Enviro Custom Homes
Featured Custom Homes

Enviro Custom Homes - Web site  EnviroCustomHomes.net

Sustainable-Energy Efficient Custom Homes

Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Area  |  972-418-7772


Enviro Custom Homes
Richard Harwood
2718 Wagonwheel Drive
Carrollton, TX  75006




The Homan House


Winner of the 2002 Energy Value in Housing Award, this 4307 sq. ft. home built of structural insulated panels is featured in the January, 2002, issue of Builder Magazine, pages 194 to 200. The article, entitled "Green Streaming," begins with a two-page color picture of the east-facing, complex French country Homan House set on a heavily wooded lot. Among its most serious challenges was convincing the owners that their dual desires for both solar electric and solar water heating would not conflict with the French country style.

The finished house included an indoor Endless swimming pool, two KW of photovoltaics (Solar electric), a solar thermal system, 5.5. Tons of geothermal heat pump, Low-E, argon-filled vinyl windows, and an air-to-air heat exchanger. Roofing was composition except for galvalume (metal) on the south and part of the west side to allow "stick-on" Unisolar panels to be used and rainwater to be collected. This page will focus only on the structural insulated panel construction process and the finished exterior.

The structural insulated panels arrive at the heavily wooded lot by truck. Wall panels are 4 1/2" thick. (Studies at the Oak Ridge National Lab showed that these panels performed better than a standard "stick-built" 6" wall filled with insulation. Ceiling panels are 8 1/4" thick. The pieces are cut exactly to fit the architect's drawing and delivered to the site in pieces with panel assembly with numbers and a layout plan showing how to put them together.

Panels are manufactured with 1/2" oriented strand board (OSB) forming the exterior sides of a "Sandwich" of expanded polystyrene. All panel joints are foamed and glued as they are attached to each other and to the foundation.

Caulking is also used on the adjoining panel to be inserted into the first panel.

Panels then are carefully slid together, insuring a complete insertion and very tight fit.

A panel pull start is used to pull panels tightly together. A structural insulated panel house, properly built, is a virtual "ice chest," very air-tight construction. This prevents the leaks in homes built with frame construction and because the home is tightly sealed, it requires introduction of artificial ventilation through an air-to-air heat exchanger that retains the heating of cooling while exhausting stale air and bringing in fresh air at exactly .3 air changes per hour.
This view, taken from the hillside above, shows construction half-way through the first floor. The house is on an inner city lot with the back half a heavily wooded 50" incline.

Panels for the second story arrive after completion of the first floor.

Normally, structural insulated panels are craned into place; however, because of the tree-cover, and the desire to save every tree that was not within the actual construction site, a crane could not be used. Workmen hoisted them up with hand-built ramps.

To form the exterior finish, 30 lb. felt paper was attached to the structural insulated panels, then a wire mesh was nailed to that. Two coats of hard-coat (cement) stucco were added. A third coat allowed imprinting of the artistic "stone pattern" on the front.

The south-facing galvalume roof is home for 2 KW of Unisolar photovoltaics and a solar thermal (hot water) system.


Read more about:    Homan House→    Abbott House→    Westbrook House→