Take a few SIPS

You might all be familiar with my fascination/obsession with tiny houses.  I went to a workshop earlier this year on how to build them, and, although I’ve put my plans on hold for a while, I’m still very interested in knowing the best way to build them and the best layouts for livability. The thing about these tiny domiciles is that they need to be very wind resistant, for several reasons.  First, of course, is the fact that they could probably easily blow over in a strong storm.  Secondly, it is probable that some day you will drive your tiny home down a highway, which is the same as exposing it to gale-force winds.

Another important feature of tiny homes is the weight.  How heavy the home is will determine the size and structure of the trailer required and also the vehicle required to tow it.  You have to leave room for “stuff” in the home as well.

I spoke with my friend Michael Carlson (a brilliant local architect) one day about my tiny home project idea, and he suggested I contact Brian Bishop of New Panel Homes to talk about SIPS.  I had heard of SIPS (structurally insulated panels) before and was excited to learn more about them.

As it turns out, SIPS are way cool!  I visited New Panel Homes and got the full tour from Brian’s wife, Jeanne Bishop.  They have a “Katrina cottage” on site, and I was able to look inside.  They began building the Katrina cottages in response to the unfortunate situation caused by the formaldehyde-laden trailers that were provided to displaced homeowners by FEMA.  Now they are working to provide homes for Haitians following the massive earthquake there.


The coolest thing about SIPS is that they do not require any outside or inside finishing.  That’s right – since the outside is made of siding material and the inside is made of a drywall-like material, you don’t need the extra time/money/weight/hassle of adding siding.  This is crucial when it comes to tiny houses.  The added material adds not only weight but inches.  In a tiny home, you want to maximize the inside dimensions so you can have as much space as possible.   With SIPS, all you need to do is paint on the inside and out.

SIPS make it super easy to build a house because, instead of long hours of measuring, cutting and framing, your panels arrive ready to assemble – which often means simply screwing them together.  The Bishops work with you on your design, and then your panels are cut to spec, complete with window and door holes.  The 16′ x 30′ Katrina house pictured above took only 5 days to completely assemble!  How cool is that?

Imagine how easy it would be to put together my tiny house.  I’m drooling at the thought!  The standard panels are 4″ thick, but they can make them thicker.  The roofs are 6″ thick, and the buildings end up being very energy efficient. It was very exciting to learn about this relatively new technology that works so well in Florida.  Did I mention they are rated for up to 200 mph winds? Of course, New Panel Homes also builds more traditional homes like the one pictured below.  So, whether you’re interested in downsizing and simplifying to a comfortable, tiny abode or want a super energy efficient and wind resistant home, get in touch with Jeanne and Brian. They can make your dream a reality!

New Panel Homes - Structurally insulated panels

1 Comment

  • What’s ballpark pricing on these, Elsie? I presume things like plumbing, electricity, etc. are not part of the plan.

    Anyway, thanks for the info.

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