Lifting SIPs

December 2, 2006

Dump ’em, stage ‘em, stack ‘em.  Lift, tilt, or tackle em. Whatever way you do it, the reality is that moving SIPs around the job site efficiently and safely is crucial to a successful install.

a crane makes it easy

At the school we had the advantage of extra bodies. More people than you would ever need.

where’s waldo?

We also got certified to use a Class 1 forklift.


Cobb took this picture of me after I completed my certification test.

Do you need to get a crane like this?

Lloyd’s crane

Or will a fork lift do it?

A four-wheel-drive forklift will go a long way on most job sites. But an important thing to remember is that if the lift is undersized, it’s less versatile during staging and preassembly, and ultimately the install might take longer. If it runs over by a day, it might have been better to spring for a bigger lift and get the job done faster.

There are a lot of site specific variables, but basically the professional builders at the school were in two camps; those that like to do as much preassembly as possible and therefore had more demand for bigger equipment.  And there were those that like to put up one panel at a time and make adjustments along the way. In the end, it came down to what people felt most comfortable with.

I felt pretty comfortable sitting in the driver’s seat of the big crane

 crane cab

There are a few ways to attach the panels.

One way is to simply wrap the strap around the panel. This is used to get stacks of panels off the truck but won’t work for install because the straps get in the way when it’s time to fit the panels together.

The most common method is to attach a plate to the skin.


We used this method both to stand walls.

plate lift

And to fly in roof panels.

panel with plate

Peter Bergford, who is a builder in Olympia Washington, said he uses his CAD program to pinpoint exactly where to locate the plates so the panel hangs at the right roof pitch.

Hooks are the other way to fly.

And they are fast. Just stab them in…


and let ‘er rip.

flying with hooks

Not exactly. Cobb makes his own hooks and also sells them at $500 for a set a four with straps. Each panel gets four hooks, two long and two short, oriented towards the center. When the crane lifts them up they bite in and are secure.

Later he goes back and foams the hole when he foams the seams.

Show time


How hard was the certification test?

Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate. This was an answer that I got right. This is also called a borate and is used to discourage insects from using the EPS foam as a house. It’s pretty harmless stuff that is also used in talcum and baby diapers.

Pentane gas. I couldn’t remember this one. It’s the expanding agent used in the manufacture of EPS SIPs.

What’s next?

 back to work

Back to work.


One comment

  1. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before
    but after going through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back

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