Tyrer Case Study
Building a Case
The State of Michigan adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to increase air tightness and energy efficiency, ultimately saving homeowners money. The previous code required that blower door testing for new home construction register no more than 7 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50); the new IECC requires no more than 4 ACH50.
Many builders struggle to reach the new standard, but not Paul Tyrer. The 1,400 square foot, one-story home he built near Traverse City, Michigan, with Thermocore Structural Insulated Panels tested at 1.98 ACH50—“much better than the current code requires and twice as good as the [new] code will require,” said Max Strickland of Traverse City’s Strickland Ewing and Associates in the blower door test report. “The builder and subcontractors are to be congratulated for their air sealing efforts. They did an outstanding job.”
Consistently Exceeding Code
Paul spent decades building mostly for General Motors employees and executives before starting Expert Handyman Services, Inc., in Traverse City. Once customers discovered his experience, he found himself building new homes again.
Home built by Paul Tyrer
He started with 2 x 6 construction with cellulose insulation blown into the walls. When Michigan adopted the stricter IECC, he looked for a more energy-efficient method. “With 2 x 6 construction, I can’t get the R-40 of Thermocore SIPs; the max I can do is about R-24,” he said. “Thermocore Structural Insulated Panels are so much tighter.”
Thermocore’s stud-less insulated panels eliminate thermal breaks so Paul—and the inspectors—don’t need to worry about air leakage. “I’m already two times the new code requirements,” Paul said. “Max [Strickland] told me, ‘I won’t have to watch you. Just keep doing what you’re doing.’”
The air tightness of Thermocore Structural Insulated Panels translates into lower utility bills for the life of the house, but many builders and homeowners mistakenly believe that SIPs cost more than traditional construction. According to Paul, “There was no added cost to using Thermocore structural insulated panels.”
In addition, owners of SIPs homes benefit when they sell. In the report for the blower door test, Max told Paul, “Encourage the homeowner to retain [the results of the blower door test], as tight homes are beginning to have value in the marketplace because everyone agrees they’re less expensive to operate and more comfortable to live in.”
With Thermocore SIPs, Paul also enjoys the speed of construction. On a 4,400 square foot Traverse City home, “From the time the semi arrived to all the walls being up, it took only two days and it was ready for trusses,” he said. “That would take two weeks with 2 x 6 construction. Thermocore SIPs go together nice and easy.”
The carpenter agreed.
“He said the SIPs saved 10 days of labor, in addition to all the clean-up and waste from stick building,” Paul shared.
In all of Paul’s projects, once the Structural Insulated Panels are in place, “We can work year-round because it’s already insulated,” he said. “Even in the rough stage, the guys can work through bitter cold because the winds aren’t blowing through a hollow shell. We put a space heater in there and they can start framing and interior work because it’s already sealed up.”