O’Connor/Brehm Case Study
Building a Case
When Pat O’Connor of O’Connor Brehm Design-Build in Park Ridge, Illinois, built his own vacation home near Traverse City, Michigan, he chose Thermocore SIPs to conserve energy. “We’ve saved at least 30 percent on heating bills every month,” he said. Then when Pat and his business partner, Greg Brehm of Brehm Architects, designed and built homes for two clients on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, they again chose the air-tightness of Thermocore insulated wall panels to withstand the blustery winds.
Energy Efficient—Occupied or Not
Pat built his 6,000 square-foot vacation home three years ago. When the family isn’t around, the heat stays at 55 degrees. “After we get there, it doesn’t take long to get the house heated,” Pat said.
With the SIPs envelope of insulated wall and roof panels, “It maintains an even temperature throughout the house”added Greg, who designed the home. “In a stick-frame home, you might have a pocket that gets really cold and end up with a frozen pipe. In this house, that’s not a danger.”
The cost of heating and air conditioning the home totaled just $1,400 last year, much less than a traditionally built home, Pat said.
Withstanding Mother Nature
Pat’s home was just the first the business partners designed with Thermocore SIPs. When two clients wanted to build homes overlooking Lake Michigan on a bluff with gusting lake winds, Pat and Greg recommended Thermocore insulated wall panels.
“Energy efficiency is the big thing,” Greg said, “but we also like how tight and quiet SIPs houses are. They’re much tighter than stick-frame construction, with no air infiltration—even with the strong winds.”
The first house is 4,000 square feet and the second 5,500 square feet. Both serve as vacation homes in South Haven, Michigan.
“They’re not houses that will be occupied year-round, so having something that can sit there and be energy-sustainable when you’re not around is a good thing,” Greg said.
Extra Touches with SIPs
When building with Thermocore SIPs, “There are obvious advantages from an insulation standpoint, but there are also a lot of good, green elements,” Greg said. “All three homes are very custom, built-from-scratch type houses and the SIPs fit very well. We had no waste. The work we put in ahead of time pays off.”
As the builder, Pat said, “The houses go up faster with Thermocore SIPs because the insulation is there and the electric sockets are already in the outside walls. In addition, the walls are stronger and more sound than a stick-frame house. Lumber that sits out in the rain starts warping, but Thermocore insulated wall panels are always straight. I just think it’s a superior product.”
Thermocore SIPs also streamline interior work, he said. “When you hang cabinets— or anything else—on the outside walls, you don’t have to find studs, so you can hang them faster and easier.”
Pat also appreciates Thermocore’s customer service. “They do a nice job with the engineering of the insulated panels,” he said. “If there’s ever a problem—even if the panel turned out the size it’s supposed to be and then we needed something different—Thermocore is very easy to work with as a company.”