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Taking Modular Homes to a Higher Level
Consumers Seek Healthy Homes with Resale Value
If you are looking for a good quality, super-insulated and super-strong house, a modular home using structural insulated panels, or SIPs, may be the right choice.
SIP homes offer two very important benefits. First, they are two to three times better insulated than traditionally built modular homes because the walls are made of solid foam sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board (or OSB), which makes it airtight. Second, the SIP wall system is three to five times stronger than a traditional modular home’s wall system due to its design.
History of Structural Insulated Panels
Homes constructed of structural insulated panels are only about 10 years old. In 2000, the first all-energy-efficient foam SIP-manufactured home was built by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in partnership with Champion Enterprises, Precision Panel Structures, Premier Building Systems, and other partners. It was constructed to lower heating and cooling costs up to 50 percent compared to a manufactured home built to the minimum housing code.
When construction was completed in the manufactured housing factory, the structural insulted boxes were put on trailers and underwent a 300-mile trip to where they were to be set. This “road test” turned out to be a great indicator of the house’s structural performance. Unlike a traditionally framed modular home, there were very few cracks in the gypsum board finish materials used on the walls and ceiling, meaning less patch work and less money to pay a contractor.
The University of Virginia’s School of Architecture is just one institution that is looking at alternatives to traditional stick-built houses. It offers a research and design/build/evaluation project called the ecoMOD, which has been creating ecological, modular, and affordable house prototypes since 2004.
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