The Short ‘Why ‘. Your home will:
- Provide unmatched comfort. - Be warmer in winter and cooler in summer. - Be drier. - Be quieter. - Be energy efficient and have low energy costs. - Minimize green house contribution to the atmosphere. - Be built with materials that can eventually be recycled. - Be stronger than timber framing. - Heed the lessons of building science.
The Longer ‘Why’. Building houses in New Zealand is changing – gradually. Change is always driven by a number of factors and house building is no exception.
1. Building Code
The Building code sets the minimum standards for building work. There is widespread opinion in the industry and public that houses need to exceed the minimum and avoid the issues of the recent past. Many designers, architects and builders are convincing their clients to do just that.
2. Healthy Homes
Many houses in New Zealand are damp, mouldy, cold and have undetected rot. Moisture in framing timber aggravates, or causes, health problems particularly in children. These problems are expensive to remedy and not confined to older housing stock but also affect large numbers recently built houses. To be a healthy home, houses must be warm in winter, cool in summer, dry and energy efficient. A SIPs building envelope with appropriate ventilation provides a solution to these issues.
The cost of energy to heat and cool a house will probably continue to increase. It is probable that energy performance certificates will be as common in New Zealand as they are across the European Union. These will drive information in the housing market and increase investment in the energy- efficiency measures such as quality of insulation ventilation and indoor air climate. The cost of energy in a SIPs house can be 50-75% less than a conventionally built house.
4. Climate Change
Weather patterns are changing with more storms, stronger winds and heavier rainfalls. SIPs houses are stronger than timber framed/plasterboard lined houses and will provide more security and resilience for our changing climate and earthquake prone location.
Economics is a powerful driver of change – over time. Institutions (banks, valuers, real estate, lawyers and accountants) and home owners are becoming aware of information provided by Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
Life Cycle Costing (LCC) is a method of assessing the costs associated with a project throughout its life. In a building project it is customary to group these costs and benefits into four categories – construction, maintenance, operating and demolition or salvage.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool that calculates the potential environmental impacts of building material, building elements and whole buildings. LCA can support design by showing the magnitude of environmental impacts and where they occur in the life cycle.
Depending on the design, specification and site the cost of construction for a SIPs house can be slightly higher than a timber framed house but when a LCC or a LCA is carried out, SIPs are the better performer.
6. Building Science
In the past designers and clients often ignored the variances in temperate, humidity, rain and wind of our climate and the variances in the indoor temperature and moisture content of New Zealand houses. Large numbers of houses were built for a hot dry, windless Mediterranean climate with poor design and faulty construction details. You will have seen the white shrouds covering buildings all over the country while expensive and stress inducing remediation is undertaken. Rain is the single most important factor to control for a durable structure. Scientists, BRANZ and others now look at a building as a ‘system’ and have provided effective strategies and details to control rain entry and moisture movement. SIPs panels themselves are an air barrier system. Each panel meets both the air barrier material requirement and the air barrier assembly requirement. Building science is, of course research based and constantly evolving but since the 1950’s has consistently supported the use of SIPs panels for building envelopes (walls, ceilings and roofs).
7. Collaborating Team
Formance is a family owned business. The family and staff understand that a team approach to the design and building of a home with clients, designers, other consultants, builder, subcontractors and suppliers delivers ideas and value to the project. Formance staff work hard to ensure their part in the process is professional and personal. They gain a lot of satisfaction in seeing their clients with ‘a better building’.
Structural insulated panels make great homes. They should be the building envelope technology of choice and considered for all the reasons listed at the beginning of this article.