Making a wise decision
Although the concept of panel homes is nothing new, for the new homeowner it can be an exercise in construction faith to veer away from what is perceived as "the normal" stick-building or frame construction. The decision to use these building panels is always a smart one, but now the question remains: "Which type is the right choice?"
Let's take a look at the options and then the ball will be in your court.
Common panel factors
The typical panel home is manufactured in a factory and is made to order based on the design specs of the house plans. No matter what type of panel is chosen, there is always a great savings in labor on the job site. The other deciding factors in wall panels should be the insulation capacity, the wall thickness and insulation type.
Characteristics of the open panel
One type of wall panel that is still in use is what I call the open panel. This wall panel system consists of the standard studs at 16" or 24" on center and has the plywood or OSB sheeting on the outside. All the window and door openings are precut in the factory with the proper headers across the top. The inside of the wall panel is open which allows the placement of insulation in the wall after it has been placed on the floor system. The contractor or the homeowner can then put the typical cellulose or fiberglass insulation in the walls and put drywall on like a standard frame house.
My favorite panel style
The next type of wall panel being used is the SIP panel. This is simply a wall panel that consists of a layer of OSB or plywood on each side of a rigid foam core. Depending on the manufacturer, rigid foam core wall panels will vary in thickness from 4 inches to 6 1/2 inches. The thickness usually depends on the type of foam that is used and the R-value that is required.
For instance, it will take a full 6 1/2" SIP panel with EPS foam core to meet the same R-value as a thinner 4” SIP panel with polyurethane foam. Depending on the manufacturer the SIP panel is available in solid sheets of 4' x 8' or as a custom cut package with all your windows and doors cut in by the factory.
A panel of a different kind
The third type of wall panel used in panel homes consists of not OSB or plywood on each side of the rigid foam core but a piece of metal on each side. This type is mostly used in the South in hurricane regions because stronger tie-down systems can be used. Unless needed for the previous reason, as a designer, I would recommend shying away from using the metal SIP panels on a residence simply because any type of finish on the exterior or interior will need to be screwed to the metal SIP wall.
I do not doubt their structural integrity or their ease of use, but they are probably better suited for commercial applications. Though I've not worked with this type, a google search revealed they are available with custom window and door openings already cut in as part of the package as well.
The reasons for my personal recommendation
Those are all of the basic, most widely used options available. I strongly recommend using the SIP panels with a rigid foam core and OSB or plywood on both sides. I also urge you to use polyurethane foam for your insulation in your panel home. It offers the highest insulation value per inch in thickness and also the highest burn resistance of any foam being used in panel homes.
But don't just take my word for it (as flattering as that would be if you did)! In the following video you'll discover the experience of one couple's journey when they boldly opted for energy-efficient house plans and building their new home the easy way...
But it doesn't end there. These are not merely "one-hit wonders." We're happy to share with you even more:
"When I first heard about Structural Insulated Panels from Larry's Home Designs, it did not take me long to decide this was the way to go for my new home. The construction phase was extremely quick. Part of the crew was putting windows and doors in the walls while the rest of the crew was doing roofing…only partway through the 3rd day! I am very pleased with the efficiency of the 4” panels. My only thought on those extremely cold northern NY winter nights is the 6” panels might have been even more efficient. I would recommend these panels to anyone."
More information available
Click below to find out a lot more information about the panels that Larry's Home Designs offers and how we can set you on the right path to saving a ton of money on your panel home. There are only a few building materials that I will personally endorse - and this is one exception.
As always, the decision is ultimately the homeowner's choice. However, when you see the benefits of what these panels actually do for you, I believe you'll understand why they excite me so much! Click here to Contact Us for more information about SIPs Panel Homes.
"We sent a layout to Larry with lots of modifications on it in writing. To our surprise, he designed our blueprints to exactly what we were wanting without any questions. He did a very wonderful job and it was also great how he listed each load that would be needed in sequence. We were very impressed with his work and at a very reasonable price. We would recommend him to anyone."
- Carrie Albright,
S. Bloomingville, OH
Believe me, Larry & his ability to design structures, is a 'jewel in the rough.' I was referred to him as an experienced log home designer & I had either a log (or log slab) home in mind. I contacted Larry, & in no time, had plans & the specifications. This was to the last nail & piece of siding.
Larry's work is reasonably priced & excellent quality. He knows builders & suppliers who can have you in 'front of the fireplace' in no time.
- James E. Vaughan,
You are truly a "wonder worker". I called the township today to see if they had any news on our plans we gave them and the guy said he would have everything ready for me to pick up the permit next Wed. WOW!!!!! I have never heard of or seen anything go through so quickly - you have the talent, Larry.
I am so glad that we may be able to get this project underway before the real cold weather sets in and the builder can maybe be working on the interior by that time and maybe Mom can be here early spring. She turns 80 in April and we would love to have an 80th Birthday party and housewarming all in one for her and all her friends. We will see how the Lord leads. He is working quickly in all of this and I am amazed and what He has done through you and the builder. Thank you so much. I will be taking pictures and keeping you updated on all of it. We do promote you any opportunity that we get. You are GREAT!
Ron and Marcy Shingle
PS - the check (really) is in the mail!
…your website and found it to be very entertaining. It was geared to getting the "Larry's Homes novice" to do what I had pretty much already decided on from the great phone conversation we had, which is trust your expertise in your industry.
-Alan Leeth, Virginia
"In my line of work I build both log and conventional homes. It can be difficult to find someone who can draw prints for both styles. I received a flyer in advertising Larry's Home Design. I was planning to build a house for myself and decided to try Larry's that way I could guage whether I would use him for my clients. I was very impressed and since then Larry's Home Design draws prints for all our customers."
- Marvin Fisher
New Holland PA