Frequently asked questions

What are SIPs?

SIPs are high-performance building panels for walls and roofs in residential and commercial buildings. Each panel is typically made using polyisocyanurate rigid foam insulation sandwiched between two structural skins of oriented strand board (OSB. The result is a building system that is very strong, predictable, energy efficient, and cost effective.

Is SIP technology new?

No, they have been successfully used worldwide since the 1950’s. The first SIP home was built in 1952 in Michigan , USA. However, the Kingspan TEK Building System used by SPA Building Systems is recognised and approved by the Local Authorities and holds a BBA Third Part Accreditation Certificate.

Many historians credit the architect/engineer Frank Loyd Wright and one of his students Alden B. Dow as being the father of the modern SIP panel. The first single family home that was built from SIPs by Dr. Wright and student was located in Baltimore Md. and was built in 1932. About two years ago this structure was relocated to a museum and the panels, then some 73 years old were still intact and were usuable.

How do SIPs compare in costs?

Building with SIPs generally costs about the same as building with wood frame construction, when you factor in the labor savings resulting from shorter construction time and less job-site waste. Compared to a un-insulated concrete framed/block building they are slightly cheaper. If you were, however, to insulate a concrete framed building to achieve the same degree of insualtion, sips are a lot cheaper.

Other savings are realized because less expensive heating and cooling systems are required with SIP construction and the on-site time being consderably shorter.

Why are SIPs more environmentally responsible?

When you build with SIPs, you are building homes that can save 50% or more on energy costs when compared to conventional stick frame construction, and more than 200% of the energy costs of an un-insulated concrete framed building. That means less fossil fuel consumption and less greenhouse gas emissions.

SIP technology provides higher “whole-wall” R-value, tightens the gaps in the building envelope, and reduces air infiltration. That allows you to downsize the heating and cooling equipment. Its the combination of these systems that makes up the technology of a high-performance SIP home.

You will also enjoy the green building benefits of less job-site waste, better utilization of material resources, and more environmentally friendly building practices.

How is wiring done?

Where possible run wiring through internal studs partitioning walls. However, where wiring has to be run up TEK walls we do the following we create a 50mm cavity between the inside face of the panel and the internal finish and use this space for services. Generally the wiring (and plumbing) is taken through this space.

Why are SIPs so much stronger?

SIPs structural characteristics are similar to a steel I-beam. The skins act like the flanges of an I-beam, and the rigid core provides the web of the I-beam configuration. This composite assembly yields stiffness, strength, and predictable performance. Not only do test results show panels are stronger, but natural disasters have proven it time and again.

Homes built with SIPs withstood the Great Hanshin ( Kobe , Japan ) and North Ridge earthquakes, as well as Hurricane Andrew.

How does the TEK Building System react to fire?

Fire requires three components: fuel, ignition, and oxygen. SIPs have no “air” within their solid cores of insulation. The fire cannot “run up the wall” cavity even when balloon framed. SIPs have passed every standard fire test required of wood based or type V construction. A key element of fire safety is protection of the SIPs and any other underlying structure with 30-minute thermal barriers, such as gypsum wallboard.

The Kingspan TEK Building System exceeded the Building Regulation requirements with regards to fire resistance and achieved 54 minutes fire resistance and structural integrity (when internally lined with 12.5 mm standard plasterboard) and 73 minutes fire resistance and structural integrity (when internally lined with 12.5 mm fire resistant plasterboard) in accordance with BS476: Part 21: 1987 ((Fire tests on building materials and structures). Methods for determination of the fire resistance of load bearing elements of construction to the Building Regulations).

How do SIPs save so much labour?

Cutting and fabricating, based on your construction drawings, are done for you in our manufacturing plant. That reduces site labor and time building materials are exposed to the weather on the job site.

SIPs are also made in large sizes up to 1.2m by 6m so assembly on-site is faster, framing crews are more productive, and the project is “dried-in” sooner. That means other subcontractors can get a head start on the jobs they need to do.

Is the TEK Building System vulnerable to insects and pests?

The CFC/HCFC-free rigid urethane core of the SIP panels in the Kingspan TEK Building System resists attack by mould and microbial growth and does not provide food value to vermin.

As an additional measure we treat all elements that touch the ground slab throughout the building with a special treatment that is absorbed into the structure, giving long term protection over and above any potential attack.

What is the life expectancy for the Kingspan TEK Building System?

When designed and installed correctly, the Kingspan TEK Building System can have a life span of not less than 60 years. In fact, the first building constructed in SIPs was in the 1930’s and that is still standing.  Concrete framed structures has been proved to last a lot less in houses built in the last 30 years.

In many countries, especially in cold, damp northern climates, timber has been used in construction for hundreds of years and and is considered more durable than many other construction methods over long periods of time.

Will I have any planning problems using SIP’s?

The approval process for the  TEK Building System is as smooth as the construction process itself.

Sips have already been accepted in Cyprus as a viable construction alternative and Local Authorities have given the system its full support. We have successfully obtained both planning and building permit approvals in all of the districts in Cyprus.

BBA and IAB certification of the system means that there are no concerns with regard to the suitability of the construction process.

Who can design buildings using SIP’s?

We will work closely with your Architect to develop the most efficient design using SIP’s. If you do not have an Architect, we can carryout the design and construction management from concept through to completion including obtaining the necessary planning and Building Control Approvals.

Will using SIP panels limit the design?

No, any design can be constructed using the SIP system. We will advise you on normal building practices to achieve a cost efficient design and show you how we can construct a design intended for construction using another method with SIPS.

How long does it take to erect the TEK Building System?

A typical three or four bedroom house can be constructed to be wind and water tight in 3 to 4 weeks.

Why aren't SIPs more widely used here in Cyprus?

Lack of awareness and use of sustainable building methods are the main reasons. Having said that, out of the various methods of modern construction currently available in Cyprus, the TEK system is probably the most successful as our track records shows.

The new Building Regulations / Standards which have recently come into effect in Cyprus have challenge many traditional construction systems. People are now looking at ways of meeting the new requirements economically.

Thermal efficiency combined with excellent air tightness, the speed of build and the low site wastage makes the Kingspan TEK Building System a very cost effective way of exceeding the new Building Regulations / Standards. In addition to this, the extremely low U-values that can be achieved by using Kingspan TEK Building System (as low as 0.20 W/ m2.K in roofs and walls) means the system will also easily meet the U-values that are expected to be set in the next anticipated changes to the Building Regulations / Standards.

What type of roof finishes can be used?

You can use traditional tiling methods with counter battens and tiling battens or profile metal sheeting.

What wall finishes can I use?

Some of the many finishing options that you have are external render onto appropriate carriers, brick slips, feather edge boarding and tile hanging, as well as building an outer leaf of brickwork or stone with the Kingspan TEK Building System shell forming the inner leaf.

What is the best heating system for these houses?

Our buildings are are cheap to run from the viewpoint of heating bills because they are so energy efficient. You can use any conventional heating system but they have to be ‘down-sized’ considerably and sometimes eliminated altogether, as heating demand can be very low or negligible.

There are also other approaches to heating that you can consider that are more in line with Eco friendly approaches including heat recovery ventilation, heat pumps and solar.

Whatever heating system you chose, we advise that you should have it engineered to suit the heating demands of a TEK rather than a conventional build.

Can I get a mortgage and building insurance with the TEK system?

Mortgage and insurance applications are dealt with in Cyprus much like any other building.

Can I cut an opening in the panel at a later stage if I want to move a window or door?

Alterations can usually be accommodated during the construction process if required. Prior approval in writing from Kingspan TEK will be required. Alterations following completion of the building are possible but more difficult and should, where possible, be carried out by an approved Kingspan TEK contractor who has access to the original design plans. N.B. A structural engineer must verify all alterations.