SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) inspection tips?

Have seen a few homes with SIPs foundations, but very few. Does anyone have any experience with inspecting this system, and any thoughts on what types of problems or defects that I should look for?

Inspection tips???

Not to the point, but I know of a SIPs house with a walkout basement that had a frozen/busted water supply pipe for an exterior faucet that allowed water to run through the 1st floor sub floor structure then into the basement. Didn’t see the house then, but supposedly they had to replace quite a bit of the basement foundation walls due to water damage of the OSB facing. .

Short info sheet at BSC at http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/enclosures-that-work/high-r-value-wall-assemblies/high-r-wall-06-sips-wall-construction/?searchterm=SIP

APA has a detailed product guide at:

SIPS.org has a detailed document at:
http://www.sips.org/downloads/19presciptive-method-for-sip-wall-systems.pdf

I’ve inspected about a dozen of them. You should visit the panel manufacturers website for technical data to familiarize yourself with the structural, air sealing, moisture sealing and HRV requirements. Sip homes are much different than standard construction and need a critical eye. This is not a basic inspection and more than just some quick tips are needed to perform a good inspection. No offense, but If your a new inspector differ this inspection to an inspector with a strong energy audit background.

No, I am not a new inspector, just new to NACHI. I agree that SIPs is different. But so is ICF, permanent wood foundations, and log home construction. I think I understand how they are “supposed” to be constructed, but also know people often don’t read the manual. I inspect in a rural area and nobody follows the rules. There are always issues with moisture sealing, ventilation, and improper use of the material.

I guess my original question wasn’t clear. I was hoping someone could share some of their experiences with SIPs, where they have seen failures, etc.

No disrespect meant. Most often these projects are overseen by a manufactures rep during construction, so structural issues are generally minimal with new construction. Most of the issues I have found are moisture damage related to do with Window / door flashing failure, missing kickout flashings, improper deck flashings, etc. High humidity in the home is also a big contributor to mold, so take readings and make sure the HRV is operational and properly sized. My last sip home I inspected was only two years old and the OSB panels were wiped out from a second floor bathroom window leak. My only clue this existed was some water staining on the foundation below the window. The damage observed was very similar to what we see behind EIFS when water intrusion occurs. If you could only imagine what it took to replace an 8 foot Sip panel in a finished tile bathrooms outer wall. These assembly’s are extremely sensitive to moisture and all your flashing and caulking details should be closely scrutinized. Good luck

Thanks. Other tips I have run into: - never use can lights in a SIPs ceiling. Avoid running plumbing through exterior walls (I have seen disastrous result of piping to an exterior faucet). The manufactures don’t require it, but recommend drainage planes behind most exterior cladding.

A bit like EIFS and cultured stone veneers. I’ve become paranoid about moisture seepage with these too. Kickout flashing, window and door flashing. Drainage planes. Seen a couple of 2-story homes built foundation-to-top plate with ICS construction, and those NEED to have a vanEE whole house air exchange system or something similar.

Condensation failures due to poorly calculated dew points inside wall insulation. Different conversation, but I once found problems in a house where someone tried combining spray foam and fiberglass insulation, “Flash & Dash”. In some wall and ceilings the cold leached through and caused condensation between the layers of insulation. The point is, vapor barriers can cause problems when improperly used.

I get the newsletter from www.greenbuildingadvisor.com - they always have great articles about a variety of construction do’s and don’ts, pros and cons of various building materials. They talk a lot about moisture issues, HVAC, etc.

Somewhere I read a SIPs manufacturer admit that using panel in ceiling construction can lead to reduced lifespan of composition shingles due to a higher roof temperature.