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Problems With SIPs


Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
A SIP is a composite panel, consisting of a thick insulating layer of rigid core foam, sandwiched between two layers of OSB woodfibre board, which is used as a building material for walls, floors and roof structures. Some of the arguments for building with SIPS include:
  • Faster construction
  • Cheaper pricing
  • Factory Quality
  • Improved U-Values. 


Should you use SIPS on your new Garden Room Office?

When we first started manufacturing garden buildings we looked at SIPs in great detail. Being open to any new technology and innovation, we compared the pros and cons of SIPs compared to Traditional methods of construction, after all some of the large U.K. House Builders use them, so the thought was that they must be good.
Here is what the process taught us about SIPS.
: The biggest advantage in using SIPs is mainly an installers advantage due to the time saved on-site. Think about it - if the company can install in 3 days instead of say 7, that’s a massive increase in productivity and thereby, profit. The team using SIPs has started a second installation before the company using Traditional methods has finished their first..! Conclusion: Big advantages to installers, but little advantage to the customer, other than the installers have come and gone a few days earlier.
: There are a number of SIPS panel suppliers around the UK, however most of these are large suppliers feeding the big builders. They are certainly cheaper to produce than a Traditional method so manufacturers of garden rooms and offices love them as they are able to offer competitive pricing or make bigger profit margins. Conclusion: Big profit advantage to the installer or possibly cheaper prices for the customer.
  3. SIPs & SITE ACCESS: SIPs panels are large, typically at least 8’ x 4’ so access to site needs to be sufficient to get these components to the build location. Getting into tight spaces is sometimes impossible with these large panels. Conclusion: Some customers may not have sufficient site access for a SIPs built structure.
:  Another advantage in using SIPs is that you do not need a highly skilled workforce to erect them. Very often a company will use low-skilled foreign sub-contractors for the installation. This saves the installer more money as this type of labour is much cheaper than time-served UK carpenters. Conclusion: Again the installers big advantage is in being able to use cheaper, unskilled workers to erect them rather than time-served tradesmen, making a bigger profit in the process.
: SIPs can work well when a building is designed to standard panel sizes so that orders placed with the manufacturing factory can be mass produced. This maximises factory efficiency but limits the overall design flexibility. Big factories don’t like small quantities of bespoke sizes. Prices and lead times increase. Conclusion: Standardised sizes will be pushed during the sale process and the customer persuaded that bespoke sizes will be much more expensive.
SIPs panels should not be allowed to get wet during construction because if water gets into the panels the moisture has no way to escape from the composite structure. This can build-in the problem of mould. Mould in any timber structure is a massive problem, but in a SIPS building it is unfix-able. Mould is also a serious health issue, and can significantly impact the well being of occupants. By contrast, in a Traditional timber framed wall, the structure is allowed to breathe, so the timbers can dry out even if moisture does get in during installation. Conclusion: SIPs built structures should not be erected during inclement weather, or they should be weather protected, due to the high risk of rainwater saturation becoming ‘locked-in’, resulting in mould propagation and subsequent structural rot.
: This is the biggest issue with building a garden room or office using SIP panels - it's so airtight that it becomes a sealed coffin. Yes, its got slightly better U-values (not that you'd notice the difference). But it can’t breathe, and neither can you. Yes, the large Housebuilders have in recent years started using SIPs, but they are subject to Building Regulations and must make their structures breathable using complex mechanical air flow & air replenishment systems. This is unrealistic in a garden room, these devices are too big, too complex and too costly to install. So moist air will just linger, and migrate into your plasterboard, creating long term mould issues. Some companies say they solve this problem by fitting an extractor fan in the wall and by providing an opening window. The only way this works is by leaving the window open, even in freezing winter..! Conclusion: Unless effective mechanical ventilation systems are installed (almost impossible in a garden room), in our opinion SIPs panels are not suitable for building garden rooms
So to summarise; companies supplying garden rooms will try to convince you that SIPs are a great idea due to their superior technical advantages. The truth is that the main advantages belong to the installer - quicker build times and low skilled labour, resulting in higher profits. Yes, they are marginally warmer than a Traditional timber structure, but in truth, not enough for you to notice.
But they will not mention the crucial disadvantage, the fact that they do not ‘breathe’. It’s a sealed box and, unless its ventilated, it could get very uncomfortable to work in as well as suffering the long-term problems mentioned with moist air and mould growth.
For the above reasons Rubicon rejected SIP based manufacturing early on in favour of the Traditional timber frame construction methods. These methods can take a little longer and require a more skilled workforce. But they have been proven over many decades, and crucially the resultant structures allow the timber frames to breathe (when built with correct membranes and venting techniques), whilst SIPs structures don’t. Our garden rooms and offices are designed and engineered to avoid the build up of mould and moisture over time, and we can still achieve similar levels of insulated U-Values and excellent air tightness far more reliably than you can with SIPS.
Think about it - given the above mentioned installer advantages, if we don’t think SIPs panels are suitable for building garden rooms or offices, why would you?
We primarily operate across the Chester, Cheshire, Mold, Buckley, Wrexham, Rossett, Wirral, Deeside, Flintshire, Denbighshire, North Wales, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Conway, Manchester, Stockport, Altrincham, Macclesfield, Lancashire, Liverpool, St Helens, Warrington, Birkenhead, West Kirby, Ellesmere Port, North West, Prestbury, Crewe, Nantwich, Preston, Malpas, Frodsham, Helsby, Heswall, Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, and Shropshire areas, but welcome enquiries from other areas within 70 miles of our Deeside base.

What our Customers Say

"Please convey my thanks to everyone and we were very touched at your kindness. You were all an absolute pleasure to have around and it felt very quiet without you!! We are absolutely thrilled with the Garden Room and have now painted the walls and ceiling and the laminate wood flooring and skirting boards are being fitted tomorrow. Once the skirting boards are painted we can move in the furniture and will be like pigs in muck!!! Many, many thanks once again, we are absolutely delighted with our Garden Room. After you left Heather sat on the decking with a glass of wine, this is the life! Take care and you all have a safe journey tomorrow. Thank you once again."

Andrew and Heather - Ruthin, N.Wales

“We did an awful lot of research and found Rubicon online. We drove across to Deeside to have a look at their showroom, and all the different examples on display. We liked managing director John Lyon a lot and his approach gave us confidence to start the process. All in all, it took a couple of months from deciding that we would have a Garden Office until the team arrived on site as they were very busy and we needed to book a delivery slot well in advance. Then they were here for about three weeks for the installation which included drainage and water supplies for a toilet and mini kitchen. The team were lovely guys – no nonsense and very diligent, polite, hard-working people. Dave likes to cook a bit – mainly cakes and pastries – so he baked things for them, which always helps to keep the team happy..! We now have a beautiful extra Garden Office room, which Dave uses when he’s working at home. He has a 30 second walk to work in the morning, and it means we are no longer in the way of each other. I believe that the building is also a thing of great beauty and I would absolutely recommend Rubicon to anyone considering something similar.”

David and Rachel - Manchester

"We trawled through the internet and Rubicon sounded like the best bet for what we were after. We made an appointment and went down to the showroom on Deeside. There we met Managing Director John, spent time looking at the different examples on show and examining the products, and then had a good chat about what we needed. We never felt rushed or pressurised, and had time to think about what we wanted - his whole manner makes him such a good person to deal with. We felt that we were getting a good product. What Rubicon offered was perfect for what we wanted and, once we started the process with them, the work was done in just two to three weeks. The team turned up every day at the time John said they would, and were polite and very easy to get along with. Having them here working in the garden was no trouble at all and I would recommend Rubicon without a doubt - in fact some of the neighbours have already been round to see it and ask where we got it. I can say hand on heart that John and his the team from Rubicon were the nicest people we have ever had work for us."

Dennis and Val - Stockport

"Dear John, Thank you very much, all very professional from your company throughout the construction and installation. I cannot find anything, but if there is somewhere where I can place a review or recommendation on your web site I will be pleased to do so. Please just send me a link. As and when the garden, now under snow is complete, I will forward some photos, probably June the way the weather is. I have received a letter from Flintshire County Council asking for me to comment on your services. Just to let you know that I am returning it, highly recommending your company. All the very best to you and your company in the future. We are really pleased with our Garden Room and I would not hesitate in recommending you to any future customers. Just ask them to call me."

Mick and Barbara - Burnley

“I love my new garden room. Got to say this was one of the most enjoyable experiences of dealing with a company ive had for a long time. Finish is fab inside and out, its made such a difference, we use it all the time. Jake our son, won’t come out of there. Can’t thank John and his team enough of a great product at a great price….Thank you, etc etc.!”

Gill and Ben Henderson, Warrington

"We wanted to get a Garden Room that David could use as a separate office that was peaceful and quiet when he’s working from home. We liked what we saw at Rubicon’s showroom in Deeside straight away, and got on very well with the MD John Lyon – he immediately gave us the confidence that he would deliver what he promised, and he did. We took one of their standard Garden Offices and adapted it so that it would work for us, and nothing we suggested was a problem for Rubicon – they were really good to work with. They kept me posted all the time about what was going on, what stage they were at and who would be coming and what they would be doing the next day. They tidied up after themselves too, and really minimised any inconvenience. What was very important to me as well was that we had my elderly father staying with us at the time, he was 85, and they were so very respectful to him. Everyone from the young apprentice to the seasoned builders treated him brilliantly and talked to him about what they were doing every day while I was out at work. The Garden Office is lovely and warm as it’s fully heated, and so can be used all year round. I would most definitely recommend Rubicon Garden Rooms to anyone."

David and Kate - Frodsham

“Rubicon’s extension been fantastic, and it has really changed Ray’s life. It’s very warm and fully insulated, light and comfortable - it is easy to look after. We can get Ray in and out of bed and into his wheelchair much more easily, and it means that he has somewhere to go that’s his, for some quiet time. He loves sitting by the big window watching the birds and wildlife, or enjoying the views of the garden. The extension is very well made and went up quickly, and has changed our life. It means Ray has somewhere to sit, and we haven’t lost our lounge. When our three grandchildren come round, they love to go into his room and see him. I can’t thank Rubicon enough for the help their team have given us, they have been brilliant."

Ray and Josie - Mancot

“We had been looking for something to fill a big space at the bottom of our garden for some time and then Pat heard about a local Garden Room company through our friends at the golf club who had had one built for them. We went to have a look and were very impressed so contacted Rubicon for more details. I must admit that when we saw the showroom model we were so impressed that all logic went out of the window - we didn’t even consider the alternatives until after we had paid our deposit - not our normal way of doing things. But we needn’t have worried. I researched the internet and the price we had been quoted for what we had fitted represented excellent value for money. We could not be happier with our choice now and would like to thank Bill and Alan for doing such a great job - always smiling and nothing was too much trouble. We would highly recommend Rubicon Garden Rooms and are are actively passing on the message amongst family and friends. Good luck for the future”

Cliff and Pat Lovell, Llandudno

"Hi John, Just got back from a couple of days in London. I can confirm that invoice has arrived and has been paid. Many thanks for ALL your work. At our little garden party last Sunday all commented on the new Garden Studio - and one chap has examined it thoroughly (!!) and will contact you to arrange one for himself. All like the grey!! Hope you have a lovely Christmas, and hope we can keep in touch. Best wishes. PS Jan will send you photos with some plants in front!"

Stephen and Jan - Hawarden, Nr Chester

“This company may not be the biggest but they are surely the best. I drove my wife mad in my research for a building to run our business from after out-growing the spare bedroom I wanted something which could provide a distinct break between home live and work. To be frank there were not many companies within our locality, most of those i found were based down south and I wanted someone more local that I could put a face to ( and shout at if i needed!). A friend of mine had had some building work done recently and recommended I talk to them to see what they could do as he thought they also made garden offices. Best decision I ever made was to contact Rubicon the whole team are so professional and the product is fantastic. No complaints whatsoever apart from it did take a bit longer than I thought it would as they were very busy at the time. But the end result has been a triumph, exactly what I wanted at a competitive price and when i look at what i have saved by not renting an office it’s a no brainer…”

Phil Grayson, Northwich

"I saw Rubicon Garden Rooms online and wanted to find something that was nearby so that I could go and see what they were doing and talk to people face-to-face about it. I went along to the showroom in Deeside and I was very impressed with what I saw, and with the Managing Director John Lyon. I nearly ordered a conservatory but changed my mind at the last minute when I realised that one of these Garden Rooms would be nicer and much more use to me all year round. It was quite an investment so I took some time to think about it but eventually I decided to go for it and treat myself, as I was still working but also had my pension coming in. I went back for another chat and told them what I wanted and they just came and did it. They knocked down the old lean-to and started again and created this lovely room, leading on from my main living area. Rubicon Garden Rooms were just lovely to work with and did everything I asked. From the very beginning they gave me good advice and guidance and made it a really easy process throughout – I’d definitely recommend them to anybody else looking to extend their home simply and quickly."

Beryl - Talacre, N.Wales

"One of our disabled tenants required access to ground floor facilities, including a bedroom and bathroom. This need was urgent, so instead of a traditional build, which would be highly disruptive to the tenant, we approached Rubicon Garden Rooms who provided a high quality Garden Room attached to the property, which has the potential to be reused elsewhere in the future. We were delighted that Rubicon were able to quickly provide this essential modification to the property that met the council's rigorous standards for such work."

Cllr Helen Brown - Flintshire County Council

“We did quite a bit of research into companies that make them and chose Rubicon Garden Room as we thought a synthetic material would last better and we liked their range. Here in the Garden Room I can switch the laptop on and keep up with conference calls at any time, which is important as we have manufacturers in America and the Far East. Having this Rubicon room just gives us a bit extra space and lets me get away from the house when I need to. Their team were great, they cleared up after themselves every day and I couldn’t fault them at all. We’re very happy with what we’ve got, it’s a perfect, self-contained space with everything we need. and it makes a huge difference to my work-life balance.”

Nick and Paula - Halifax

"We had an office on a local business park, but being able to move into our own premises here has been a wise business move. We've got the perfect, self-contained space with everything we need. We can now open our French doors and have lunch on the patio in a lovely established garden, which is something most people would love. We did a lot of research and found that the prices were all very similar,” said Julian. “But what we liked about Rubicon was the fact that we could go and see their factory in Deeside and the examples they had on show. We also visited a few completed buildings and talked to the owners and we heard nothing but positive feedback so we decided to go with them. Most of the structure is prefabricated at Rubicon’s base and then they come and slot it together on site. They were great to work with – they were all very competent and everything I asked of John and his team, they delivered."

Julian and Kerry - Wirral

"Hi John, Hope you have enjoyed your weekend! Building is brilliant, we are extremely pleased with it, plaster is drying out nicely. I have sent over the last payment to your bank this evening.....On behalf of Clare & myself, I would like to thank You and the build team (Buster,Lee,Martin, Liam, Kurt & Dad), and not forgetting the window guys... for all your hard work and excellent eye to detail on our lovely pool room! Will let you know when everything is completed and you are welcome to visit with your Marketing PR person if you need any further photo’s. Look forward to meeting up for a cuppa soon :)"

Colin and Clare - Leicester

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