TINY HOUSE – it’s sips time

Sometimes it seems as if things are taking forever to complete. They just drag on and on, a painfully slow process of tedious tasks and minor accomplishments. This is not one of those times.

I knew pretty early on that I wanted to use SIPs (Structually Insulated Panels) for my tiny house. SIPs consist of an insulating, EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam core laminated between two sheets of OSB (oriented strand board) using a structural adhesive. These simple panels form the walls and roof of my humble abode. These are some of the many reasons I chose to go with SIPs over standard framing:

  • structurally sound – especially considering the possible hurricane force winds generated during a highway move
  • lighter – got to keep under that 10,000 lbs mark
  • faster – it took two days to go from trailer to tiny house
  • energy efficient – whole wall r-value, less thermal bridging and air leakage
  • environmentally conscious – renewable and recyclable materials as well as less construction waste
  • insect and mold resistant – with non-toxic, naturally mined minerals that deter insects and inhibit mold growth

The makings of a wall to hold and a future window. A 1 1/2″ portion of the foam will be scooped out at all of the edges to make room for 2×4’s.

I searched for a local SIPs manufacturer and found Premier SIPs in Puyallup, WA. After perusing their website a bit, I thought I needed to go through one of their distributors in order to purchase the SIPs. So I contacted the company that was closest, Advanced Build NW in Lakewood, WA, and started the conversation. I later found out that I could purchase the SIPs directly through Premier, but at that point things were already well under way.

I had originally planned on just purchasing the panels and doing all the cutting and assembling myself. I even had my uncle (an experienced contractor) offer to come up for a weekend to help. But when I went into the Advance Build NW office to meet with Gary and Sam – I got an offer I just couldn’t refuse. They really wanted to get in on the Tiny House market and wanted to use my project as both an experience builder and a marketing tool. They said – and I’m paraphrasing here – let us build it here at our office and take photos and we won’t charge for the labor, just materials. They even said they would be happy to have me come in to help out on the build, so that I could still be part of the full process. So what’s a girl to do? Take the offer of course!


A little advertising.

There were many benefits of having professionals do the SIP construction. One – I could use full size panels for the construction. I had been thinking I would need to use small 4 foot wide sections in order to be able to lift them into place even with help. But since they had machines and plenty of help to get big panels into place, I was able to make most of the walls and roof out of just single panels – this was my SIP order: (1)4’x10’, (2)8’x10’, (2)8’x20’, (1)4’x22′, & (1)8’x22’. Bigger panels mean less joints, which makes for a more structurally sound, energy efficient, and airtight envelope.

Working with a construction company also gave me access to some building products that are a bit difficult for the amateur builder to get a hold of. I opted to go with a liquid applied WRB (weather-resistant barrier) that the crew at Advanced Build NW has used on many of their projects. It’s called Enviro-Dri from Tremco Barrier Solutions. It’s applied like paint, with a roller or sprayer, and provides a permanently adhered membrane that stops water from entering, but allows vapor to escape.

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I had planned to bring in my trailer aka my foundation on Thursday November 5th. But plans changed quite suddenly when my boyfriend called to tell me his father had suffered a heart attack and asked me to fly out to Minnesota with him. Of course I went. I asked my mom to help my step dad take my trailer in and I hopped on the ferry and then the plane. It was a difficult time for my boyfriend and his family and I was glad I was there to help out in any way I could. I am happy to report that his father is now back at home and healing well, thank goodness.

While I was in Minnesota, I was in contact with the team at Advanced Build NW via email. Sam was great with sending me photos and keeping me apprised of the progress each day. While it would have been nice to take part in the build, I knew I was where I needed to be and that my tiny house was in good hands.


So scary to drive to this thing around. Every overpass and power line looked way too low.

I got back to Seattle on Sunday Nov 15th, the wind and rain arrived soon after. I had to wait until Wednesday for the weather to calm enough that I could go and safely pick up my tiny house. It was a very simple transaction: I signed a paper; they signed a paper; I drove a tiny house away. Actually my step dad drove, he has a ton of experience driving trucks and semi’s, and hauling loads both big and small. We took the back roads and stayed off the freeway as much as possible. It was incredibly nerve wracking for me. It felt like every sign and power line was 10 feet off the ground. I was just waiting to hear a scraping noise or feel a sudden jolt, but nothing – it was smooth sailing. We pulled into my moms long driveway and I breathed a big sigh of relief – we had made it without knocking anything over. Woohooo! Ssccrrraaaaaaaapppee!! Oops – I spoke too soon. That was the sound of the basketball hoop scraping over my roof as we backed into position. My step dad is never going to live that one down.


Pretty minor damage, considering the state of the basketball hoop.


Said basketball hoop…

Now it is safely parked and leveled in my mothers driveway, where it will sit for the unforeseeable future (hopefully not too long). A big thanks to my Mom and Step Dad for the use of the driveway, tools, help, and all of their love and support. Also a huge thanks to the crew at Advanced Build NW – I’m looking forward to seeing just how well those SIPs perform… will I really only need two candles to heat my tiny space? We’ll see – just as soon as I put a door in.


First beer in the tiny house – a little celebration!


Thanks for reading!




3 responses to “TINY HOUSE – it’s sips time

  1. Way to go Rene. You were very lucky to get it built by a sip builder. It worked out for both of you. Good looking shell. Now for the finish work.

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