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Hummingbird: Stress-Skin Panels,
Part 1: Getting Started

At left, the House on Hummingbird Hill under construction, at right, a power room with a glass roof Photo of cross-beam being mounted that is also a link to a slideshow

Most houses are built by putting up a frame of lumber to hold up the exterior walls and roof, then adding interior framing to support the plasterboard interior walls. Then insulation is added in the ceiling and walls.

The Weingartens chose a different route for the House on Hummingbird Hill. They had their plans drawn up by an engineer, and a "kit" of stress-skin panels, also known as SIPs (structural insulated panel) was built using those plans. The panels consist of two sheets of a plywood called oriented strand-board, or OSB, with 8-12 inches of foam insulation in between. When assembled, they comprise a super-energy-efficient shell. Think "ice chest." The Weingartens live in an Igloo. The kit comprises numbered panels for each part of the house. Wall panels, floor panels, ceiling panels.

There is no frame. The panels themselves are structural members, with crossbeams for the roof and floor panels. They are fastened to each other with long screws and caulk.

Interior walls still require framing to hold plasterboard and in some cases, insulation, but that's all.

I decided that, because of the number of pictures we had of this process, and the consequent bulkiness and bandwidth burden, to break this section into three parts: Getting Started, Going Up and Completion. Each section has its own slide show of the process.

After Getting Started, comes Going Up ...

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