SIP’s which stands for Structural Insulated Panel’s are becoming a popular option in garden office construction. SIP’s are replacing the use of traditional timber frames in garden office construction, and offer considerable savings on materials, construction time and costs.
SIP’s also offer better thermal and acoustic insulation than timber frames. In traditional timber framed buildings the insulation is normally fitted between the timber framework, this is a perfectly acceptable method of insulating a garden office but does mean that the areas where the timber studs, joists or rafters are located is not insulated. As wood is a natural insulator a timber frame does have some natural insulating properties, but it’s not as good as a building which is sheathed (wrapped) in insulation.
To overcome this problem a timber frame can have a layer of insulation fixed to the outside, this overcomes the problems with ‘cold spots’ (areas with no insulation) where the timber frame is. This is a viable solution but can end up creating a very thick wall to meet Building Regulation u-values.
Structural Insulated Panel’s form comparatively narrow wall whilst achieving low u-values (the lower the u-value the better performing). SIP’s are basically a sandwich of structural wood sheathing and rigid insulation. Because there is no timber framework bridging the insulation, there are no ‘cold spots’ and a building built with SIP’s is enveloped in insulation and therefore highly thermally efficient.
As well as offering good levels of thermal insulation SIP’s also offer improved acoustic insulation, this is a particularly important factor in a small building such as a garden office. If you are working in a garden office you don’t want to be disturbed by the noise of rain on the roof, or for your neighbours to be able to hear the contents of a private telephone conversation! Because there are few joints and therefore gaps for sound to escape a SIP’s constructed garden office is acoustically efficient.
SIP’s are normally made from OSB (orientated strand board) which is an engineered wooden product; basically flakes of wood are glued together in different directions which creates a very strong sheet. This sheet is then laminated (glued) to a sheet of rigid insulation like two slices of bread and a filling, this sandwich forms an incredibly strong panel which is suitable for use in load bearing applications.
Door and window openings are cut into the SIP’s in the factory so SIP’s construction has a high level of precision. Floors, walls and roofs can all be built with SIP’s which means a garden office framework can be constructed in a matter of hours.
Channels for plumbing and electrics can be inserted into the panel in the factory, but most commonly a utility void is created, this is formed by attaching battens to the inner side of the SIP’s which offset the internal linings and thus hide the cables and pipes for a professional finish.
Because of the speed of installation, thermal efficiency and efficient use of materials SIP’s are the future of garden office construction. Garden office companies already adopting this construction method include Pod Space and Vivid Green.