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Building A SIP Home: What You Need To Know Before You Start

 

Wellington Builders | Design & Architecture Services | Eco-Friendly Design | High Performing Home | Structural Insulated Panels | Energy-Efficient Home

 

Couch against a wall

 

So, you’ve done your homework and have decided that building a SIP home is the right choice for you. Fantastic decision!


These panels offer a range of benefits, including better insulation, long-term energy savings, and improved indoor air quality. But let's face it, the idea of building a new home can be daunting, let alone one made with SIPs if you haven’t built one before.

 

At Green Abode, we understand how overwhelming this can feel. That's why we've put together this blog to provide you with all the information you need before you start your project. We want to highlight the things you need to be mindful of when building this type of home – to help you save time and money and avoid any potential disappointments down the road.

 

So, let's explore the key things you need to know about SIPs and the process of building one, broken down in stages.

 

Let’s go!

 

#1: SIP HOME PRE-BUILD STAGE

It's important to keep in mind that obtaining building consent can be a lengthy process, which can result in cost increases for both materials and labour if there are any delays. It's best to plan accordingly and factor in the potential for extended wait times and possible increased costs.


#2: DESIGN STAGE


Architect

Finding the right architect can be a game-changer for your project. You want to work with someone who understands your style and can design your dream home. They should be willing to listen to your ideas and collaborate with you to create a space that you'll love. Building a home is a big investment, so it's important to find an architect who values your opinion and will do their best to design a house that reflects your needs and desires.


Passive Home Standard       

If your goal is to build a home to Passive House standards, be sure to discuss this with your architect right from the get-go. Attempting to implement Passive House standards once construction has started can be almost impossible to achieve. Green Abode can build your home to extremely high standards that meet some of the Passive House requirements (in terms of air tightness), without going down the route of obtaining Passive House certification.


Materials & Fixtures

It's important to have a clear idea of what you want in your home, such as kitchen cupboards and islands, joinery, cladding, and flooring. It's worth noting that some of these items may take a long time to manufacture and if they are coming from overseas, they could take 3-6 months to arrive. Knowing what you want in advance means you can order these items at the beginning of the project, thereby avoiding delays.

 

Moreover, if you have a clear idea of what you want from the design stage, it will help ensure a smoother building process without any delays. Changing your mind halfway through the building will cause delays and additional costs.

 

Don’t forget to think about the front-of-wall plumbing fixtures like toilets, vanities, and cabinets. Some items cannot be attached to SIP walls, so it's best to clarify this during the design stage, before ordering them and suddenly realizing that they cannot be installed in a SIP home.


Lighting

Another thing to consider during the design stage is lighting – where, how many, etc. An architect experienced with SIPs can provide valuable guidance on this because again, installing lighting in a SIP home can be quite different to a standard timber-framed home.

 

Ventilation system

Some ventilation models can be noisy, so if you're sensitive to sound, you don't want to put the main unit close to any bedrooms. The best placement for the ventilation unit is something to chat with your architect about.

           

#3: QUOTING STAGE


Costs

It's important to keep in mind that the cost of materials and labour tends to increase over time. So, if there is a significant delay between the design stage and the beginning of construction, this can add quite a large cost to your budget. For instance, the materials specified and priced for the house during the design stage will likely have increased by the time you start the project. Therefore, we recommend asking your main contractor for a second estimate or quote before commencing the project - or at least ensuring you have a large buffer to account for these increases.


Project Management

Green Abode highly recommends letting the main contractor select and manage all sub-contractors on site and avoid getting involved unless you really must. This will minimize miscommunication and delays.


Quote

Ensure you read the quote carefully and understand what's included and what's not. Don't forget to ask questions about things like driveways and extra things like decks, fencing and closets, because they could cost you more money if they're not already included.


#4: BUILDING STAGE


External Factors

This is a very exciting time as you'll finally witness the physical manifestation of your plans! However, we'd like to remind you that there are certain external factors, such as weather conditions, that can sometimes delay the construction process.


Unfortunately, these factors are beyond your and the main contractor's control, so it's important to be prepared for any potential delays that may arise.


Project Timelines

It's important to note that project timelines are meant to provide a general idea of what to expect and when, but they are not set in stone. Various circumstances can cause changes in the timeline and order of tasks, resulting in deviations from the initial plan. Flexibility is key!


Variations

If you decide to make any changes or add anything at this point, it will cost you extra and might cause delays. It will be recorded as a "variation to quote."


Power

Green Abode recommends selecting your power and internet provider companies in advance so that these can be facilitated by the electrician when he/she comes on-site.


#5: COMPLETION


Once your main contractor has completed their work as per the contract and it has been signed by the Council inspector, you will need to sign the Practical Completion paperwork. However, if any incomplete items have failed the final inspection, and were not included in the contract or were the responsibility of independent sub-contractors, you will still need to sign off on Practical Completion with your main contractor since these issues are not their responsibility.

 



These tips are things we’ve learned in our journey of building SIP homes, and we wanted to share them with you so that you can start your project armed with as much information as possible to be able to get started on the front foot!

 

Green Abode can help you with your SIP home project from design, all the way through to completion. Why not reach out and let us take the “difficult” out of the process for you? Email: kevin@greenabode.co.nz

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