10 Pros and Cons of SIPs in Self Build Homes

One major question that will come up on your self build journey is – what construction method should I opt for?

When considering different construction methods, it’s important to have some key considerations in mind in order to find the best method to suit your self build project. For example, ask yourself “What is my overall budget?”, “Is the area I’m looking to build in easy to access?”, “How important is energy efficiency to me?”. Asking these kinds of questions will help you on your way to determining which construction option is most suitable.

There are several different popular options that people tend to opt for when self building:

In this article, we are going to focus on SIPs.

sip self build barn

What are SIPs in Self Building?

SIPs stands for Structural Insulated Panels and they are a modern construction method consisting of sandwiching a rigid foam core between sheets of OSB (oriented strand board) or some other structural facing.

The design of SIPs allows for builders and contractors to easily slot the panels together to create the building structure, and it is most commonly used for both residential and commercial construction sectors. SIPs can be used not only for walls but also roofs, floors and even exterior cladding.

When deciding on whether to choose SIPs to build your own home, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of this modern construction method to work out if it is going to be the best and most suitable option for your self build. We’ve laid out some of the core pros and cons in this article.

Pros of SIPs for Self Build Homes

1. Energy Efficient

For self builders looking to create an energy-efficient home, SIPs are an ideal choice, as they can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions when compared to their timber frame or masonry counterparts.

This energy efficiency is achieved through the great thermal insulating properties of the materials used in SIPs construction. The rigid foam core is designed to keep homes warm in the colder months while the MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) keeps air circulating throughout the property without losing heat. This means that in the colder months, your self build home will be easier to heat and maintain warmth indoors.

In addition, SIPs are designed to slot together to be airtight, which also poses less risk of draughts and higher levels of insulation.

sip self build roof construction

2. Quick & Efficient Installation

Due to the “slot together” design of the SIP panels, this makes the building construction process a lot quicker and more straightforward when compared to other traditional construction methods. This is beneficial for self builders and it means less time is required onsite, which can save money and man hours.

There is also less waste and less risk of construction errors, due to the panels being prefabricated. SIPs are constructed offsite before the build starts, meaning that compared to other construction methods, you don’t need to worry about the time spent preparing materials or waiting on site deliveries quite as much.

This makes the whole building part of the process more straightforward, which can be a weight off your mind when it comes to planning a full self build construction project.

3. Eco Friendly

SIPs are very eco friendly, so offer a good environmentally conscious option for your self build home. As already mentioned, they require less construction time and offer high energy efficiency, all of which lead to a lesser consumption of gas and electricity.

In addition to this, the materials themselves that are used in SIPs construction are more eco friendly. While some timber elements are still needed for SIPs construction, this is far less when compared to general timber frame house construction. Furthermore, the exterior OSB is fabricated using material extracted from fast growing trees. As these trees grow back quickly, the impact of cutting them down is minimal. If this is a key consideration for your self build home, SIPs are a great option.

SIP self build project barn

4. Strong Structural Integrity

The strength of SIPs once assembled can be up to 7 times stronger than timber frame houses, making them an extremely sturdy self build option. This means that they are very capable of withstanding extreme or harsh weather conditions.

If you are looking to self build in an area that is particularly windy, such as an area facing the sea, SIPs can be a great option.

5. Added Value for Future Buyers

In general, when reselling SIP properties, many homeowners find these go for a higher sale price. This is due to the environmental benefits of SIP homes as well as lower running costs required for services like heating.

If the overall value of your self build is a core consideration, SIPs can be a great option.

6. Flexibility & Creative Design

SIPs are an exciting option for architects and designers as they allow a wealth of options for creative spaces. If you are looking to create a self build home with open plan vaulted ceilings or light airy spaces, SIPs are a good option. This construction method allows for a combination of materials such as brick, glass and wood, meaning you can add layers of style and uniqueness to your home.

Compared to other construction methods, SIPs are less restrictive and therefore, if you are looking for a luxury and bespoke space, SIP self builds make a fantastic choice.

luxury sip self build home

Cons of SIP for Self Build Homes

7. Upfront Cost of SIPs for Self Builds

Your self build house cost is going to be a key consideration, and it is worth knowing that SIPs can be more expensive when compared to timber frame or brick and block methods. On average, SIP self build homes can cost around £1,377 per square metre, compared to timber frame at around £1,205 per square metre and masonry construction coming in at around £1,246 per square metre. You can find out more about costs in our self build costs article.

However, it is worth noting that the higher energy-efficiency and insulation that comes with SIPs can also help you save money in the long run, so it is very much dependent on what your financial priorities are at the time of self building.

8. Flexibility & Modifications

Due to the nature in which SIPs are manufactured, any modifications or extensions for self build homes can be more tricky. This is because the panels are precision engineered to fit with the exact requirements of the planned self build. More consideration is needed up front compared to other construction methods.

Therefore, if you are considering making large-scale changes to the home in the future, it’s worth taking into account that modifications to SIPs can be more challenging, as it can be with many other comparable construction methods. It’s also worth bearing this in mind when you initially build the property, as changing your mind later down the line could be costly.

sips self build home installation

9. Relatively New Construction Method

Though SIPs are arguably more straightforward to install, they are a relatively new construction method which means that installers experience and knowledge of this construction material is lesser when compared to other well established methods.

Sound knowledge of the installation of SIP is important, because if SIPs are not installed properly, water ingress and moisture problems can occur which can be problematic and expensive to recover.

10. Ventilation Considerations

The airtight nature of SIPs are fantastic when it comes to insulation, however this means that sometimes ventilation can be compromised. Depending on the construction itself, ventilation may be a problem in some SIP homes as this can cause air quality problems, condensation build up and increased humidity.

It’s always best to speak to an expert to understand how ventilation concerns can be addressed as part of your self build home. For example, some experts recommend using a mechanical ventilation system. However, this is again another cost consideration.

SIP self build bungalow

Building Self Build Homes with SIPs Panels in the UK

SIPs are becoming increasingly more popular in the UK with more self builders opting for SIPs as their chosen construction method every year. While they offer many great benefits that are perfect for some self build projects, they won’t be the right fit for others.

If you are looking for tailored advice on your self build home and which construction method is most suited to your project, the team at incollective can help. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in self build architecture and the self build market, and can help you make an informed decision on your self build construction method, whether you are looking at SIPs or any other method.

Ecologic SIPs

We are partnered with Ecologic SIPs who manufacture sustainable SIP panels for all sorts of construction projects, including self build homes. Along with incollective, they will work closely with you to find the most eco-friendly, resourceful, and energy-efficient solution for your self build home, while looking to minimise their impact on the planet. If you are interested in a SIP self build, reach out to us on 023 8244 3801 or head over to our contact page.

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