Weather Protection for SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels)

SIPs are manufactured from 3 basic components. These components are Exposure I Rated oriented strand board (OSB) for the outer faces, an Expanded Polystyrene foam core, and a crosslinked structural rated adhesive. The EPS core and the adhesives are capable of withstanding long term exposure to moisture. However, the exposure to moisture for the OSB is a key item with respect to the durability of a SIP.

The Exposure I Rated OSB is designed for limited exposure to moisture that can occur during construction, but SIPs must be covered during storage to protect from exposure to rain, snow and other elements. After installation, the SIPs should be covered with a secondary weather resistive system as soon as possible. This is required to protect the OSB from exposure to moisture long term. The installation of SIPs and the secondary weather resistive system should not occur during periods of heavy rain.

Installation details must ensure that the OSB facings and other wood components of the SIP construction are not subjected to moisture over the life of the structure. Moisture exposure could be exterior by means of bulk water making its way through the siding system or from the interior of the structure in the form of water vapor. In order to manage these potential sources of moisture, proper detailing must be accomplished.

These key detailing considerations help achieve the long term durability SIPs:

1. Application of manufacturer approved sealant at panel joints. Sealant must always be installed in a sufficient amount and applied in a continuous unbroken fashion.

2. Proper use of SIP Tape or vapor retarders as required. Selection and placement is dependent upon building use and climate conditions.

3. Proper use of code recognized exterior weather resistive systems which must include both a primary and secondary system. The cladding must provide a rain screen design which provides an avenue for water that penetrates the primary weather resistive system to drain from the wall. The cladding must be installed over a secondary system that is rated as weather resistant, such as building paper or house wrap products (i.e. Tyvek, housewrap, etc.).

4. Proper flashing and detailing of all window openings and penetrations. Ensure that the detailing of openings is consistent with forming a drainage plane which works in conjunction with the exterior weather resistive system.

Building Column Line Staking

Building column line staking is an integral part of constructing a building. It ensures builders that the structure that are constructing is built in the correct place and that the columns are placed exactly where they were designed to be placed. Any type of construction staking is done specifically by professional land surveyors to make sure that improvements are built in the right area based on the site plan and engineering plans. What happens is that the surveyor uses structural or architectural plans to mark where the columns and other features will be built, marks the dimensions and sizes, and then allows the construction crew to build the improvements at the location without worry of whether things will be in the right place or not.

Surveyors do a lot of different projects on a construction job, but building column line staking is critical since columns are typically a support structure for the property. Being able to mark an entire line that is level and straight for the construction of the columns will allow the builder to ensure that everything is right where it needs to be based on the site plan and for the sake of structural integrity, which is critical in the building and construction process. It is always in the best interest of the construction company or builder to rely on a professional land surveyor for the staking process.

A qualified professional land surveyor has an advantage because they can interpret the plans and then layout the site with temporary markers to fit the goals of the builder, engineers, or architect. The builder will be able to trust that the building column line staking is correct and that everything can continue to be built accurately and reliably because the land surveyor has taken the time to mark everything for the construction crew. Staking, especially column lines, is critical because it requires a coordination of the information provided in a boundary and topographic survey and what is engineered in order to make sure that the site plan matches the actual property built.

Building column line staking is not the only type of staking done. While this will ensure that columns are constructed evenly and at the right distances, there are other types of staking in a construction build. For example, mass grading, curb, fences, storm drains, sanitary sewer lines, utilities, building offsets, sidewalks, roads and even parking lots require staking to ensure that they are all in the right places and that the construction crew can work around them or perform their job correctly. In all cases construction staking should be performed by a licensed professional land surveyor.

Typically all the infrastructure staking is done first and then when the site is properly prepared the professional land surveyor will begin staking column lines. The professional land surveyor will utilize the dimensions and controls of the property to find the exact locations for staking that aids the building process. This combined with accurate engineering, structural and architectural drawings will provide for a painless construction process.

Church Design Tidbits: Balconies and Landscaping

In this article, we will be giving some design tidbits for two unrelated, but important, features of your church project: balcony seating and landscaping.

Balcony Seating

When properly designed, balcony seating has some benefits worth considering. Balconies can solve the problem of future expansion as the congregation grows and can enable a church with limited land to expand “up” rather than “out”. In fan-shaped sanctuaries a balcony can increase the seating by almost 50%. A future balcony should be master-planned from the start with the major structure completed during the sanctuary construction. A removable wall can temporarily hide this unfinished space.

Many people assume that a balcony is always an inexpensive and smart way to expand. However, the floor system, structural framing, riser framing, handrails and multiple stairways are an additional expense not incurred when seating on the main level. The primary problem with balcony seating, however, is often not related to construction costs. Many people complain of feeling like spectators when sitting in a balcony, and balconies often do not provide good visibility of, or easy access to, the altar area. Furthermore, it’s simply difficult to see someone’s face beyond about 65 feet. Since the sight-line is downward, balcony handrails and the person in the row ahead often block the view as well. Problems related to the seats under the balcony may include columns, low ceilings and poor sound or lighting.

Some elements of good design include stairs or stadium seating on the sides with easy access to the main floor, two steps per row for added visibility, high-back pews to alleviate the fear of falling forward, glass or narrow rails in the upper half of balcony walls, and large-screen video monitors or projection screens.


While landscaping can add immensely to the value, beauty and comfort of a church site, most architectural firms do not provide detailed landscaping design in their scope of services unless specifically requested by the owner. Many jurisdictions will require a rudimentary landscaping plan consisting of a site plan indicating the location, type and size of new and existing trees and shrubs, areas of sod and mulch, as well as an erosion control plan. It is now common for permit authorities to require landscaping islands in the parking areas based upon the amount of pavement. These islands are usually located at the ends of parking rows. Landscaping islands, however, can become an impediment to snow removal. In transition yards (a green area separating the church parking lot or buildings from adjoining residential or commercial property) a screen of trees and shrubs is also often required by permit authorities.

Deciduous trees on the south and west of the building will shade and cool the church in summer yet let warming sunlight through the bare branches in winter. The church should select hardy plant types that require little maintenance. Keep in mind that the little shrubs being planted may quickly grow too large for their placement near parking spaces, sidewalks, and buildings.

The church should consider the benefits of good landscaping design. A knowledgeable landscape architect can be hired to develop a master plan for landscaping that can be developed over time as funds become available.

MEP Drawing Services Play a Crucial Role in the AEC World

MEP drawings play a significant role in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry. 2d and 3D MEP diagrams help to plan projects in a perfect way depicting the exact location of all fixtures, switches and controls for electrical distribution. Moreover, 2d MEP drawings provide the details of elements in an HVAC system, including ducting, venting and other equipment. Besides, waste lines, plumbing supply, fixtures and valves are represented in the sketches.

If you are looking for 2D MEP drawing services, contact a team of proficient engineers who could assist you in producing coordinated shop drawings. You may also appoint a BIM service provider who can help you get construction documents from the information provided into the models. BIM Models represent the most detailed illustrations, showing every component with technical info.

Often 2D MEP drawings are released with information about the floor plans with system sizes for scaling, schematic illustration for ensuring service continuity with design intent and also Riser sizes with branch connections. In addition, enlarged illustrations containing specific installation details and equipment schedule mock-ups are available from the sketches. Furthermore, penetration sketches or block out diagrams containing structural openings are coordinated with Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing requirements.

When various systems are required to be installed, the MEP coordinated diagrams ensure that every contractor gets a place for his system. The coordinated 2D and 3D MEP drawings match up the requirement of every system installer for ensuring that everything is installed in a proper manner. This provides a clear action plan for every system contractor and lets the contractors prevent problems arising during construction. The 2D and 3D MEP diagrams are also used for prefabricated components such as elevators, trusses, windows, steel, cabinets, mill-work, appliances and air handling units required by the MEP contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and fabricators.

MEP drawings are also called shop drawings that include the drawn version of info in the construction document. As a result of which, shop drawings provide more information compared to the construction documents. MEP shop drawings focusing on a specific product offer a different style than architectural drawings. There are various utilities of MEP shop drawings, including technical diagrams of electrical components, composite sketches, underground coordination, above-ceiling coordination, sheet metal & pipe fabrication diagrams, HVAC & duct work drawings and several others.

It’s of no doubt that the MEP shop drawings are now a part and parcel of the construction industry. Nowadays, most of the construction firms make use of Building Information Modeling services. This is because BIM helps to save time and cost of construction. Coordinated 2D MEP shop drawings improve the quality of construction and also its productivity through improved off-site fabrication, better plans and well-informed team. Effective coordination diagrams help to identify the potential problems before fabrication or installation on the construction site. This helps in viewing the building project as a whole rather than as separate sketches.

So why are you waiting for? Opt for 2d MEP shop drawings or 3D Electrical Shop Drawings and save 50% of your construction cost. Choose the leading BIM service provider and improve your delivery schedule by 40%. This would decrease the money and time spent on your project and would improve your project outcome.

5 Books Every Condo Conversion Investor Should Read

Venturing into the wonderful world of condo conversions and real estate investing requires a lot of education and learning. One of the most recommended ways to acquire the information you need is to read books that have been written by those who have been through the experience and have plenty of knowledge and insight to share. If you are the entrepreneurial sort, this is not likely a new concept for you, because as you probably already know, the best way to be successful is to do what other successful people are already doing. Here are the 5 books you must read to help guide you through your condo conversion journey.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Commercial Real Estate Investing

by Stuart Leland Rider

This book, now in its third edition has a wealth of information for the individual who is totally new to real estate investment. It has been recently updated to include current information on commercial real estate trends. It does include several pages on condo conversion information specifically, but the bulk of the information is concerned with general details of investment. The coverage of the topic is very thorough and the book has received good reviews as a resource and learning tool.

How to Make Money in Commercial Real Estate for the Small Investor

by Nicholas Masters

Another superb resource for the novice investor, this book too covers all aspects of both commercial and residential investing. While there is very little coverage of condo conversion specifically, it does provide great information on acquiring and evaluating apartment buildings and similar complexes that are the kinds of properties most often used for converting.

Purchase, Rehab, and Reposition Commercial Investment Property

by Michael H. Zaransky

While this book has received less than wonderful reviews for its information on real estate investing in general, it does contain more specific information regarding condo conversions. There are useful samples of condo conversion purchase agreements, profit and loss statements, as well as personal examples of condo conversion experiences that include rehabs of small buildings, multifamily buildings as well as a hotel to condo conversion.

What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know about Cash Flow…and 36 Other Key Financial Measures

by Frank Gallinelli

This book focuses on all the financial information you need to know to be a successful real estate investor. You will find invaluable information on evaluating properties for investment and determining a property’s potential return on investment. There are plenty of forms and templates to download and use.

How to Buy and Sell Apartment Buildings

by Eugene E. Vollucci

And finally, here is a book that will be most useful in your search for just the right apartment buildings to buy for a profitable condo conversion. This book covers many general real estate investment issues as well, but focuses mainly on the best ways to acquire apartment properties and make money on the deal.