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Everything about Structural Insulated Panels

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How Much do SIPs Cost

The cost of Structural Insulated Panels depends on the structure, connection, thickness of the panels, insulation type, skins, sizing, electrical chase ways, pre-installed lumber… and much more. Giving a square foot price of, let's say, $3.50 doesn't make any sense. Providing a number like that has no credibility and is never accurate. Not understanding what SIPs cost is the #1 reason people tend to shy away from SIPs. Pricing can be as easy as sending in an architectural plan and having the project price quote - done. (Click and Get a Quote) Our goal is to give you an in-depth look into the great value of SIPs.
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How much do SIP panels cost
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Is There a SIPs Cost Rule of Thumb?

For years, I have heard people say, " a good rule of thumb is SIPs cost between 1% - 2% more." 1%- 2% of what? Is that just for walls or roofs as well? Is that the total construction cost? Does that include land and septic/water???

Taking that rule of thumb: if we were building a $200,000 house, SIPs would cost $2000-$4000 more. Does that sound correct?
Compare Material Costs of SIPs
SIP Panels are engineered systems and usually are sold as kit packages. SIPs have some assembly labor already built in. Standard stick construction systems are purchased as individual parts and have no labor costs built in. Therefore, comparing the material prices of Stick Construction to SIPs Construction is extremely difficult.


Standard Stick Construction
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When analyzing standard stick construction compared to SIPs, it is easy to look at just the lumber package and insulation. When this is done, SIPs look like they cost 20%- 30% more. But this would not be an accurate comparison.
SIPs Construction
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Depending on your Structural Insulated Panels package, remember a SIPs system requires material such as a top and bottom plate, sealant, and additional lumber. Also, remember that included in SIPs is pre-assembled labor cost.
The most often missed comparisons of standard stick construction material costs are sealing/sealants, inside vapor barrier, headers, insulation, electrical staples, ventilation, and wind bracing. What materials are needed to offer a continuous insulated system, and what materials are required to make the stick system structurally as strong as SIPs?
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It is a major OOPS to compare material costs and only consider some other cost elements - labor, sips effect, energy saving, and incentives.
Compare Labor Costs of SIPs
SIP Panels are engineered systems and usually are sold as packages. Therefore, comparing just the labor elements of both construction systems is not an accurate or fair comparison.


Standard Stick Construction
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The labor of building a stick wall is more than just lifting the 2x4s. Therefore, when comparing the labor costs of wall/roof systems, one needs to determine the labor costs for:
- Installing the framing
- Installing the sheathing
- Installing the
continuous insulation
- Installing headers
- Cutting out doors and windows
- Waterproofing & sealing the exterior shell
- Roof vents and soffits vents systems
SIPs Construction
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Structural Insulated Panels have some labor already included in the panels. The included labor can vary depending on the SIPs package (blanks, pre-cut, or Ready-To-Assemble). Understanding your SIPs package is very important to realize the actual labor costs.
A vital labor cost factor in comparing Stick Construction to SIPs construction is a complete understanding of the construction details of each system. There are many factors to calculating the labor of each design and understanding the labor costs of structural components like trusses, beams, headers, or even plates, to name a few items.
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It is a major OOPS not to look at all aspects of labor putting together the structural shell and all the construction details.
Peripheral Elements Effecting Costs of SIPs
Many other elements that affect the cost of SIPs during construction must be identified and considered. Depending on your design, other peripheral components must be considered as well.
Cost Savings using SIPs
Savings ItemDescription Average Reported Savings
Reduce Window & Door HeadersIn many case window and door headers can eliminated if the opening is 48" or less. This reduces frame building time dramatically.$50-$100 per opening
Reduce HVAC SizingSIPs are so energy efficient that heating and cooling units can be reduced in size. The keep the structure tighter allowing less air leakage and less running of equipment.$700 - $900
Duct Work ReductionShorter duct runs can be placed in conditioned spaces can be exploited and this reduces cost of duct material and labor to install.$150-$225
Drywall ElementsThe amount of drywall sheets are reduced and the waste is reduced as SIPs has the advantage of continues nailing on exterior walls. Labor of installing drywall and mud/taping is reduced as there are less joints and less cutting to size. $60-$200
Faster Electrical InstallElectrical installation can be reduces due to pre-cut electrical chase ways that eliminate drilling holes in studs and staples. $300-$400
Dumpster Waste ReductionJob-site waste in the dumpster heading to the landfill is reduced using SIPs. Contractor report saving of a 1/2 to a full dumpster on typical projects.$350-$375
Blower Door TestSome states or programs require post build blower door testing. Blower door testing measures the amount of air leakage in a home and can predict energy loss. Many program consider SIPs construction to be so proven that Blower Door Testing is not necessary or required to get approval. $150-$300
TheftJobsite theft is getting more common across the county. In fact, it is estimated to now be over 1 billion dollars a year. Lose lumber theft is very common. SIPs are big and very hard to steal. Varies
IncentivesThere are many incentives, rebate and even tax credit available nationally and locally to build more efficiently. SIPs can help you qualify for some or all of these programs. Varies
Reduced Build TimeIt has been well documented that SIPs can cut days or even weeks off build times. Construction loans are more expensive than standard mortgages, so the faster it get built, the bigger the cost savings. Varies
VentilationIn most SIPs application, ridge vents and soffits ventilation is not necessary. The is a cost saving of soffit vents, soffit detail reduction, soffit metal change and cutting/installing ridge vent needs to be factored in when using SIPs roof panels.Varies
Total Cost SavingsTotal Cost Saving using the SIPs Effect can vary greatly based on design of structure, geographical area, labor rates and local material costs. Regional incentives can also vary greatly as some areas offer significant rebates. $1500-$4000
SFN Calculation
SFN (square foot number) Calculation is a way to estimate the cost savings of the SIPs Effect. It is not uncommon to use $1.10 - $1.50 per square foot as an estimate.
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It is a major OOPS not to take into consideration all of the SIPs Cost Effect as it may be to difficult- consider using the SFN approach.
Energy Savings Using SIPs
It has been very well documented that using Structural Insulated Panels versus standard stick construction will save money on utilities by up to 60%. How Much? Energy Modeling and mechanical testing, like blower door tests, can be used to determine cost savings.  
Energy Cash Flow Value Study - SIPs
Standard Stick ConstructionSIPs Construction
Base Building Cost$270,000$270,000
SIPs Cost$0$5,400
Labor Saving using SIPs$0($1,800)
SIPs Effect - SNF $1.25/sf$0($2,250)
Total Building Cost$270,000$271,350
Monthly Mortgage Payment$1,094$1,100
Monthly Utility Costs$150$60
Total Monthly Expense$1,244$1,160
Total Monthly Savings$0$84
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Energy Savings Cash Flow Analysis
Payback in just over 1 year
$3,930 Cash Flow Positive in 5 years
Modified SIPA Case Study
1800 Square Foot Home at $150/sq ft
Mortgage 30 yr fixed 4.5% interest 20% down payment
SIPS Cost - 2% over total Cost of Construction
SIPs Labor Savings 30% of framing costs
SNF is $1.25/sq ft of home
Incentives for SIPs
There are numerous incentives to use energy-efficient SIPs. This incentive may include tax credits, rebates, discounts, or other programs offered by utility companies or federal, state, or local governments.


There are numerous incentive for using energy efficient SIPs.
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Federal Program
Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction
Energy-Efficient New Homes Tax Credit for Home Builders
Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit
State and Local Credits
Each State/Local programs vary
Utility Grants and Rebates
Various rebate from Utility Companies
Mortgage Program
Federal - Energy-Efficient Mortgages
Local Option - Energy-Efficiency Improvement Loans
LEED Points
Offers various programs
Energy Star Type Programs
Programs to build more efficient homes and offers various programs
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It is a major OOPS to overlook or not check into the numerous incentive that are available for energy- efficient SIPs.

See what SIP incentives are in your area

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