Smart Panel Frequently Asked Questions

How much faster can I build with SIPs? 

NZSIP Smart Panel homes go up much faster than traditionally framed buildings. Statistically the structure 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 job site, eliminating the time needed to perform the individual operations of framing, insulating and wrapping stick-framed walls. 


What are the Standard Smart Panel sizes?

Smart Panels are manufactured in the following sizes: 

  • Standard Smart Wall panel sheet sizes: 1205 mm wide x 2.4m, 2.7m, 3m high.
  • Standard Roof & Floor panel sheet sizes 1205 mm wide x 2.4m, 2.7m, 3m, 3.6m long.
  • All Smart Panels have the option of OSB or PLY* (*limited to 2.7m) 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 and comfort levels increased. 


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. 


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 compression loads.

Smart Panels manufactured in our Cromwell factory are a custom produced 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 standard PUR or EPS structural insulated panels are manufactured in standard sizes; need to be cut post manufacture 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 is available, please contact us for the latest documentation


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.  


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 are electrical wiring and fixtures installed?

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


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. 


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. 


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. 


Are SIPs susceptible to mold and mildew? 

An airtight SIP building envelope forms the basis of a successful mold 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.  MVHR  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 mold growth. 


Can rodents and birds get into the SIP building structure?

An airtight SIP building envelope stops all vermin and pests from being able to enter into the building structure removing the issues of mice,rats and nesting birds within the wall or roof cavity of your home. 


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. 

How important is ventilation?

How do SIPs improve indoor air
quality?