Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alternative Housing Materials

Dream home planning is in full swing. We may not be breaking ground anytime in the near future, but when we do we want to be fully ready.

Do any of you have experience with (or know of anybody, personally) who has built with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), straw bales, steel buildings, or any other non-traditional framing? Any insights? Advice? Tricks? Warnings?

We want to do as much of the construction ourselves as possible... do any of those materials lend themselves (or exclude themselves) to the DIYer?

Thanks in advance.


Jenna St. Hilaire said...

Wish I had more insights... my parents seriously considered straw-bale insulation when we built our house in MT. I'm not sure why they didn't go for it, unless it be that we settled on pole construction.

Now, I was only 17 at the time, but the pole structure (penta-treated poles sunk in deep concrete holes, as opposed to a traditional foundation) didn't seem to have any disadvantages, and the house survived the only tornado I've ever heard of in Bozeman. :) It was cheaper then than setting a foundation (may not be now), and we did all the digging and setting ourselves.

My parents put a metal roof on their new old place, and did it all themselves. I think it was less expensive than shingles. I'm not sure what they did, but their house amazingly doesn't sound like one of those big metal barns at the fair when it rains.

Kate said...

My father-in-law is a carpenter; I'm sure you could pick his brain over the phone or email.  :)

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Farmer's City Wife said...

Veeeery interesting. Thanks for the input!!

Farmer's City Wife said...

Will be in touch :).

Molly Koop said...

We used SIP's to build our home, but it is definitely not a DIY project.  They're wonderful insulators and go up quickly (kind of like putting together a puzzle).  Unlike traditional stick frame homes, the SIP home is tight; you don't get cool air drafting in nor does the warm air (that you pay so much for in the winter) seep outside.  Highly recommended.  With SIP panels, you'll pay about 5% more upfront (compared to stick frame) but you'll save more than that over time in heating and cooling your home.  We chose a contractor who had lots of experience building SIP homes.  The technology has been around for around thirty years, but not everyone has experience with them.  With the trend toward "green build" homes, more contractors are learning the technology.  Here's a link to our blog (posted a long time ago) that might be helpful to you.  You can follow the link on the post to a helpful video about SIP's as well.  http://eccdom.blogspot.com/search/label/Design?updated-max=2008-10-12T22:04:00-05:00&max-results=20  We also used spray foam for our vaulted ceilings and have some information about that if you'd like.  Do be in touch if you have more questions! 

Farmer's City Wife said...

All excellent to know (and I'm a secret subscriber to your blog ;)). Thanks so much for the input!

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