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FAQs

What locations do Climate House Build in?

Climate House has a presence throughout the Wakatipu Basin.  

How much faster can I build with SIPs?

SIP homes go up much faster than traditionally framed buildings.  A third party US study found the superstructure goes up 55 % quicker than a traditional timber framed construction.  

 Entire wall and roof sections can be put up quickly, with the complete smart building system, you can build a weather-tight, super-insulated floor, wall & roof building shell within a matter of days.  Smart Panels are ready to install when they arrive at the jobsite, eliminating the time needed to perform the individual operations of framing, insulating and sheathing stick-framed walls.

 

What are the Standard Smart Panel sizes?

Smart Panels are manufactured in the following sizes:

  • Standard Smart Wall panel sheet sizes: 1205mm wide x 2.4m, 2.7m, 3m high.

  • Standard Roof & Floor panel sheet sizes 1205mm wide x 2.4m, 2.7m, 3m, 3.6m long.

  • All Smart Panels have the option of OSB or PLY as the internal face.

Smart panels are custom built to your individual design - these dimensions will not restrict your layout in any way.  

 

Is a SIPs build more expensive?

Due to the labour savings that can be achieved in faster construction of the building shell; Smart panels work out at cost parity to 140mm framing but with significantly higher thermal performance and comfort levels.  The finished building requires a lot less heating so ongoing running costs are significantly reduced.

 

How green are SIPs?

Structural insulated panels are one of the most environmentally responsible building systems available. A SIP building envelope provides :

  • continuous insulation

  • is extremely airtight,

  • allows for better control over indoor air quality

  • reduces construction waste, and helps save natural resources.

Life cycle analysis has shown that SIP homes have a tremendous positive environmental impact by reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the home’s life cycle.   

There is no formaldehyde in PUR foam insulation and when cured it becomes chemically inert &  will not outgas any harmful chemicals.  The OSB/ Plywood exteriors both have E0 ratings for formaldehyde.  Polyurethane foam insulation, due to its non sagging, water-phobic and adhesive qualities it will perform at to optimal levels for the foreseeable life of the building.  Our Smart panels are guaranteed for 50 years and over the lifespan of the product there is no reduction  in the R-value performance of the panel

 

How strong are SIPs?

The structural characteristics of SIPs are similar to that of a steel I-beam. The OSB skins act as the flange of the I-beam, while the rigid foam core provides the web. This design gives SIPs an advantage when handling in-plane compressive loads.

Smart Panels manufactured in our Comwell factory are custom run for every client job.  This means we can accommodate any specific engineering  requirements relating to the build into a production run.  Structural timber and detailing is incorporated into the panel production.  By comparison Formance or Kingspan panels are prefabricated in standard sizes; need to be cut on site and cannot incorporate any engineering.

Smart panel span capacity is 3.6m.   If longer spans are required support purlins or integrated splines are incorporated into the design.    For most applications, SIPs are structurally self-sufficient.  In cases where a point load from a beam or header requires additional support, a double dimensional lumber spline or engineered wood spline is field installed at in-plane panel connections.  In roof applications, SIPs rely on beams and purlins for support.

As with any build understanding the engineering requirements of your design is critical to the overall build process.  We strongly recommend engaging an engineer as soon as concept plans are completed.  Engineering requirement of your design will have a direct influence on the complexity and cost of your build.  

SIPs can be engineered for most applications. Detailed information on the structural performance of  our Smart Panels are available on the Smartpanel specifications sheet available on the website: NZSIP.co.nz.  

 

Are SIPs compatible with other building systems?

SIPs are compatible with almost any building system. Wall panels can sit on a variety of foundation materials, including poured concrete, blocks, or insulated concrete forms. SIPs are sized to accept dimensional lumber and are seamlessly compatible with stick framing.

Are SIPs accepted by building authorities?

Yes.  Smart panels currently meet Council requirements under alternative solution category.  NZ SIP are currently undergoing Codemark certification (due Q1 2017) which will mean that all New Zealand  Building consent authorities  accept the codemark product certificate as evidence of compliance with the Building Code.

 

Can recessed lights be used in SIPs?

Recessed lights should never be embedded in structural insulated panels. Recessed lights can be fitted using an internal ceiling cavity.  May LED downlights are extremely low profile and will fit into a 20 mm ceiling cavity.

 

How are electrical wiring and fixtures installed?

Wiring is resolved in the cavity space between the Smart panel and the cladding product.  This allows conduit to be added for electrician to chase cabling through.  Fixtures are installed through floors, internal walls or internal cavity.

 

Can plumbing be installed in SIPs?

Plumbing should not be located in exterior SIP walls because of the possibility of condensation or supply lines freezing in cold climates. During the design phase of the project, all plumbing should be relocated through interior walls and/or floors.

 

Do SIPs block sound transmission?

The sound resistance of a SIP wall depends on the thickness of the gypsum drywall applied, the exterior finish applied and the thickness of the insulating foam core that is used. SIPs are especially effective at blocking high frequency noise and most homeowners notice the quiet comfort of a SIP home.

 

What are internal and external cladding options with Smart Panels?

Smart panels endorse and support the requirements  of the New Zealand Building code to use a cavity batten system.  This requires all claddings be installed with a drainage gap between the cladding and the weather resistant barrier.

Internally Smart panels are fixed with a batten and interiors can be finished in any standard  interior finish.

Externally, as with conventional building systems - the panels are battened out and can be finished in ply, cedar, thermory timber, titan board or cement board with a plaster finish or stone/brickwork finish.  

Direct fixing of cladding to SIPS panels is still undergoing research locally and internationally.  There are limited applications where direct fixing is an allowable building solution.

 

How important is ventilation? How do SIPs improve indoor air quality?

SIP buildings are extremely airtight and require mechanical ventilation.  Ventilation systems bring fresh air into the building in controlled amounts and exhaust moisture laden and stale air to the outside. By limiting air exchange to controlled ventilation systems, SIP homes allow for all incoming air to be filtered for allergens and dehumidified, creating better indoor air quality. Proper ventilation is important in all homes to preserve indoor air quality.

A controlled indoor environment is both healthy and comfortable. Humidity can be controlled more easily in a SIP home, resulting in a home that is more comfortable for occupants and less prone to mold growth and dust mites.

 

Are SIPs susceptible to mould and mildew?

An airtight SIP building envelope forms the basis of a successful mould control strategy. The extremely low levels of air infiltration in SIP buildings allow for incoming air to be provided in controlled amounts by air handling equipment.  MVRH systems create an environment where mold physically cannot grow.

In addition to creating a draught free structure, SIPs are solid and free of any cavities in the wall where moisture can condense and cause unseen mould growth.

What is the durability of Thermory Wood Products?

Heat Treated Nordic Pine is Class 2 durable : average lifespan of 15-25 years.  

Thermally Modified Ash is Class 1 durable: 25 years and more durability.

By comparison Western Red Cedar is a softwood and Class 3 durable: average lifespan of 5-15 years.

Why are MVHR systems more common now?

Best practice in building has changed over the years. Nowadays highly energy efficient buildings (such as a Passivhaus) can be thought of as water and air tight well insulated boxes with little “natural” ventilation. An MVHR system is a key element of this type of energy efficient building which can use a fraction of the energy used on space heating in a typical house (20% or less of what it costs to heat a typical house).

Traditional houses were not designed to be water or airtight. They were often built with solid walls so rain falling on the outer skin of the house could find its way to the inside. To make sure that damp did not build up there was often lots of natural ventilation (otherwise known as cold draughts) through the floors, windows, doors and roof. Despite this some more traditional homes still suffer from damp and mould due to lack of adequate ventilation. As energy costs have risen and people want more comfort the trend has been towards increased insulation measures, cutting natural ventilation and creating more damp and condensation problems. Some traditional homes, often those that are having a major renovation, have an MVHR system included as part of the upgrade. This allows insulation to be improved and can also help tackle problems with damp and condensation.

Couldn’t I just open the windows or use an extractor fan?

The simple answer is yes but the MVHR system allows you to control moisture and air changes throughout the day without losing a lot of heat energy. On a cold day you don’t really want all that lovely warm expensively heated air to disappear out the window or through the extractor fan.

Most families are away from home during the day and an MVHR allows the inddor conditioned space to be managed without any human intervention being required.

A wider consideration is that having fresh air is too important for people’s health to leave it to chance. Older houses rely on draughts and the opening of windows and doors to get fresh air in. As homes become more and more insulated then the draughts are reduced but this also reduces the opportunity for moist stale air to be changed and replaced; the result can be the build up of damp and condensation. A MVHR system can help address this.

If an MVHR runs 24-7 365 days a year isn't it costing you a lot of money to run?

An MVHR is a very passive systems with the DC fans running on very low wattage use.  In an average house it would use 85W on average and 370kWh/year.  It's important to note that they save 10x as much energy as they use during the winter. So if it's using 85W, it's reducing the heating load by 850W.

In monetary terms : at 27c per kWh and utilising 370kWh/year this equates to $99.90 and saving $1,000 of costs

What are the annual maintenance requirements with an MVHR system?

It is generally recommended to clean or change the filters in the MVHR unit once or twice a year. This is quite a simple task to do and would take around 15 minutes. Depending on the unit, replacement filters will cost around $30 so replacing twice a year would cost $60 plus any labour costs.  (The units come supplied with 2 years worth of replacement filters.)