American Society of Civil Engineers

Structural Insulated Panels: Impact on the Residential Construction Process

by Michael A. Mullens, P.E., (Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Industrial Engrg. and Mgmt. Systems, Univ. of Central Florida, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., P.O. Box 162993, Orlando, FL 32816-2993. E-mail: and Mohammed Arif, (Lectuer, Proj. Mgmt., Inst. of Engrg., The British Univ. in Dubai, P.O. Box 502216, Dubai, UAE. E-mail:

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 132, No. 7, July 2006, pp. 786-794, (doi:

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Document type: Technical Note
Abstract: Uncertainty and risk have contributed to the reluctance of U.S. homebuilders to embrace new construction technologies. This paper explores one innovative, but underutilized building technology, structural insulated panels (SIPs), and its impact on the residential construction process. The paper presents findings from a side-by-side case study of the construction of two Habitat for Humanity homes, one SIP and one conventional wood-framing. Although the study focuses on labor productivity and cycle time during framing, other key construction performance metrics are assessed including worker safety, quality/workmanship, material waste, worker skill levels, and equipment requirements. Findings indicate that SIPs saved about two-thirds of the site framing labor for walls and roofs, with cycle time savings of similar magnitude. No significant impacts on other construction performance metrics were observed, however, size of the panels did require a lift truck and construction crane. While conclusions are limited by the scope of the case study, the writers believe that building with SIPs can be very efficient. The paper identifies key actions required of builders and SIP manufacturers to maximize potential benefits.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Construction management
Risk management