Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Design

First Advisor

Jade Polizzi

Second Advisor

Georgia Lindsay

Third Advisor

Philip Graves

Abstract

Increasing the quality of a home generally increases the cost of construction; however, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) illustrate one innovation that may be able to break this rule. Can a smallscale home that is stronger and more energy efficient be built in less time and with less construction waste for the same lifespan cost as traditional stickframe construction? Small scale residential construction does not benefit from an economy of scale that helps reduce the cost of SIPs in larger homes, this study assesses whether costbased design decisions can offset the monetary savings from this economy of scale. This study determines the cost per material square foot for nine building elements common to residential construction by incorporating the point in time price of six major category costs. These building element costs are then compiled into a usable, designbased comparative cost matrix tool that allows architects and contractors to assess whether a small scale home design can be constructed with SIPs at the same cost as a typical stick frame structure. Three example homes priced with the matrix conclude that the cost to frame a small scale residential houses with SIPs is approximately 10% greater than stick framing. This additional cost means that SIP manufacturers need to decrease the material cost of Structural Insulated Panels if they are to be comparable in cost to typical stick frame construction for small scale residential homes.

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