Most people unfamiliar with the SIP panel building industry confuse it with prefabricated or modular construction technologies. Unfortunately, this mistaken impression has led many to believe that SIP panels are a 'cheap' and design limited alternative. However, modular construction methods and SIP panels are two very distinct technologies.
For starters, modular buildings are generally mass produced in manufacturing facilities to take advantage of cost savings. Modular structures are then transported to the jobsite and installed. This approach reduces the installation time, but any savings are quickly lost when one considers the difficulties in establishing a vapor barrier since modular homes arrive with trim and siding already completed. This approach makes wrapping a modular home in an effective membrane for air tightness and superior thermal performance, a difficult task.
Modular buildings are prone to the same on-the-site construction difficulties as their counterparts: stick-framed homes. There are problems with making modular structures level, straight, and the transportation to the job site can leave the modular building with weakened joints and non-square corners. These cookie - cutter mass produced units are limited in design and have therfore transformed America into a series of suburban clones.
On the other hand, SIP buildings take advantage of the modern approach to building, where communication takes place between the architects, manufacturing company, and sales people. The flexibility of CAD programs and speed of fabrication techniques means a project can be conceived, designed, refined, delivered, and assembled in less time than a conventional stick framed building.
Moreover, straight walls and roofs are taken for granted by homeowners. Unfortunately, it is difficult to produce these standards with stick framing. The advantages of a CAD drafting system, the superior continuous expanse of the SIP, efficient spline connections, and today's highly efficient manufacturing techniques has allowed for SIPs to built to 1/8 inch tolerances, a truly magnificent feat, when one considers the standard for today's framing tolerances is 1 inch.
The bottom line is that a straight, plumb, and even wall gives a general contractor the best opportunity to do their best work. Additionally, the tightness of the SIP walls results in a virtually airtight thermal blanket with excellent energy efficiency