29 Nov 2006

Spluttering SIPS: Chapter 2

Structural Insulated Panels or SIPS: quick to build, fantastic performance, building system of the future. Or so we hope. But so far the UK experience of SIPS has been checkered, and that is being very polite. There are some very successful SIPS developments, for sure: I visited one in September where everything had gone splendidly. But a good number have run into problems.

Here is an affordable housing scheme currently underway in Bugle in Cornwall. The builders have thoughtfully placed a webcam there so we can monitor progress. Not that there has been a lot. This image was taken off the webcam today (29 November). These 23 apartments have been going up since March and the roof still isn’t on. And the OSB is only just being covered up now. OSB isn’t designed to be left outside to withstand the elements: with SIPS, OSB is an integral part of the structure. Apparently there have been a lot of wranglings going on behind the scenes with building control and warranty providers. It doesn’t look pretty, does it?

My advice remains the same. I don’t want to put people off SIPS but if you do want to go down this route don’t try and do it on the cheap and make sure that your design and erection team know exactly what they are doing. Check their track record and speak to previous clients.

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