Hybrid SIP Aluminum System

When you’re at the computer screen ten hours a day, you sometimes forget about the real world outside. Over the last twenty years this neighborhood has changed. It was earlier this year, someone fired 8 rounds of a 9 mm Lugar outside the house, littering the street with shell casings. That was a really scary night. As the economy has collapsed, families have become extended, and the volume of cars in driveways, in front of houses, and on the street have five fold increased, if not more.

In this environment, the Rosales clan has decided to build an addition. As I’ve been exploring the design over the last 234 days, there’s been a lot of ups and downs, changes, investigation, and game changers. After learning that the City of LA will not allow flexible living quarters, the structure moved from the back of the property to come in contact with the main house. LA requires either 10 feet of continuous roof or 4 feet of common wall to call it an addition in juxtaposition to an accessory building. In an addition, you’re allowed all forms of living quarters except a kitchen. An accessory building cannot have natural gas, hot water, or a sink larger than 1 square feet, to prevent having a granny flats structure.

I had chosen early on to adopt a more robust and user friendly construction technology, in defiance of current common platform building with wood stick construction. I read an interesting article on the history of residential building, and in summary concludes building technology has evolved to incorporate lower quality and inexpensive components, instead of the highest quality old growth wood and timbers of years gone by. Wood engineering is the where the future of construction lies. The addition will not include a single structural tree member, but instead a hybrid of wood fibers or wood strands with resins and adhesives.

Something I explored this week is the combination of engineered wood panels and a lightweight aluminum superstructure. It’s a neat hybrid system using metal where necessary, but the wide open spaces with insulated panels. in fact, a company in Van Nuys, CA has a demonstration unit that I had a chance to walk through and absorb the possibilities. Where my project has stalled is in the ancillary technology to assemble heavy large cumbersome SIP’s, namely renting forklifts, cranes, and heavy material handling equipment that most likely would add $10,000 to the project.

The hybrid metal SIP technology, introduced to the USA with MHS, is still a work in progress, yet to achieve approval in a seismically active area. I thought about building without a permit, but then the City would most likely insist it’s removal, once a complaint from a neighbor came through. I’ve written anyway to the Long Beach CA manufacturer to see how much it would cost and how far they are on their way to ICC acceptance. The SIP structure would most like cost $45,000 installed. the Van Nuys licensee wanted $120,000 or more for their architectural imprimatur.

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