IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONSTRUCT A WELL-BUILT, ENERGY EFFICIENT HOME IN MINNESOTA? THE ANSWER IS A RESOUNDING YES!
We constructed a high performance cabin in the Root River Valley of Southeastern MN. The cabin was constructed using a revolutionary building material called SIPS, structural insulated panels (SIPS). It is not only cozy & comfortable, but it is energy efficient! SIPs also pass NEW 2017 building codes which require better insulation and tighter homes.
SIPs consist of EPS (extruded polystyrene) sandwiched between two pieces of oriented strand board. SIPs are pre- manufactured and can be fabricated to fit nearly any building design. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient and cost effective. We have more information in our High Performance Homes Article.
HOW WERE THEY USED IN THIS CABIN?
SIPs were used everywhere – from the foundation to the roof and everything in between. Here’s a quick look:
Most contractors, especially in northern climates like Minnesota, install a concrete foundation extending below the frost line to protect against seasonal freezing and thawing. This cabin uses SIPs and EPS t o create a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation, which is widely used in Canada and the Scandinavian countries of Northern Europe.
What’s different? This foundation is installed only 12 to 16 inches below finished grade vs. 48 to 60 inches, and uses heat from the earth and building t o maintain sub-slab soil temperatures well above freezing. It eliminates the need for concrete or excavation below the frost line, saving money and time.
A SIP floor system is ideal for anyone who wishes to have a solid, quiet and warm floor system. The floor serves as the structural framing, insulation, and air barrier, all combined into one product.
What’s different? The SIP floor will not wick moisture like concrete and reflects heat within the cabin back to the interior rather than pulling it away, resulting in a comfortable and cozy cabin.
SIP walls are placed directly on top of the foundation and go together like Legos. Talk about quick construction – these walls were up in one day!
What’s different? Pre-manufactured panels means quick construction and little-to-no waste onsite. Because there are no studs in a SIP w all, there is continuous insulation (no thermal bridging) resulting in consistent temperatures – no hot or c old spots. Electrical chases throughout the structure create an easy path for wiring. 6” wall = R24
Conventional pre-built roof trusses make it difficult to insulate the space where the side walls and the roof of the home intersect. SIP roofs have few areas for air penetration and are comprised of large panel sizes, which speeds up assembly and offers high insulation values.
What’s different? SIPs are an easy way to create a vaulted ceiling. Your structure and insulation are completed in one step – the space inside is ready for sheetrock; the roof is ready for shingles. 10” Roof = R40
FINAL RESULT: This cabin is now fully completed and the owners have seen significant cost savings in their heating and cooling bills. In general, homeowners find these results when using SIPs:
- Up to 60% savings on utility bills
- Time and construction labor cost savings: up to 41% on labor & 55% on time
- Improved indoor air quality: SIPs homes have better indoor air quality reducing asthma symptoms and other respiratory illnesses
You can read more in our High Performance Homes Article.
Even on the windiest days the interior is quiet and calm. It ’s comforting to watch
the trees swaying in the wind without hearing the windows and walls rattle.
The SIP floor allows us to comfortably walk in stockings in the middle of winter.
No need for expensive heated floors.
When we first arrive at the cabin, the SIP panels allow the space to heat up
very quickly once the heat is turned on. Then, because of the panels, we are able
to easily maintain the temperature and even back down a bit on the thermostats.
We look forward to a cool place to spend the summer months due t o the
exceptional insulating qualities of SIPs!
I have every confidence that when storms may rage our SIP panel cabin
will keep us safe and secure due to their strength!
~ Tom & Lynda Brandt, Cabin owners