Saturday, October 20, 2007

More SIPs cheering and info on proper installation and flashing of windows

We just came back from a very informative and intelligently put together SIP class at EH Systems. They are a SIP manufacturer that we are definitely considering to buy our panels from, as they offer great customer service, are within a 100 mile radius of Austin (so I can knock on their door if I need to), and hopefully will have prices that are reasonable.

If you're STILL not convinced that SIPs aren't the best way to go, please research and read up on the SIPA website and Oak Ridge Laboratories (government agency). There are tons of articles and technical information for you skeptics, proving its energy efficiency, structural integrity, superiority and payoffs. Yes, they cost a little bit more to build than conventional stick framing, but you can get your money back after 4-5 years of energy savings on your electric bill!!! As I've said many times before, green building costs more upfront, but the money comes back to you in several ways. You are putting your money in your house rather than utility company's pockets, you are saving on electric bills and you are more comfortable in your house, period. Just read about my raves on the Owner Builder Book's forums, you'll see I'm quite the SIP activist :-).

Anyway, the class was free and we got a free hot (and delicious!) lunch and a tour of their plant where they build the SIP walls and roofs. Here's a pic of Jan (who is 6'1" but looks short here!) at the SIP plant with all the panels stacked.

I learned a lot about SIPs, and how they are put together and framed. As a mechanically challenged female, it seemed pretty easy! It sort of goes in like LEGOs. I guess all that practice putting together IKEA furniture paid off in some way. :-).

One of the most useful tips we learned today is about properly installing and flashing windows using ProtectoWrap and Tyvek wrap. This method can be used on any wall system, but is the way that windows SHOULD be installed to allow proper water sealing and drainage. This is especially important on SIP panels because you will not be able to know about water damage as easily, and rot can still happen under your masonry if things get wet and aren't channeled for water drainage.

I have a few pictures of how it was done, but the step by step manual can be downloaded from here:

See "Dupont Flashing Systems Installation Guide" and go to pages 4-8.
http://www2.dupont.com/Residential_Construction/en_US/knowledgeCenter/
or download here from my site.

It's not easy to find this information yourself as a homeowner or owner builder, so we appreciated getting information like this at the SIP class. The guy doing the window demo said you might get resistance from the window installer (usually your framer subcontractor), but MAKE SURE YOU DO IT THIS WAY because this is the official and best way to install and seal your windows. You don't want to get rot and it's very expensive to fix these problems at a later point !

Here are a few pictures if you need to see more than the diagrams in the installation guide.

First, you should do an upside down martini glass cut on the Tyvek wrap where the window opening is, NOT THE TYPICAL "X" FORMATION, and fold the Tyvek around the window opening and secure with nails.



The guys are using Protecto wrap at the bottom of window opening to create a sort of "shower pan" sealing of the bottom, then the window is placed in the hole.


Once the window is set in, you put Protecto Wrap on the the other sides on top of the window edges and Protecto Wrap on bottom of the window so that it is completely sealed from moisture. The Tyvek you see left at the top sticking out is to allow for the run off to go outside the ProtectoWrap.



This entire demo took about 15 minutes to put in one window this way. So, you can safely calculate this number x number of windows for time estimatation purposes.

By the way, we are of course going to be getting low e, argon filled dual pane windows which are very energy efficient. Right now, we are deciding to get fiberglass windows and aluminum windows for a few awning type windows. We haven't decided yet.

Yeah, it was great to learn some new things. Also, I met some great new contacts, and that's always a plus!

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