’s obviously just to lock that panel in, it’s kind of the inlet for the panel to sit down on top of, right?

So, every part around the panel has an inch and a half recess to it; that’s our standard recess. And that bottom plate is no different. So we see the treated plate, and then we put beads of glue between the top board, the white board on top, and that seal plate so we can stop air from migrating right from inside out, outside to in. And then we do the same thing on top of that panel, on top of that plate, we’ll put another bead of glue. So everything we do gets sealed, air-sealed. The sealant we use, it’s SIP Seal; it’s made for what we do, and it is simply air-tightening. We’re sealing it as we’re building it by sending out the automated gun, right? We’re speeding up construction by three to four times rather than one you have to pull by hand.

I can imagine, as much talk because I’ve seen you’d have some massive forearms in an hour and a half, your hands just gonna be hurting. So we send that out. On bigger projects, we’ll send two of them out, because it’s getting utilized all the time, right? And getting the feel for that gun is a big deal, so we’ll typically have one guy on the site that’s, you know, that’s their job. You don’t even notice like the roof panels, and they were flying those in this morning. They were actually, you know, I thought it was really smart. While I was on the ground, everybody’s nice and safe. Yeah, go ahead and reuse that sausage gun, put all the adhesive on it that you need before it even leaves the ground.

You’re doing everything you can do at a safe spot on the ground. When it goes up, it’s getting – first of all, you’re getting a better bead on it than they’re going to put on up there, yeah, and that’s the thing. Let’s get a good bead so that we know that there’s a good seal.

So, the bottom of this wall is recessed, we talked about that, and it sits on top of that double bottom plate. So that’s not a big deal. So let’s talk about fasteners. So, I know that the OSB at the bottom, I mean, I’m seeing screws here, correct? But I’ve also seen nails, and yeah, they’re kind of using both.

Yeah, so what they did was they screwed a few in together just to start it and get – I like putting a few screws in because this wall, once you set it up, it’s not going to go anyplace, I mean, unless we have a win today, but you’re gonna hold it, but it takes a couple little screws to just get things going. And then all of a sudden, when they’re done and they know that wall is good, you can nail it off, and we supply the nails, they will be six inches on center. We supply the nailer so that you have that right there, that’s right.

Now it’s a special nail, that’s not clipped, that way it’ll go into the OSB not too far, so it’s all about little details that we know, and no clip-tab nails with the right shank. I actually did a thing recently where I had to look this up, but ring shanks are actually double the holding strength of a Sushank, now we talk about the strength of your panel, which I want to get to because you mentioned earlier that this wall is about two and a half times or three times stronger.

And this is our engineer telling us this, right? That when we take our six-inch wall, we could compare that to a 2×10 at 16 inches on center axial load-bearing, so that’s a big deal. It can take a lot more load than what you would think it does. Now in this wall, there’s no studs, it is solid foam except for in the corner, the bottom plate, top plate, and then like around the doors here, where that will get infilled with lumber so we can fasten the door to it, right?

Right, but literally zero studs, which is great. I was talking earlier, having all this OSB behind your sheetrock, you never have to worry about hitting a stud when you’re hanging a mirror, you never have to worry about it, or ADA bars or toilet paper holders, anything in a house, right? So, I think that’s a little point to bring up, and people have asked, “Do I have to sheetrock it?” Yes, you’re still going to sheetrock it to get your fire rating, but a benefit of this is not having the cavity right away. So, the fire gets through sheetrock, then what do we get? We get into a cavity here, we get through the sheetrock, we get into another layer of sheetrock, and then we get into foam that has flame retardant in it, so if that flame is, if it’s still going, yeah, it’s going to burn, but it can extinguish itself if there’s no oxygen, right? So, it’s a good point, yeah.

The first thing I’ll be honest when I look at a SIPs panel wall, when as a new builder coming into SIPs, how do my electricians get in here? Because I’m thinking that I’m probably going to get a little talking to by my electrician if I say, “Hey, I’m going to build a SIPs house,” correct?

And I’ll show him that, yeah. Every box goes in OSB, right? But you guys got that figured out, so tell me about it.

What we’ve done is we’ve tried to create a channel system through the panels that can be utilized for any wall, it doesn’t matter where you’re building it. Like here in the garage, we just put a chase at the switch height, right?

Yeah, so we know that at this red line, there’s a chase going all the way across.

Okay.

We have a red line down there, there’s a chase going up right there, and it’s real simple, this is an eight-foot-wide panel, and that chase is two feet from that edge and two feet from this edge, and then it’s always this 44, 40 whatever inches off the ground. But creating that makes our wiring actually quite simple. So, they’re going to cut out their box, yeah, their light switches, they’re going to cut that out, pull the foam out to get to the chase. You said it’s about two inches from the face, two inches from the back of the face, and then they can use like a remodel box, right?

They work really well. There’s a rectangle box that has a two-inch metal tab on it that it actually mounts right to the OSB that works well. In this build, Eric, our counts builder was smart enough to know that, “Hey, we have some wiring up in the ceiling that the electricians are going to struggle with,” right? So he did it, and it took him roughly half an hour to run the wire, get it from point A to point B where it needed to go, right?

Electricity makes a lot of sense, and for us, we’re looking at a panel system that has a grid system in it, but if we know where the lighting is going to go, we can take that grid system and change it according to how they want to wire it and give them chases to accommodate the lighting the best that we can.

Okay.

So, they have a real lighting plan, and everything you guys could accommodate that?

We can accommodate it as much as possible. And then a conversation with the electrician, ten minutes, is really what it takes, and they don’t have to double charge or overcharge. It’s really not rocket science; it’s just you can’t see it, so it makes them nervous.

So how about drains and like PEX plumbing lines? I’m assuming ideally it’s going to have to be in the slab, right? That’s gonna be the best case, so you’re stubbed up.

So stub it up, and we’re from Minnesota, we don’t put any vents. Plumbing, we leave that out, and then we remind people in Texas, “Hey, didn’t we have some freezing situations?” So we try to say, “Okay, can we move those vents to an interior wall, can we move that plumbing to an interior wall? How can we accommodate things to make that smarter and not have a vent that could possibly freeze or water you have to have.” But there are certain things that go through, but in most part, let’s try to take out what we don’t have something. Anytime you can get water out next to your wall, it makes sense, right?

I mean, because in a non-northern climate like you guys, I mean it gets cold in Alabama, oh yeah, even where I live at, Christmas this year, we were like zero, two degrees for like an entire week, which we were all about to die because we didn’t know what to do, but lots of water leaks, lots, lots of issues in houses when we get cold like that, so especially with power outages, you know, that’s a big deal.

“So, um, let’s move on to the roof. Yeah. So, I think that’s a big, um, something I wasn’t expecting when I got here. I was, I was, I was, I had this visualized, but talking about these big, I mean this is 22 feet, 22 to 24 feet, I’m not quite sure the length of this, but it’s one roof panel. Here we have a main ridge beam and then what we call a mid-beam in between. And then, actually, on the other side here, we have a 10-foot wall, plus we have a couple more plates to get us up a little higher because that 10-foot’s a critical point for our cut-off of our panel. We can make a 20-foot panel, so we cut it in half, we can make a 24-foot panel, cut it in half. So, we try to utilize and maximize the yield of the product. On the other side where we have an 8-foot wall, we actually bubble-cut the wall so that we can have a better connection, right? But here, a lot of guys like this because then they can kind of burrow out the wood to run a wire if they want to. So, there’s pros and cons of both.

Okay, but like here, we designed the ridge beams. They got, they were sized and specified according to this site right here. And then, and you guys handle that?

We handle all that. Your design teams and spacing right. Now underneath these beams, we have a glue lam within the wall so you can’t even tell it’s there right now, okay.

But I know it’s there. And like here, we have a garage door header.

Yeah. Did that post come down?

That post will come. It will come pre-labeled for that panel. Say that panel is 14 and 15, I would say 14 and 15 on it. It’s cut to length in between them, essentially, yes.

I guess, and it’s actually pre-cut to lengths, so it’s ready to fit in, okay. So all those things, the headers that we make, we make a two-ply insulated header. So, for the northern climate especially, we’re continual insulation, right? Except for those bottom plates, top plates, and even the header has an insulated header. So, all those little details make a big difference, and from a contractor standpoint, to have this header put together, cut to length. Oh, it’s even in the right situation instead of a 48-foot LVL coming out, yeah. You’re dealing with a piece that’s already… just put it in, exactly.

I just can’t imagine any other way to get a fully framed house basically in the draw in five days with basically four guys. And this is a, you know, it’s only what, 3-400 on the roof, but even if you, let’s talk about two-story or let’s talk about maybe 5 or 6,000 square feet, something that I’m used to building, we’re still talking two weeks, yeah.

And they’re out, where it takes us anywhere from 8, 9 weeks to stick frame it, so that’s a significant cost savings in labor, and we’re already in the dry that fast. If you catch the weather right, this thing never even gets rained on.

Yeah. That’s incredible. You just explained every bit of that, and I’d love it. You’ve been teaching me something because it’s, it’s, uh, to have a house done. And you know, we were talking about houses that we’ve done in Alabama, small, small, little affordable homes that we, they were built in a day and three-quarter, right. And it’s to stick frame that, they would be two weeks to three weeks, and it’s been raining so much on those job sites that they can’t get to it, yeah. And then all the elements come into the building because now the floor is wet, the studs are wet, everything is soaked, and by getting it in the dry, you’re changing the game of the finish of this house. We even have a period after we get ours finally in the dry and sealed off where we have to run dehumidifiers for an extended period of time to help dry out all the rainwater and all the bolt water so that we don’t have issues later on with trim cracking and that kind of thing. So, that’s a big deal.

Let’s talk about, you know, one of the naysayers out there, right? So, SIP panels, the thing that immediately comes to mind when I’m talking to somebody about SIPs, and I did that quite a bit before I came to see you, by the way, yeah. And people say, “Well, yeah, you’re good till you remodel, you’re good till you have to remodel something or you have to cut out a new opening or whatever.” But after what I’ve seen today, that’s not necessarily true.

No, because I think that just like what I’m seeing here with this header, that’s just an engineering question with you guys, get this back, and you’re off to the races. We can design that header; we’ll figure out what’s going on above it, we’ll get the header size, get the support sized, cut the opening right, have one of the guys come out with their tools and cut it, it’s not a big deal. You can even do it with normal construction tools, drill four corners, cut it on the inside, cut it on the outside, take a Sawzall and notch it out. So, you definitely don’t want to just hire a random company that’s never cut SIPs to come cut a hole, that probably has happened.

Well, sure. But the industry has evolved. So, you had all these companies that, “Hey, I just want to sell raw-link SIPs because it’s quick, I don’t have to have any liability, it’s just an easy answer.” The more we got into prefabbing and making everything exact, it’s almost like having a cabinet design where everything is exact, and that’s how this is. It takes so much time out of the process that it’s paying for that extra that we’re doing in our factory, right. So, all those little things add up to a lot of time saved.

Absolutely. Well, I’d say I’m impressed, and I appreciate the hospitality. So much fun. Thank you. Thanks again.

So, I’m here with Eric Couch from Premier Homes in Northwest Missouri, is that right?

I live in Maryville, Missouri, so, but this is Tescott, Kansas, where we are today.

So, Eric and his guys have just built this house that we’re at today, and this is about 3,400 square feet of SIP walls and SIP roofs. So, tell me about the man-hours. So, like, what are you, you said this has been going since Friday, so how many man-hours is that for you?

We started Friday about 1 o’clock with two guys. We added a few guys throughout the week on some things. But we had 160 hours in the panels.

Wow.

And we had about 130 hours in the wall framing inside and the porch overhang on the front.

So, you’re thinking that’s probably about half of the time if you were going to… probably leave this house, probably half of what you do. And you know, that also includes, you know, the framing, the sheeting, and insulating the whole house.

It’s true because it’s already insulated when it’s put up. I actually noticed as soon as you guys have it framed, you’ve already got a window unit. Go.

Yesterday afternoon at 1 o’clock, we put a window air conditioner in because it’s supposed to be 110 here on Saturday and the plumber and electrician want to come work, yeah. So we stuck a window air conditioner so they could, yeah, do that and we could have everybody here today and they can see the difference between outside and inside, and, yeah, it, you know, with just a little 20,000 BTU air conditioner, it’s, yeah, it’s not a lot, but it’s making the difference probably two 2,500 square feet that’s in there, yeah, or something like that.

Well, you know, I think about, like, the I guess, air tightness, and that’s a big conversation in the industry. We’re all talking about air tightness, and as energy codes have changed, we’re all having to build those, I guess we could call them, for today, those leaky stick-built houses, we’re having to air seal them. But I feel like SIPs kind of revolutionize the industry in air tightness, I guess your blower door test. What are you seeing air tightness with what we’ve just seen today?

Most of the ones that we’ve tested have been 0.2, 0.3, you know, or less, yeah.

And you know, it’s amazing, you know, my guys even want to be there when we’re doing the blower door because they know that they’ve done the right thing too, right? So I think it gives them some, you know, some ownership in the project because they see, well, we can, we can do this, and that’s what I like about working with Extreme. I mean, they do a lot with building science when they do their summits and they do the kind of their training, right? We talk very little about panels at those, it’s more about all the other things that go with it to make the package work, yeah. You know, the bath fans, the, you know, mini-splits or whatever you’re going to use to make everything a complete unit instead of, we’re going to sell you panels, yeah, and then you bring up Extreme Panel, so let’s talk about that. So, if you’re a new builder, all right, who a lot of the guys watching this video, they’re going to be well, they’re already in the industry, they’re getting into it, and they’re curious about SIPs. So just pretend like you’re talking to me because I haven’t built with SIPs before. Full transparency. But you’ve built with a lot of different manufacturers, I think you’ve, you obviously have lots of years. What makes them stand out and how do you get started? Like, what’s the process?

The biggest thing is, you know, you give them a set of plans and let them do a take-off of it. I like the fact that with Extreme, I mean, they send everything. The nail package, the weatherization package, your Tyvek, you know, house paper. I mean, even the Milwaukee sausage gun.

Yeah.

The Milwaukee sausage gun, the nails, the screws, I mean, if, if you needed to put this house together, you don’t have to, you know, from here, it’s 35 minutes to go to, you know, yeah, a place to get tools or screws or whatever, you know, so we’re out here on the job site, and, you know, if it’s not in that trailer, I don’t want to have to go get it because it costs you money.

Yeah.

And, you know, not every other… I’ve worked with two other manufacturers. I mean, I’d have nothing bad to say about their panels, right, other than quality control means a lot, and with Extreme, I mean, if I have a question on panels and how to make things better, we, you know, me and several of the other builders will sit down, you know, if we have several of them here today, that we all bounce those things off one another and say, “Well, if you would make the panels this with the tolerances, when we’re on site, we’re not trimming panels at the end and, you know, those things.” And they’ve listened, and, you know, support, the field support has been great.

“I think as a builder, when you have a vendor like that that you can really get a good relationship with, it makes their product even better. Because not only are they continuing to advance what they’re building, but they’re also supporting you and your company. And honestly, I bet if I had to guess, these guys not only are there to support for things like the panels, but you mentioned things like bath fans and ventilation and all the other things that go into a house like this. Yeah, when we talk about heating and cooling equipment, I mean, if they don’t have someone there that knows, they can connect me with that person that does, yeah. I mean, it’s wonderful that they have that network of suppliers and stuff. When they do those Summits, it’s tables all the way around the room of people that might be windows, it might be bath fans, it might be high-velocity heating and cooling, you know, different things that I don’t see at my local heating and cooling place or whatever, you know. And it doesn’t take anything special to do these. It’s just getting your people to, you know, the change isn’t a four-letter word system, yeah. It’s my heating and cooling guy that’s been doing mine, has done them with me from day one. In the first house, he’s like, ‘I don’t believe you that that’s what size the unit we’re putting on there.’ So, you know, my house, he said should be a two-ton heat pump. He put a three that would modulate down to run at 25%, right, to make him feel comfortable, yeah. He says, ‘I come to your house all the time, I’ve never seen it above stage two, and it has five stages.’ So, it’s getting that comfort factor, and it’s going to take, you know, it always takes a little bit of time to get people to work with you, to understand that when you’re building tight envelopes and efficient homes, you have to have that mechanical guy that knows what he’s doing. Otherwise, unfortunately, the system itself, like SIPs, would get the bad reputation, even though it’s not that. That’s not the issue. The issue is actually the bad mechanicals going into it.”

“Eric, thanks for having us out, man. I will say I have been very impressed. It’s fun watching all this go together, and I appreciate you guys are here because it’s cool to, you know, share with other people, yeah, absolutely. That’s what I think is the key. It’s not just to continue building; it’s to, you know, teach other people and share that knowledge.”

“So, real quick, if anybody’s watching this video and they’re trying to find somebody to help them with the install, how do they find you? What’s the best place to reach you? Facebook’s probably the best. You can reach me through Extreme Panel. If you talk to them about panels, they have a network of builders that we all work together. And, you know, if I’m not in that area and can’t do it, I mean, I know of three others that they work with regularly that we can, you know, we all share that direction. Yeah, so I mean, that’s how I would, you know, tackle it because we all have different skill sets and do different projects, so it’s nice to, you know, team up with them. I know I’m going to Mississippi to do one. I’ve been to Arkansas. I mean, we kind of go a little bit everywhere. But, and that’s why this system’s great because you can go to Mississippi for that house. It’s gonna be six days. Wow, that’s incredible, and it’s right on the coast, so what better place to go for a week? Alright, well, thanks again for having us, man. Let’s go get some food. Sounds good, all right.”

“So, I think we’ve covered what we needed to in the field. I hope you learned a lot about SIPs construction today, because I know I sure have. And with that being said, it’s time to get you back to Austin with Matt to take a little bit deeper dive into the SIPs panels. Okay, y’all, Will is back from the job site, and guess who he brought with him, a couple of the Extreme Panel guys. First off, let me introduce to you Perry and Josh. Guys, tell me what you do with Extreme Panel. By the way, I’ve been with Extreme for 24 years. I’ve been in sales the whole time, and it’s been such a fun product to know and to get to know really, really well. I’ve loved every second of my 24 years there. So we got two decades of experience with you. How about you, Josh? I’ve been with Extreme now for 15 years. Just love and experience as well. Very cool. So this is the first time you were, Will, on a job site with SIPs going on. That’s right. Tell me some of your thoughts now that you’re back from Kansas. What are the things that stick out for you about the system that was impressed? I have to say I was a little bit doubtful going out there, thinking, ‘What are we going to be looking at?’ Honestly, I had the wall system envisioned. I had no idea what the roof system was going to look like. That really blew my mind, if I’m being honest. But really, the takeaways for me were just the speed that they were able to frame that house. That was incredible. I mean, just the in-the-dry time was wild to me. Yeah. So that was a big one. Because you’re saving a ton of frame and labor just in speed, and then the whole, I guess, the savings on the whole project just because of the speed of it. And then really the fact that it’s already insulated and, most importantly, air-sealed as soon as it’s put up. So it’s a really neat thing because, like Eric was able to put a little window unit air conditioner in that thing and keep it cool. And then I mean, it’s hot in Kansas this time of the year, just like it is here in Austin or back in Alabama. And he, like he said, the plumbers sure had to come work at his job when it’s a nice 70 degrees inside. So, yeah, it was neat. I have to think just the instant air seal is so neat about SIPs. So Perry, I used early on the example of kind of a Yeti cooler, high-performance cooler with thick insulation that’s continuous and a good air seal. Any anecdotal stories from your 20 years from people about their heating and cooling bills that you’d pass on to us? We see it all every day. There’s never a customer that’s called that’s really not happy about their energy consumption because it’s half, at least, of what it normally would be. I mean, like our factory, we were just talking about in December, 75,000 square feet for 300 bucks, roughly, to heat our buildings in Minnesota. Minnesota. Your reactor is built from your panels. 100% from our panels. And your bill on 75,000 square feet of heated space in freaking Minnesota is how much? It’s around 300 to 350. Sure. Yeah, it’s and that’s an average of 20-foot ceilings probably too, so the volume is incredible. Wow. So yeah, I mean, our customers are all happy. And to have a build-up in five or six days and to be air-conditioning it, that’s unheard of in normal construction. You just don’t have that. That’s pretty serious. Yeah. Josh, tell me about that cycle time when it comes to drying in because we’ve got an OSB panel here. I don’t think of OSB as being very waterproof. So, we want to get this house dried in. What does that cycle time do for your builders in terms of being able to dry in? Well, I mean, once the best part about our panel, too, I think, is the zinc-buried OSB. Okay. Having that outside skin and inside skin have the zinc buried in it. So, anti-fungal, termite-resistant, carpenter ant-resistant. The drying time is really, you know, probably 50% less when it comes to a SIP panel versus a stick-built construction. That’s a big deal. And for the nerds out there that are thinking, ‘I’m worried about this expanded polystyrene core,’ like, what does that do for me, Perry, in terms of moisture movement, being able to dry the building out? What do you tell those folks? Well, and this will actually take on some moisture, but it only takes on so much. There’s moisture inside of it. It’ll float. So it’s actually that doesn’t care about the moisture unless it just can’t ever escape out of it. And by being able to dry, which we would always promote a surface on the exterior that would be able to dry, that’s the key, is always keeping it if it does get wet to be able to dry it out.”

“All right, so that fast, quick, always having that air movement on the outside. And by ‘dry,’ you mean a membrane that has Vapor Permians. Vapor Permians is a big deal on the top of the skin. Say that there’s moisture from the build that needs to get out. If we put ice and water on top of this, it’s bonded right to it; it can never escape. So it really has a hard time escaping. So by using the right products on the top and on the outside, we can assist the moisture potential problem from ever happening.”

“Perry, actually, now that you mentioned that, I wonder if we can pull up the drone footage that you guys took last week. Because you guys were flying panels in place, and there were a couple of things I wanted to ask on that.”

“In this image, you’re seeing it looks like a pretty big panel coming in, which, with a piece of equipment, can you explain what’s going on in that?”

“Sure, so in this case, we have an 8-foot by 24-foot panel. It’s pre-cut at the top for the very ridge. You can notice that lift plate that we’re using. That lift plate is one that we have made at Extreme Panel. It’s way overbuilt, and that comes from our factory. We have them so you can remove them. There are 18 holes in that lift plate that you can put screws into, and we simply use a 2-inch panel screw that works great. We can lift it right from the top skin. As long as it’s not a 50-mile-an-hour, 30-mile-an-hour wind day, which it was windy that day, so you can see that we got two ropes off of it. But by guiding that panel that way, they can maneuver the panel however they need to do it.”

“Here they’ve got a Skytrak. It’s not a huge one, but he has an extension on it that allows him to reach a lot of it. About 75 percent of our jobs are done with the Skytrak, but a lot of guys prefer a crane. They’ll just set a crane up and lift the whole thing into the site.”

“When the panels are that big, you’re not going to be lifting those by hand. It’s all done with machinery, and putting that up and having it up in a matter of a minute or two. That’s 192 square feet of insulated roof put up in that amount of time. Holy cow.”

“Now I’m seeing before that panel drops, it looks like a big old glue lam. Talk to me about that process for the framer installing that glue lam. Is there a metal connector he’s got to put on first, like, you know, if we’re building traditional framing, I’m thinking about a hanger that needs to be special ordered from Simpson, right?”

“What’s that process look like?”

“Well, and yes, sometimes we have those. In this case, we actually had the pockets put right into the wall. Our CNC cuts out that pocket perfectly ahead of time, ahead of time at the factory, so that’s all done back in Minnesota. So then the framer just needs to trim the glue lam and cut the ridge to fit. That Ridge is actually all done. That comes with that Ridge cut already in it. So underneath that is a glue lam column supporting that within our wall system. So in that shot that you’re looking at in that wall, there’s three pieces of glue lam that would hold up three Ridge beams. You’re only seeing the two, the one up the top and then this one, mid-beam. Yeah, but it gives them ample support for that 8 by 24 panel.”

“That’s awesome. What have we missed, guys? We talked about amazing cycle time. We talked about big panel size. I know something I was going to ask you, Perry. Talk to me about the strength of your wall panels compared to your traditional framing. Is this as strong as or stronger even than a 2×6 assembly? It’s actually stronger than a 2×6. Our engineer has told us a 2×10, 16 on center is what you would compare that to. Holy Cow!”

“So that’s two to three times stronger than a conventional stud frame wall. Shear walls, I mean, why wouldn’t you build an interior wall if you needed a shear wall on the inside, build it with these panels because it’s all sheathing. You know, we have states where you’re worried about wall bracing where they’re just sheeting a corner. Well, this is perfect for the shear because it’s all about wall bracing. And, you know, when this gets put together, the fasteners are what the engineer has used. But the SIP seal that we use adds way more strength. It can almost take the fasteners out, and that SIP seal is going to hold this thing, which is not calculated in any of our numbers. Right, so that’s pretty wild. You know what else isn’t calculated in any of your numbers, I bet the ability to put a picture or maybe even a cabinet wherever you’d like, right?”

“I wonder if people are like, ‘Oh man, this is amazing. I don’t have to block for anything; it’s pre-blocked, right?’ Cabinet guys absolutely love it because I can screw that cabinet right to the wall.”

“One of the things on our checklist is always to add blocking in bathrooms for future ADA bars, accessibility, or whatever. That’s a big deal.”

“That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s actually a question I’ve been asked already.”

“So we offer a weatherization package is what we call it, and we offer Tyvek and a drain screen. It’s just a rain screen. Basically, it’s crinkly, and it creates a drainage plane behind the siding. It all really comes down to what siding you’re going to use. If you’re going to use Hardie board, LP SmartSide, all right, you know, we want to make sure we ask that question before we deliver that product to the site to make sure it’s what the siding needs.”

“And for my nerdy builder friends watching this, I would love to see somebody take this Extreme Panel and do a Prosoco R-Guard on top of that, a fluid-applied system. Sure, yeah, this would be the perfect substrate to do a fluid-applied on top of, like the R-Guard. You know, use the joint and seam, which is the pink one at all the bottom joints where it meets the foundation as an extra belt and suspenders seal. Do the body and the orange fluid-applied. All of your rough openings could be done with the fluid-applied as well because that would have no issues on this expanded polystyrene foam as well and make a really bulletproof system. I like that a lot.”

“That’s wild stuff. And when it comes to weather barrier on the outside, basically, we’ve got this OSB skin, which is really airtight to begin with. We’re not worried about air tightness, but we want to make sure that it’s waterproof. I assume probably most people are using traditional house wraps, is that right?”

“Yeah, I mean, we offer a weatherization package. It’s all about wall bracing. You know, when this gets put together, the fasteners are what the engineer has used. But the SIP seal that we use adds way more strength. It can almost take the fasteners out, and that SIP seal is going to hold this thing, which is not calculated in any of our numbers.”

“What have we missed, guys? We talked about amazing cycle time, we talked about big panel size. I know something I was going to ask you, Perry. Talk to me about the strength of your wall panels compared to your traditional framing. Is this as strong as or stronger even than a 2×6 assembly?”

“It’s actually stronger than a 2×6. Our engineer has told us a 2×10, 16 on center is what you would compare that to. Holy cow! So that’s two to three times stronger than a conventional stud frame wall. Shear walls. I mean, why wouldn’t you build an interior wall if you needed a shear wall on the inside, build it with these panels because it’s all sheathing. You know, we have states where you’re worried about wall bracing where they’re just sheeting a corner. Well, this is perfect for the shear because it’s all about wall bracing.”

“And, you know, when this gets put together, the fasteners are what the engineer has used. But the SIP seal that we use adds way more strength. It can almost take the fasteners out, and that SIP seal is going to hold this thing, which is not calculated in any of our numbers.”

“That’s pretty wild.”

“You know what else isn’t calculated in any of your numbers, I bet the ability to put a picture or maybe even a cabinet wherever you’d like, right?”

“I wonder if people are like, ‘Oh man, this is amazing. I don’t have to block for anything; it’s pre-blocked, right?'”

“Cabinet guys absolutely love it because I can screw that cabinet right to the wall.”

“One of the things on our checklist is always to add blocking in bathrooms for future ADA bars, accessibility, if whatever that’s about, right.”

“That’s a really big deal. I love that conditioned attic space, and I would like to see more builders in the South using your system because we’ve got so many attics up here that are really dumb, that are traditional vented attics that have ductwork up in the attic space when it’s 140 degrees up there, and putting your ductwork, your mechanicals inside this attic with an R-52 lid on top of that that also has really good airtightness. I mean, didn’t I hear Eric say that he’s getting passive house numbers from his builds when it comes to air tightness? The one he had tested lately was like 0.2 in the middle of Kansas without any specialized equipment or weirdo whatever tapes or sealants or the normal system.”

“That’s a system that’s really cool and really speaks to me. I like that a lot.”

“Can you guys also do walls in thicker sizes as well?”

“We offer from 4-inch panels up to 12.25-inch panels.”

“So that’s serious. You’ve done 12.25-inch walls. You know, you could probably heat that one.”

“Yeah, that’s one thing. I’ve been asked already.”

“So I’m switching gears here a little bit, but, you know, as I see that roof panel will go in, the first thing I think of is automatically you guys are going to have all of your HVAC systems in the air-conditioned space because you’ve got a conditioned attic built in with your system. I really like that. But what’s that going to do to my mechanicals? I’m suspecting we’re going to have much smaller mechanicals, is that right?”

“Perry, typically we’re running at least half as far as the BTUs needed, and your AC load can be cut in half, and you actually want it to be cut in half because we’re so efficient. You need that equipment to run 100% efficient. Yeah, if it’s not running, it’s not efficient. So people think that, hey, if my air conditioner is on for 10 minutes and it shuts off, that’s great. No, that’s not true. You really want it to run so it’s the dehumidification process, right, gets going, and that’s the key for health and for the building itself. We want that unit to run for a long time.”

“In effect, we want to put that little four-cylinder engine in that runs a lot rather than putting a big V8 engine that’s too big, isn’t sized correctly, that just runs for a short time, cools it down but doesn’t take care of that latent humidity, right, that latent moisture in there. And that’s one thing we do, we work with energy raiders to help us with sizing for wherever this house is. What are the specifics that’ll make that house work right. That’s a really big deal. I love that conditioned attic space, and I would like to see more builders in the South using your system because we’ve got so many attics up here that are really dumb, that are traditional vented attics that have ductwork up in the attic space when it’s 140 degrees up there and putting your ductwork, your mechanicals inside this attic with an R-52 lid on top of that that also has really good airtightness. I mean, didn’t I hear Eric say that he’s getting passive house numbers from his builds when it comes to air tightness? The one he had tested lately was like 0.2 in the middle of Kansas without any specialized equipment or weirdo whatever tapes or sealants or the normal system.”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a system that’s really cool that really speaks to me. I like that a lot. Well, I’m thinking about Perry and Josh. Let’s actually cut to this section of the guys putting the wall up because I think I’d like to hear you guys kind of narrate what’s happening in the scene in terms of how the panels go together, what’s going on with that ceiling, what’s happening in the city.”

“So what they’re doing there is they’re actually adding a SIP seal to the joint, and they’re creating a picture frame on the foam itself. They’re also putting ceiling at the seal plate to create a gasket at the joint. What’s happening there is they’re going to actually lift that panel up in the air, and there’s a box blind insulated box spline at the joint already. So that’s basically going to be like a tongue and groove fit at that joint, and that’s what this is right here on the display. This is that box, exactly right, gotcha.”

“Yeah, and that bottom plate that’s anchored to the concrete, that’s just traditional 2x material, right? It’s a slab on grade. We actually place a treated base plate and anchor that to the concrete. Then we add a 2×6 on top of that treated base plate. It’s recessed an inch and a half at the bottom and slides over the top of that 2×6 and rests on top of the treated. Got it, OSB. So that way, the bottom of your OSB is actually at least an inch and a half off the concrete, and you’re seeing kind of like this top plate here, a wider piece on the bottom, and then inside that assembly is sandwiched in another 2×6 base, exactly right, yeah.”

“Now, can you guys also do walls in thicker sizes as well? I mean, basically, we offer from 4-inch panels up to 12.25-inch panels. 12.25-inch walls? You know, that’s serious. We’ve done it before. We’re doing 12.25 on the wall. We’re doing several of them right now in Minneapolis coming up here this year. You could probably heat that one.”

“And how about roof thicknesses up to 12.25, up to 12.25, R51, basically. But if you wanted to, you could also add a couple inches of rigid foam on the top deck, too, right? If you wanted to get an R100 roof assembly or an R75, that would be no big deal. Otherwise, you can also go to a Neopor foam, a graphite foam. That adds graphite within the foam and gets you a higher R-value. GPS foam, exactly right. So that’ll give you a graphite in the foam, which gets you an R60 on that roof. Holy cow, that’s wild. Cool stuff.”

“And when it comes to weather barrier on the outside, basically, we’ve got this OSB skin, which is really airtight to begin with. We’re not worried about necessarily air tightness, but we want to make sure that it’s waterproof, water-resistant, I guess, technically is the right term. We’re not building a submarine here; that’s waterproof, right?”

“I assume probably most people are using traditional house wraps, is that right? Yeah, I mean, we offer a weatherization package is what we call it, and we offer a Tyvek Drain Screen. It’s just a rainscreen, basically. It’s crinkly, yeah, it’s crinkly, and it creates a drainage plane behind the siding. It all really comes down to what siding you’re going to use. If you’re going to use Hardie board, LP SmartSide, alright, you know, we want to make sure we ask that question before we deliver that product to the site to make sure it’s what the siding needs.”

“And for my nerdy builder friends watching this, I would love to see somebody take this extreme panel and do a Prosoco R-Guard on top of that, a fluid-applied system. Sure, yeah, this would be the perfect substrate to do a fluid-applied on top of, like the R-Guard, you know, use the joint and seam, which is the pink one, at all the bottom joints where it meets the foundation as an extra built-in suspenders seal. Do the body in the orange fluid-applied, like I’ve made a video on not too long ago, which is, I think they call it the R-Guard. And then, boy, all of your rough openings could be done with the fluid-applied as well because that would have no issues on this expanded polystyrene foam as well and make a really bulletproof system.”

“I like that a lot. What have we missed, guys? We talked about amazing cycle time; we talked about big panel size. I know something I was going to ask you, Perry. Talk to me about the strength of your wall panels compared to your traditional framing. You know, this is sized kind of like a 2×6. Is this as strong as or stronger even than a 2×6 assembly?”

“It’s actually stronger than a 2×6. Our engineer has told us a 2×10, 16 on center is what you would compare that to. Holy cow, so two to three times stronger than a conventional stud frame wall. Shear walls, I mean, why wouldn’t you build an interior wall if you needed a shear wall on the inside? Build it with these panels because it’s all sheathing. We have states where you’re worried about wall bracing where they’re just sheeting a corner; well, this is perfect for the shear because it’s all about wall bracing.”

“And when this gets put together, the fasteners are what the engineer has used, but the SIP seal that we use adds way more strength. It can almost take the fasteners out, and that SIP seal is going to hold this thing, which is not calculated in any of our numbers. Right, so that’s pretty wild.”

“You know what else isn’t calculated in any of your numbers? I bet the ability to put a picture or maybe even a cabinet wherever you’d like, right?”

“I wonder if people are like, ‘Oh man, this is amazing. I don’t have to block for anything; it’s pre-blocked, right?’ Cabinet guys absolutely love it because I can screw that cabinet right to the wall. You know, really, it comes down to the fasting schedule to screw that, how much weight you want to put under that wall.”

“One of the things on our checklist is always to add blocking in bathrooms for future ADA bars, accessibility, or whatever, right? That’s about right, and that’s just no more, no.”

“All right, we’ve talked about a lot of really top-notch things, some really cool things. There’s got to be some downsides, and one of them that comes to mind that I’m worried about is how do I want an electrical?”

“It’s really not a big deal, and a 10-minute conversation with the electrician will go a long way because they’re just scared; they’ve never seen it before. They simply don’t know that we have a grid system of chases throughout the wall and throughout the roof.”

“And then, you know, we’re trying to take the electrical plan for the lighting, and we’re trying to accommodate that as much as we can, so we can try to take the fear out of it for them. And then they realize it’s really not that big of a deal; my hole’s already made; I just got to go find it and utilize it. Gotcha, so yes, there it’s different because they can’t see it, but in actuality, it’s not any harder.”

“That makes sense. Now, all the interior walls are traditional, probably 2×4 stick framing, so the electrician’s going to frame and wire, or not frame, wire those traditional, right?”

“But how does that work with those chases you mentioned, like this hole that I’m seeing in this top plate? Is that coming from you guys?”

“This hole here actually was put in by the contractor on site because we have a vertical chase right here, so having that cut by the contractor so the electrician has that access is really nice. And if it were me, there’s one every four feet, a vertical chase; I would cut one every eight to twelve feet so that he has access to a certain segmental wall but not overdoing cutting the holes into that. Is that what those red lines were that I saw? We have those all marked. The factory just takes a marker to signify there’s a chase behind it. That’s all from the inside so that you know that’s there, okay, that makes sense.”

“So really, it’s not longer necessarily an electrical; in fact, they may actually be drilling less. We even have bids to come back in less, and that’s reality. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal, and we’ve got to take the fear out of it for them. We have some really cool lighting systems that we’ve been introduced to that we’ll talk about that are really fun because you’re not running 110 in the roof; you’re doing 18-gauge wire, oh wow. So it’s really cool, low-volt, low-voltage, and literally low volts. You’re talking about putting the drivers in a closet and then running thermostat wire up into the roof. That’s crazy; it’s cool stuff.”

“So none of that heat is in the roof, and at the light, yeah. So introducing things like that into this system is what we’re kind of all about. What can we do to improve our already great SIP system? What products can go in it that are better? That’s pretty cool.”

“Josh, talk to me about waste; is there much panel cutting, is there much dumpster use, what can we expect on the job site in terms of waste from your system with Extreme Panel? You know, a lot of things, I think everything kind of shows up pre-cut; your headers are all pre-made; your header supports are all done; all your window bucking materials are there. The pile of waste on a job site really could fit into a 40-gallon garbage container, which you’re going to see with the Kansas City jobs. I mean, there’s very minimal waste; that’s pretty impressive. Good stuff.”

“Let’s switch gears because you actually brought with you a builder-developer who has switched to using Extreme Panel from some traditional construction, and he’s actually going to get into some of the costs and the dollars involved in his project and why he made that decision. So that being said, let’s reset and get Matthew over here. Matt, thanks for joining us, brother. Sure appreciate it. So by way of introduction, Matt, you are a builder-developer in Alabama, actually not too far from here. Give us a quick background on who you are.”

“Yeah, so I work for Navigate Affordable Housing Partners. We’re primarily a community development organization. Our bread and butter are workforce and affordable housing. Our mission is to create a better mousetrap for housing to make up for the lack of affordable housing in our communities. So we’re focused on innovation and bringing housing to market in a more efficient, expedient way. And you’ve recently made the swap to Extreme Panel and have a bit of an understanding between traditional construction and Extreme Panel.”

“Talk me through that. So one of our pilot programs we’re doing right now is we really wanted to test the panelized system against traditional stick building. So we built three houses: two of them were SIP houses, and one was a traditional stick-framed house, all the same floor plan, all the same layout. So it was a really good test of apples-to-apples comparison. What’s the speed to market, what’s the energy efficiency, what’s the cost of construction – all of those things to factor into how do we get scalable infill development in a lot of our communities. So, talk me through the traditional one. Pier and beam construction, it sounds like – where you are with traditional, like 2x floor joists and then 2×4, 2×6 construction. We wanted to create it as close as we could using traditional materials, so our exterior walls are all 2×6 construction, which would be an upgrade from the typical 2×4 construction you would see in our product. And then our roof is 2×12 double-packed insulated batt in there. So we really wanted to build as closely as we could to really test the value of the SIP panel. And what did you find? I’m curious.”

“So initially, right out of the gate, we got a 0.79 ACH50 blower door test on our ZIP panel, and that was without even trying. So that’s just a testament to the seal and how tight and airtight that is. Tight, and the air tightness of that and using a pretty traditional window and door package, I’m assuming, right? It was all off the shelf, so it’s our local hardware store, picking up vinyl-clad windows. So we really didn’t even try to make these really airtight, but we kind of knocked it out of the park. 0.79. That’s amazing. Exactly.”

“And talk to me about some of the metrics in terms of how long it took to build the houses traditionally versus with extreme panel SIPs. Also, I’d love for you, if you’re willing, to give us some comparison on cost. Yeah, absolutely. So the two houses we built, we built them in a week blitz. Perry came down from Minnesota to help lead the charge. We had both of the houses completely done in four days total – two houses in four days. Two houses in four days? How about that? It’s incredible.”

“Was that awesome, Perry? It was awesome. It was so much fun. And the best thing was I had brought two other guys from Minnesota, and one was training himself. So it was really two guys that knew the system. And Nathan Hoekstra from Iowa, we can give him kudos for coming down. And the first thing he does is unloads a semi right on a Sunday, and we have these huge panels, 8 foot by 24. There’s a telephone or a power line above, we have all these constraints. But Nathan just said, ‘Okay, got it,’ and we have a small site. We just started unloading panels, and it worked really well. Within an hour or so, we had probably two hours, three hours, we had two trucks unloaded with two houses there, so everything was on site, ready for us to go, yep.”

“And this is pier and beam construction, which means that even the floor system was from you guys, too, right? Yeah, we made a panel floor. It was an 8-inch thick floor, and they were all 8 by 16-foot panels. So we had an R33 floor deck built over the pier and beams. Literally, within an hour and a half, the first floor was down, and then we started getting ready for walls, and literally, in about three-quarters of a day, the walls were up, and then the next morning, a ridge beam got set, and the roof panels went on.”

“How big were these houses? They’re 31 by 38, 1200 square feet each. Single-story houses as well. Holy cow, that’s fast, man. Dang. Matt, the thing I like about that is most crawl spaces in the South are absolutely disgusting, and there’s huge communication, meaning, you know, traditional, let’s say, 2×8 floor system that most people are framing on pier and beam. All that nasty stuff in the crawl space, the air, the moisture, the crawly things that are down there, they migrate up to the house. And in your system, you’ve got huge R30 plus, would you say it was? Yeah, R33, continuous insulation, in a really tight air seal. Also, no ductwork down there, right? Aren’t your ducts going to be in the attic?”

“All of our ductwork is in the conditioned space, and we have drop ceilings above the bedrooms, and that’s where we run all the ductwork. So those houses are super healthy and super efficient for your homeowners. That’s a really big deal. And to think that this is relatively affordable housing too, yeah. That’s the important thing, you know, the clientele that we serve doesn’t have the resources to fix a lot of problems. So the durability that comes with the SIP panels is just incredible. They’re not going to have to go back and fix things that are falling apart. Or the energy efficiency – we haven’t really even talked about that, but we’re saving hundreds of dollars a month just by having a good, tight shell in an insulated space. So that can be applied to the cost of construction or the mortgage payment, which is building equity into the communities, which is drastically important.”

“So, in other words, if you have, let’s say, a $100 electric bill rather than a $250 electric bill, that $150 savings could be used for better construction, right? Correct. Yeah, and you’re building equity on your purchase. That’s the largest investment people have – their house. So instead of sending money to the power company or sending money back into our house.”

“I love it. Matt, talk to me about the real, where the rubber meets the road, dollars though. What did you find on a dollar comparison? Yeah, so we, again, we built very comparable houses as close as we could to each other. We found that using the SIP panel was about 10% higher total construction cost. Okay. A lot of that is – yeah, the material was more expensive than framing, but my labor rate, my man-hours were 30% of what I would use on a traditional framed house. How about that?”

“So that’s really where you make up the cost savings. So, 10% more, what’s that – like a half-million-dollar build, so it’s 50,000 bucks. What are we talking? What are the real numbers? Yeah, so we’re about $200 per square foot, a little under $200 a square foot in our market. So it was $20 more per square foot, maybe. Let’s say, right? That’s not bad at all. Or, in your case, actually, you’re – we talked about this earlier – your panel system, if you don’t mind me talking about this, it was like $40 to $50 a square foot of framed foot, is that right? Your package was like $45,000, maybe? Something like that for a 1,200 square foot house.”

“If you think about the cost of your spray foam contractor, let’s say all the lumber, all the waste, all the additional labor on traditional framing, plus now you get to use smaller mechanical systems. I’d be willing to bet that even though Matt’s saying this cost 10% more, that if you really did a comparison for the houses that you and I build, especially with bigger houses and more square footage, you know, the more square footage you build, typically the cost per square foot goes down a little bit, I’d bet well, that’s less. I agree with you. I think we have to look at the air barrier too. Remember, when SIPs go in, it’s already air-sealed; that part’s done.”

“But you and I have spent lots of money on products, time, and effort building our houses and labor to air-seal the air seal. So if you factor that in alone, I guess, or you factor the air sealing techniques that you and I are used to using in with the traditional framing that you’re using for your comparison. I mean, that’s a big difference. I think that it’s truly an inverse of what he saw. Instead of a 10% uptick, I think we’d actually see it being cheaper. I’m super glad to use the same techniques. So, Matt, how can people learn more about your project?”

“So we’re on the internet at navigatehousing.com. There will be links all over the pages. Specifically, this project is Goldmeyer Heights, that’s the community we’re working in. We’re a community-based organization operating in the lower-income communities of Birmingham. So all of our information is on the website, and plenty of ways to get in touch with us. That’s awesome. Perry and Josh, you just left a minute ago. Thanks for making the trip down to see us, and will a huge thanks to you for making the trip to Kansas to see the job site.”

“To summarize, if you agree, I would say I’m really impressed. We’ve got to build one of these, man. Absolutely. Yeah, I am very impressed with it overall, and I think getting our hands on one in the future would be really nice. I think that’s going to happen sooner rather than later, guys. Big thanks to Extreme Panel for sponsoring. Of course, you can learn more on their website, extremepanel.com. But here’s what I’d recommend: you know, guys like Perry and Josh, they’re not salespeople, really. They are builder liaisons, for lack of a better term. I mean, this guy’s been with the company for 20 plus years. They totally get your problems, your construction, your concerns, maybe your apprehensions. Call them, you’ve got a set of plans that you’re working on; they could give you a ballpark price. They can help you figure out how to navigate from doing this traditionally into doing your panel system.”

“And as we said earlier, a really big deal that they can help you out with mechanical design. They can help you find a frame carpenter. They really have a solutions-based company; this is not just a panel company. So, huge thanks to these guys for sponsoring. Guys, if you’re not currently a subscriber, hit that subscribe button below. You know, we’ve got really nerdy content every Tuesday and every Friday. Falls on TikTok or Instagram; otherwise, we’ll see you next time on The Build Show. “

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