Since buildings consume 80% of our energy, it makes sense that we want to try to reduce the energy required to heat and cool..
"Hey, boss, we just received a call from the framing sub. He won't be able to provide us with a crew for at least another three or four weeks."
"Frustrating. Did we lock them in? Will they be able to hold their schedule? We’ll need to adjust and push back our timelines for all our other subs too.”
This conversation is a common scenario in the life of General Contractors. Traditional construction scheduling methods are reliant on a series of interdependent tasks. Any snag in one phase can trigger a cascade of setbacks, causing a domino effect of delays in the project's completion. Time is money in the construction industry, and significant delays can have a drastic effect on a project’s finances.
So, how can builders and contractors work to ensure smooth sailing when it comes to scheduling construction projects? Keep reading to learn more.
Avoid Construction Scheduling Hassles With SIPs
One powerful way to avoid construction project scheduling blunders is to take a systems approach to building envelopes.
This entails using building materials that accomplish multiple tasks with one product, reducing the number of necessary installation steps, time needed, and skilled labor required (also helping reduce human error of mis-measuring/cutting). All of this can contribute in a big way to profitability.
To achieve this, many contractors have turned to using structural insulated panels (SIPs) instead of traditional materials like stick framing and concrete masonry units (CMUs) to construct commercial, institutional, and residential buildings.
SIPs are a factory-fabricated panel that consist of a solid engineered insulation core that is structurally laminated between two high-grade structural facings. In one product, a SIP provides three essential functions that are crucial to any building:
- Structure: The structural integrity of a building is highly dependent on the quality of the materials used in construction. SIPs are strong, sturdy, and durable, making them ideal for providing the building's structure. They are capable of supporting heavy loads and are resistant to damage from natural disasters and environmental factors like earthquakes, hurricane-force winds, heavy coastal rain, and wildfire.
- Insulation: Insulation is critical to a building's overall energy efficiency, which translates to lower utility bills for the building owner. The insulating foam core in SIPs has excellent insulating properties, providing an efficient thermal barrier that reduces heat transfer through the walls (known as thermal bridging and convection where heat rises and falls). This reduces the need for additional insulation, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
- Air barrier: Large continuous solid core SIPs have very few joints and act as an air barrier, sealing the building envelope tightly to prevent air leaks. This is important because air leaks can significantly impact the building's energy efficiency, causing heat loss or gain, depending on the season. Air leaks can also lead to moisture problems, which directly affect indoor environments and air quality. If not managed properly — such as in traditional site-framed structures with many joints and gaps — moisture problems can lead to mold growth, rot, and other structural issues.
Overall, the use of SIPs in construction can significantly simplify the building process, resulting in a more efficient and time-saving construction timeline. With SIPs, one installation crew can accomplish the work that typically requires multiple crews and work schedules for three vital functions — structure, insulation, and air barrier.
This streamlined approach can save considerable time in the construction process, ranging from days to weeks or even months, depending on the size of the project.
By eliminating the need for multiple crews and scheduling conflicts, the installation of SIPs can ensure a more efficient and effective building process. This not only saves time but can also result in cost savings, as there is less need for coordination and management of different work crews.
Other Ways SIPs Simplify Construction
Here are some of the ways in which SIPs streamline the construction process:
- Offsite construction is a shift that labor shortages are pushing many contractors to. Premier SIPS are one of the more prevalent offsite system construction methods where prefabricated panels (where panels are optimized and produced per floor plan) arrive ready to assemble on the job site. Much of the framing, measuring, and cutting work has been done offsite, with precision, in a factory setting.
- The prefabricated window and door openings in structural insulated panel building envelopes negate the necessity of intricate framing and header installation. This makes installation faster and more efficient, as the panels come pre-cut to the exact size required for windows and doors.
- Premier SIPS engineered flat panels eliminate challenges of bowed lumber and make it easier for drywall, cabinetry, door, window, and millwork installers to complete their work quickly and with a superior-quality finish. Unlike traditional framing methods, there are no awkward angles or gaps to work around, and the need for using shims is all but eliminated in finish work. This results in a more streamlined, higher quality and aesthetically pleasing finish.
- The structural grade-oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing of structural insulated panels helps to make the installation of cabinetry and other hanging elements easier. It provides a consistent surface to attach to, eliminating the need to locate studs. This saves even more time and reduces the risk of damaging the walls during installation.
- SIPs are designed with pre-cut pathways for electrical wiring, known as electrical chases. These factory-installed chases eliminate the requirement to drill holes in the stick-framed studs through the entire envelope. This simplifies the electrical installation process, as electricians are able to fish and pull wire through pre-drilled electrical chases, reducing installation time and minimizing the risk of mistakes.
These advantages, coupled with the exceptional thermal performance of SIPs, make them an ideal choice for builders looking to construct energy-efficient and durable buildings.
Case Studies: Las Vegas Contractors Significantly Reduced Project Time
The Sarann Knight Apartments in Las Vegas experienced a significant improvement in their construction timeline thanks to the use of SIPs. Within only 80 days, the contractors were able to install approximately 100,000 square feet of SIP walls, allowing them to dry in the 82-unit complex's four floors much faster than a typical stick-built apartment.
This is just one of many examples of how SIPs have been utilized throughout North America to speed up construction projects.
Sharon Bullock of the Community Development Programs Center of Nevada (CDPCN) states that the installation process for SIP walls is much more efficient than stick framing as it does not require individual framing and insulation on-site and can be completed in large sections.
Additionally, the finished walls are straighter, which saves time on other finishing work like drywall installation and painting.
Another example of the benefits of SIPs can be seen at the Jacob E. Manch Elementary School. Contractors reduced the framing schedule from 17 weeks to just 7 weeks by using SIPs instead of CMUs, resulting in a 60% time savings.
The panels also reduced labor time for electrical work because they have built-in electrical chases, eliminating the need for electricians to drill or modify framing. The general contractor was amazed at how quickly the panels installed, saying he had never seen such a significant schedule reduction.
Learn More About SIPs
For contractors who are new to using SIPs, they arrive at the job site pre-cut and labeled, ready for installation according to the building plans. This saves time and makes the construction process more efficient.
SIPs are compatible with nearly any type of building system and can be easily integrated with stick framing or wood I-joist floor systems. They can also be used for roofs or added with conventional roof trusses on top of SIP walls.
Crews fasten SIPs together with nails, screws, or staples using standard power tools, and cutting is typically not necessary due to their pre-sizing. However, large panels may require equipment to unload and place.
Where additional support is required, contractors can install additional splines at in-plane panel connections. SIPs are also structurally self-sufficient in most applications and can be used as curtain walls over steel or timber frames. Installation videos of the thousands of structural insulated panel systems are a great way to see how easily SIPS install.
Want to learn more? Contact the local Premier SIPS expert in a region near you!
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As the oldest manufacturer in the SIPs industry, Premier’s SIP system is the proven prefabricated building envelope framing system for your next commercial or residential structure. Faster, stronger, and greener than outdated lumber framing methods, SIPs are the future of framing. Join the other thousands of structures built with SIPs, and contact the expert in your local region to get started.