Six Top Tips for a Successful SIPs Self-build Project

Published 6th November 2019

Do your Product Research

So you’ve already decided that you want to build your new home with Structural Insulated Panels or SIPs, however, it’s important to remember that not all SIPs systems are the same. With a host of systems available on the market, make sure you understand the composition of SIPs and the benefits the different options provide, such as thermal qualities, the jointing system - which is key to creating an airtight envelope - certifications and fire performance, strength and stability. Consider a recognised brand such as the Kingspan TEK™ Building System for all round quality.

Find a Credible Supplier

Just like the different types of SIPs building systems available, there are many SIPs suppliers offering varying levels of service and product. Your supplier should be able to demonstrate an unrivalled knowledge of the product they are supplying, offer a comprehensive package of design, supply and installation by a team of BBA certified fitters and be members of The Structural Timber Association (STA). Ensure they are transparent in their costings and capabilities.

In addition to being members of the STA and having our own teams of BBA certified fitters, SIPS@Clays is also a Kingspan TEK™ Delivery Partner.

Arrange a Factory Visit

After you’ve made your short list of suppliers as above, make a request to visit their factory and meet the team. You will quickly get a feel of the organisation and see how your new home will be designed and fabricated. Also ask to see examples of their previous work and speak to past clients about their experience with the company.

Take a look at some of our case studies for some inspiration and let us know if you'd like to speak to one of our clients.

Design Consideration

Be ambitious! The flexibility of SIPs means that there are no limitations on SIPs design. Contrary to belief, SIPs homes don’t need to be boxy and boring so as long as you, your architect or SIPs designer has vision, anything is possible. Consider adding value to your project with a ‘room in the roof’ or maybe leave the roof space open to the eaves, doubling the room height for example? Unlike many SIPs suppliers we have our own in-house design team who will ensure that any design is easily translated into a SIPs friendly, interactive 3D design, we add value engineering and efficiency solutions to all of our projects.

Engage with Your SIPs Supplier for Some Upfront Thinking

You’ve decided on your SIPs building system, you’re signing off the designs and you and your architect are completing the drawings. It is important at this stage to work with your SIPs supplier for some ‘upfront thinking’. This will ensure that window openings and doors are suitably positioned; MVHR duct location is identified to enable correct alignment of floor joists and any other technical intricacies are identified at the outset in order to ensure value engineering and precise fabrication. It’s a lot of work upfront but could save time, hassle and possibly additional cost at the back end of your project.

Weigh Up the Long-Term Benefits of SIPs Vs Cost

When you’re self building, it’s more often than not all about the budget however, it’s easy to lose sight of the many long term benefits that a SIPs build brings when you’re focusing on the pound signs. Look at the speed of construction and short build programme of a SIPs project; reduced on-site labour and plant costs; the additional floor space i.e. a habitable roof space, and that increased value that offers; consider the lifetime cost savings that a thermally efficient SIPs home brings and most of all take comfort from living in a sustainable home that you’ve built yourself.

Building your own home can be a pretty daunting prospect but the simplicity and flexibility of SIPs should ease the way. So with a bit of sound advice and some upfront thinking, your self-build experience should be a good one.

So if you have plans and would like to speak to one of the SIPS@Clays team about them, email us on sips@clays.com.