Electrical and SIPs


Rob our electrician has been patiently drilling away into our SIPs panels - this is one of the numerous challenges that brings into question the efficiency of the SIPs process.  Even with the pre-cut chases, at every corner and from wall to ceiling, in many cases Rob has had to cut out access holes to get at and pull the wires.

We had more visitors at the site on Friday (from two great local architecture firms Studiotrope and Insitu), and they spoke of a SIPs process where electrical conduit and boxes are installed as part of the fabrication process vs. in the field.  I guess if you can coordinate everything down to the last 1/2”, it would be advantageous to do it this way.

If you are building with SIPs, make sure your installers place the panels at the intended interior/exterior orientation, and that each corner is drilled out for continuous chase access.  Also, make sure each chase is well marked.  We had a few panels that are square and symmetrical which were installed backwards - an easy mistake to make, but it has created confusion when trying to pull wires, because the chase marks are no longer visible.

Permit drawing set submitted!

Nancy and I submitted the plans to the City of Denver Building Department on August 14.  We are relieved and very happy to have reached this milestone after nearly a year of work.  We would like to thank Joe and Jason at KL&A for a great structural set, Julie and Judy at the Brendle Group for lots of assistance on energy analysis and mechanical specifications, Ron at CO Engineering for the surveys, and Mike at CO Geoscience for the soils and shoring report.  We will keep our fingers crossed that the plans will make it through without any major hiccups.

We have selected Curtis Welch for the contractor on the project and are excited that we will be using SIPs for the exterior walls (Structural Insulated Panels).  He brings valuable experience with this type of construction to the project, in that he is one of the few in Denver who has actually built projects using them!



We will be using SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) for the exterior and roof of the house. Although the cost is a bit more than conventional framing and cellulose insulation, the benefits are numerous: Increased insulating value with foam, straight and plumb walls (presumably), and reduced waste. Unfortunately, however, you cannot use recessed cans in the roof panels at the 2nd floor level, so we’ll make some adjustments to the original lighting scheme.

Note: For information on SIPs, visit

Contractor Selection

A big day for us - we’ve made the decision on which contractor to use for our project.  It’s been a challenging process, as the final three were all very qualified, and some had experience in areas that we valued a lot.

Ultimately, the one with extensive SIPs experience won out, in that he is comfortable with them, and will not be charging us a significant premium for framing all the exterior walls with them.  It’s amazing how many contractors in the Denver area do not even know what SIPs are!

Many of the custom home-builders are charging a premium for their services in Denver.  Even though the market as a whole may be slowing, custom outfits in the metro area still aren’t hungry yet.

We are very happy to have made this milestone, and now the focus is on getting the permit set into the city and the project started ASAP!

Boulder Solar Home Tour

Boulder is known for it’s tenacious commitment to sustainability at all levels. From government all the way down to the single family house, recycling, energy conservation, etc. is paramount. We were excited when the flyer came via e-mail that they hold a solar and green home tour each year. However, after asking around, we were forewarned that even though the technologies used might be highly advanced, we should not count on any great modern design being a part of it! Luckily, the first house we hit was done by a cool Boulder Firm called Vast. Using SIPS and a solar water panel heating system combined with great space layout and design, this kept us intrigued for the better part of an hour. The other three houses were “design challenged” and not particularly inspirational.

Boulder Solar and Green Home Tour Site: Center for Resource Conservation