Tiny SIP House

tiny sip house

by Art Cormier

My name is Art Cormier and I decided to build a tiny house this last fall. I realized I had been living in large space, but only using a small portion of it. I began to research floor plans online and decided to start with the basic layout of Jay Shafer’s Walden (Tiny Tumbleweed Houses).

The thought of framing up such a small space and subjecting it to the stresses of transport on a trailer seemed daunting. S.I.P. (Structural Insulated Panels, SIPS.org) panels seemed like a good option.

tiny sip house

With the panels each surface would be one piece, making the construction easy. S.I.P.s allow someone without extensive building skills to put together a sound structure. This was my first experience using S.I.P.s and there is much detail of the process on my blog, tinysiphouse.blogspot.com.

tiny 3D drawing of house

The completed house feels roomier than I anticipated. Getting rid of extraneous things must have had something to do with it. I did not sacrifice anything other than square footage for my tiny house, in fact I am quite comfortable. I hope that my experience with my house might inspire people both to downsize and to consider S.I.P.s

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mike - May 31, 2012 Reply

That thing is tight! Very nice…

I’m wondering what the ventilation situation is on a house like that…

    art - May 31, 2012 Reply

    Hi mike. The casement windows open fully allowing maximum area for air movement. The two windows in the gable tops allow a stack effect to occur. The windows are all hinged on the same side of the pane, (right hand) so that windows on one side act as a scoop and the opisite side as a suction. It seems to work well.

      Connell - January 5, 2014 Reply

      Hi Art,

      You recently helped Joe at Tumbleweed assemble his SIPs house from panels manufactured by SIPs of America and wanted some feedback.

      Thanks,

      Connell

Angie - May 31, 2012 Reply

I like that SIP idea. Makes it more feasible for a building novice or intermediate skilled person.

Also, I love that there seems to be enough windows a placed in the right places.

Good job.

Larry Cooper - May 31, 2012 Reply

I thought SIPs would be a good idea and I always wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. I can’t imagine anything being tougher of better insulated. Nice Job!

Aria - May 31, 2012 Reply

Beautiful little house! I love all the reclaimed materials, that antique wood is simply gorgeous!
What a great job you, and all those that helped you, did 🙂

Amy - May 31, 2012 Reply

Nicely done. Great video tour. I love, love, love the folding ladder. Is that a DIY or can you buy them somewhere?

Abel Zimmerman Zyl - May 31, 2012 Reply

Seeing your photos of the posts, door, and old pine made my carpenter’s heart lurch. Beautiful finishwork, man! Perfect attention to simplicity and function.

I am curious to know how much your house weighs…?

    art - May 31, 2012 Reply

    Hi Mackey

    I weighed it at a truck stop scale, The weight on the axles was 5600 lbs and the weight on the tounge just under 1000.

alice h - May 31, 2012 Reply

Beautiful job. Lots of good info on the linked site, answers a lot of questions I had. One problem I would have with SIP is I tend to build alone and the panels are heavy where I can lift just about any component of a stick built house by myself. I suppose you could always set up some block and tackle arrangement to deal with the pieces. The added cost of having someone else construct the SIP or the added time (and possible experimental material wastage)of having to become familiar with a whole new way of building might be problems.

Looks like a good fit for some people though and that ladder is genius!

    Jim Chatman - May 31, 2012 Reply

    Hi, Alice!

    Yeah, I was concerned about how a person might build this solo also, but talking with folks have given me some ideas. One is to do as they have done and use a forklift to place one of the roof panels. The forklift is just another method to do the heavy lifting of the block-and-tackle, as you point out, and like you, I would probably use a block-and-tackle where I could.

    The second idea may or may not work depending on where you live, but I’m going to give it a shot when I get ready to build. A friend in Oregon, where I lived for 18 years, had to re-roof their earth home because the rubber membrane had begun to leak, so they posted a notice at their local community college (Lane C.C.), for work on a Saturday, sodas and hot dogs for helping, and ended up with over 20 people showing up to help. They got done in a day what they expected to take two days, and possibly even part of another.

    If someone near me needed help like that and posted a request for labor assistance, I’d sure try to help out. I intend to give it a shot when the time comes if I see that I’ll be unable to do it all myself.

    We’ll see! Happy building!

Jim Chatman - May 31, 2012 Reply

Hi, Art;

I watched your video and I’m rarin’ to go build my SIP Tiny House, now. I have to say that the video was excellent and your narration was superb, and I thank you for that.

I probably saw on the Tiny House blog where someone was building with SIPs, 3 or 4 years ago, but I’m not sure exactly where the idea came to me from. I’m still a few years away from building – long story – but I was/am looking to downsize in the future, and SIPs are going to allow me to do that with a lot of customization, I see. Some of your still photography was more instructive for me than you might imagine. The shot of the, I think it was 6, folks picking up what looked like an entire wall panel answered a basic question for me – how many strong bodies will I need to help? – so I thank you for that bit of information, as well.

Back when I was red hot on the notion of SIPs (I still am, but reality has had a tempering effect 😉 ), I contacted a manufacturer located in Georgia, where I live, and they were quite excited to give a Tiny House a shot. That was VERY encouraging! I’ve emailed them a couple times just to let them know that, yes, it will happen, but not on my original time frame (no, no felonies involved!).

Since I was a kid building forts and playhouses as an only child growing up in the then-wilderness of central Florida where my father was a forest ranger, I’ve always had a notion of building small. I’ve always driven a small car. I want a small house. I like living with as little impact on the planet as I can make.

Thank you for sharing your home, time, and video with us! I’ve seen quite a few videos on Tiny Houses but yours is the first SIP-centric video I’ve seen, and I thank you heartily for it!

JC

LMackey - May 31, 2012 Reply

I’ve also been curious about using SIPS for my future tiny home but I can’t stand OSB and given issues with my lungs, any kind of off-gassing is a concern. I realize that it’s covered up by other materials, but that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. Does anyone know if you can get SIPS made with a construction ply that doesn’t have the same level of concerns? I’m assuming it would be more costly.

    art - May 31, 2012 Reply

    Hi mackey

    that was one of my concerns as well. There is much information about formaldihyde gassing in construction adhesives, some are better than others. The adhesive used in the osb of th panels is the same as used in plywood, just more of it. I also read that one piece of upholstered furniture will produce more offgassing that the sips.

    Bob P. - June 7, 2015 Reply

    Besides the weight, you are still dealing with wood, which degrades over time. And if any moisture gets in contact with the wood (and it will eventually), you have to worry about rot, which will cause the OSB to separate from the foam core, which means compromise of the structure.

MBee - May 31, 2012 Reply

What was the cost of this house? I like it!

Tiny House built using SIPs construction | The Art Of Living Deliberately - May 31, 2012 Reply

[…] Tiny SIP House by Kent Griswold on May 31st, 2012. 13 Comments 7 […]

Matt - May 31, 2012 Reply

AWESOME!

Glad to see someone thinking on these “tiny house trailers”. Instead of sticking a smaller version of a typical house on wheels, YOU have adapted!

Let me ALSO congratulate you on presenting a video full of composure. NOT everyone should be making YouTube videos and you show how it can be done WITHOUT yelling, running, shaking the camera and certainly not fumbling for words when speaking.

The extension faucet is a MUST! Buckets, containers, cleaning, etc…make those standard faucets useless in no time.

SIPs…more uniformity, insulation and fewer errors in measurement. Nice!

Folding ladder…brilliant!

Soshi door…brilliant!

Non-Standard walls for the bathroom, thus creating more useable space…Excellent!

Boat appliances 🙂 …I like that just because I know boats.

WELL DONE SIR! You have won the internet today

Matt

steph - May 31, 2012 Reply

Very nice!

Cathy - May 31, 2012 Reply

Your house is beautiful and this was the most informative video on tiny houses I have ever seen. Explaining the utilities behind the house was a first and so helpful! The sips website is a little tricky. how did you pick a distributor? I went on the website trying to get an idea of prices.

Great job and I wish you lots of happiness in your tiny home.

    art - June 1, 2012 Reply

    Hi Cathy

    I found there are sip manufacturers accross the country. most are members of sipa or simular organizations that set standards for panels so there wus very little difference in the products. I decided to go with teh panels that were produced closest to where i live to reduce the energy to ship them

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - May 31, 2012 Reply

I agree. That was one of the best videos I’ve seen. Very well-made and informative. Beautiful house. Love your choice of building materials and the choice of boat appliances. Any guy that eats KIND cereal is a friend of mine.

EmmaJ - May 31, 2012 Reply

Art, I’ve looked around a little to get an idea about prices for SIPs. If you don’t mind me asking, how much did you pay for yours?

    art - June 1, 2012 Reply

    Hi Emma

    I found the sips company very eager to get new builders on board. They were interested in my house and very helpful. The cost of my panels was $3000. They were cut to the specs of my skectchup modle with window and door openings all tolerences were +/- 1/16th inch. They fit perfectly. Also there was zero jobsite waste from the panels.

Will - May 31, 2012 Reply

Art, once again this was the most informative post using SIPs. I’ve been following your blog since your previous sip response……… just amazed at you excellent planning. Thank you!

EmmaJ - May 31, 2012 Reply

By the way… nice work, Art! I love that couch! What a lovely little home! I like the idea of using the SIPs for framing, then finishing with salvaged materials. As I’ve been thinking about building a tiny house, I really want to use reclaimed materials, but the idea of stockpiling enough stuff to get started is intimidating. Who can say… maybe SIPs are the answer.

Michael - May 31, 2012 Reply

How did you support the loft with SIP walls?

    art - June 1, 2012 Reply

    Hi michael

    You are keen to recognize the issues with attaching framing to sips. The sips.org site has diagrams dealing with all common issues. for my loft joists i cut holes in the interior osb to accept the joists so that each end of the joist is inserted into the wall cavity and supported by the osb. Next my toung and grove cypress supports the joists and my interior walls support the middle of the joists. It is so sturdy i don’t worry about overeating.

Landen S - June 1, 2012 Reply

Hello Art,

I love the house and all of the user friendly features you went with.
I have a couple questions if you have time.
what brand of water heater did you go with and how is it performing for you? also where did you purchase your counter tops and sink from? I love the look it reminds me of a commercial kitchen…just tiny of coarse.

Thanks for sharing.

    art - June 2, 2012 Reply

    Hi
    I have a noritz lp 50, a new modle designed for one shower/ bath. it is lp powered and does require 115 v power supply. Bosch also makes units, some require no electrical power. My counter top was custom made by a local kitchen suppy company.

    art

ron bruce - June 1, 2012 Reply

Love your home.
Thanks for sharing.

liz goertz - June 2, 2012 Reply

Great video, do you have more footage of the build? Did it take a lot less time than framing?

DBArr - June 2, 2012 Reply

I could do this! As long as you let me use screws instead of nails. 😀

Robert - June 2, 2012 Reply

I have been building and towing small houses and gypsy wagons for 15 years. I use standard framing techniques with the exception of hurricane clips and decking screws instead of nails. While the sip panel idea is fine it will be subjected to the same stresses as a conventional structure but will not distribute those stresses as equally.

Michele - June 2, 2012 Reply

I love your home, my family and I also live in a small space. We are doing some fixing up in our trailer and we are in need of a new shower and I saw this one and I like it, can you give me the size of this shower and where to purchase it. We are on a budget.

    art - June 2, 2012 Reply

    Hi michele

    The shower stall i used is a 30″. You can find 32″ stalls at lowes and home depot and can order a 30″. Most plumbing supply houses can also get it for you. If you can find a floor modle that is damaged you may be able to make a deal. The damage to fiberglass stalls can be repaired easily and there may be someone in your area that does repairs. New the 30″ stall was $500

    art

      Michele - June 2, 2012 Reply

      okay thanks!!

        Gary - July 15, 2012 Reply

        If you have a local Habitat For Humanity Re-Store, you might check them for a shower enclosure. Our local Re-Stores always seem to have a few, although they may not be the 30″ shown here. But it’s worth a look!

        Great tiny house, by the way. As mentioned by others, great video as well. I am formulating plans and ideas for my own TH, and will be seeing what materials I can gather through the Re-Stores, off Craigslist, and through the local Freecycle.com groups.

Valerie Sims - June 2, 2012 Reply

Adding to the many positive comments, the house and all of its features are the best I have seen. And the video is a model for others to emulate for its information and visual appeal. You have done well in both areas. Thank you for the education.

Benjamin - June 2, 2012 Reply

How do you get wiring and plumbing into SIPs?

    art - June 3, 2012 Reply

    Hi benjamin

    You can order the panels with wire chases in them at the places you specify. There are methods to add them in the field, check out sip.org for details. They recomend running plumbing through the walls, not in them.

Devon - June 3, 2012 Reply

Hey Art,

I have followed TinyHouseBlog for 4 years now and this story caused me to post my first comment. I live in Lake Charles, LA and had done research on SIPs 2 years ago for a possible project like this. Your layout and reclaiming is superb. I want to do a similar fixed layout in my back yard to use as a guest/accessory dwelling and maybe rental opportunity as being a block from McNeese State. Do you feel a structure like this with SIPs would stand against the storms we get every 3-5 years in a permanent location, or would it be wiser to leave it on a trailer. Thanks for your insight and please post if you head anywhere near southwest LA with your new home in tow.

    art - June 4, 2012 Reply

    Hi devon

    I live in Lafayette and we experience the same huricanes. All the data i found on sips panels is that sips are capible of handling all the building codes for wind loads and are stronger than convetional framing.

Jenn - June 13, 2012 Reply

LOVE THIS!!!!!

Rick Bloom - June 16, 2012 Reply

I am a long time residential builder and shipwright. I am planning to use this concept of SIPS panels and small square footage to build a float house and shop in SE Alaska next year. I’m planning on a little more floor space than this but still in the small house category. It looks to me like you did a good job on yours. I have a few ideas on siding that may be better in the environment mine will be in but probably not practical for your use. I figure I’ll use a waterproof material for 4 feet or so around the base such as sheet metal or maybe fiberglass and then space the siding an inch and a half or so away so that air can easily circulate and carry off the moisture that will certainly get behind the siding.

    art - June 19, 2012 Reply

    Hey Rick

    your project sounds like fun. Think about rhino liner, the stuff they coat truck beds with. It is tough, water and uv proof and easy to repair if needed.

Lisa - June 23, 2012 Reply

This is one of the best tiny homes that I’ve seen. I especially like that you recessed the cooktop and refrigerator into the counter. The custom made countertop will last indefinitely. There is nothing that will shift around if you should move your home. I just love the sofa, its a great option for those who cannot climb the ladder to the loft due to medical issues. Thanks for sharing your beautiful home.

Barry - July 11, 2012 Reply

I’m curious? I’ve seen a lot of these “Tiny Homes”, and was curious why more weight saving materials, such as steel studs and/or vinyl siding aren’t used? I love the beauty of wood. But at $4.00 a gal. here in CA. That could get expensive to drive very far. It seems lighter versions should be possible?

Chris - September 21, 2012 Reply

Is a sips tiny house lighter than it’s equivalent traditional framed tiny house?

Keely Apodoca - November 14, 2012 Reply

home plumbing is quite easy if you just study and get used to its methods.:

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celeste - November 24, 2012 Reply

when can you move out? This house is mine!!! Love it, I need one already built, I don’t know a hammer from a saw 🙂

Jonathan - January 30, 2013 Reply

Howdy! You have me convinced that SIP construction is well worth the time and consideration. I feel confident in assembling the walls and floor for my own project, but I am really curious how you attached the roof to the walls. It has been tickling my brain for some time now. Any input would be fantastic!

Additionally, does anyone know of a supplier of XPS insulation foam boards in Colorado?

Jordie and Kimo McEwen - February 19, 2014 Reply

Hi Art!

We met at the recent workshop in Orlando Feb 8-9. I just wanted to stop by and say hi and that we really enjoyed your and Joes presentation. We have started looking into local SIP companies for our eventual build 🙂 Hope all is well!

Jordie and Kimo

benoit - June 23, 2014 Reply

i’m quebec SIP builder and want the thickness of SIP pannel for floor,wall and roof ?
what is complete weight of your SIP tiny house ?
less than stick frame model?
regards
Ben

Jake - July 3, 2014 Reply

I’ve been wanting to build a mobile tiny house out of SIPs for a while. I would like to use metal SIPs though. Did the SIP manufacturers recommend any additional reinforcements for a mobile structure? Did you consider metal SIPs?

Darby - July 7, 2014 Reply

What about the outgassing issues with the wood they use to sandwich the insulation?
Is it EPS insulation, effectively styrofoam?

Darby - July 7, 2014 Reply

Is the insulation sandwiched between layers of chip board or other formaldehyde outgassing medium? Is it EPS for insulation?

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