When it comes to low- to mid-rise multifamily residential construction, builders are not immune to present issues related to supply chain and labor shortage. Simultaneously, particularly in a real estate market of low inventory, buyer demands for new housing, energy-efficiency, and affordability continue to increase.

“It's been a tough market for any builder right now when it comes to materials and staying on budget and schedule,” says Lee Bybee, director of commercial accounts and architectural services for OX Engineered Products in Michigan.

One area that traditionally requires a significant amount of time, cost, and labor is wrapping building structures. This usually involves separate layers of materials designed to provide structure, weather resistance, and insulation. Due to shipping delays and materials shortage, the completion time becomes longer and costlier.

Traditional wrapping in separate components breaks down as follows: structural sheathing, which provides a multifamily building rigidity and strength. It also serves as the surface for applying exterior finishing materials such as siding, brick, or stone. Next, builders must install weather-resistive barriers to keep out air and moisture. Finally, a layer of continuous insulation is added to maximize the thermal performance of the building envelope.

However, builders are turning to all-in-one products that require wrapping a building only once. The all-in-one solutions include high-performance structural sheathing, continuous insulation, an air barrier, and a water-resistant barrier. These alternative materials can help keep builders on (or ahead of) schedule and on budget by reducing the amount of time and material needed to wrap a building. Products such as OX Structural Insulated Sheathing (OX-IS), designed for residential needs, are lightweight continuous wraps that increase a building’s energy savings and are installed at a fraction of the cost and time. The continuous insulation provided by such products is becoming a requirement among stricter building codes.

Bybee points out that this kind of technology is actually not new, but has been around for nearly 30 years. It’s adoption by building contractors and hesitation to switch to something other than what they have been using for decades that makes it seem novel, even if the product has years of proof of success.

“With the progress in different products and systems out there, it would be crazy to ignore those that are improvements on old traditions,” Bybee notes.

Those who are hesitant about switching to alternative products such as OX’s could work with a customer service representative who walks builders through the entire process from start to finish. This helps builders become familiar with the material and ask any questions about the process. OX also works with building officials to help them understand the product and how it meets jurisdictional building codes.

OX’s products can help owners meet a net-zero status for their buildings by earning a higher R-value. In the strictest jurisdictions, some building codes require exterior walls to be built at an R-20 rating, and OX’s continuous insulation makes this possible. It also helps residents reduce their monthly energy bills year-round thanks to continuous insulation that provides consistent temperatures for interior environments.

For builders who have tried and switched to an all-in-one wrapping system, Bybee says their workloads and businesses have changed significantly. “It is enjoyable to see a contractor that originally has concerns about the product go through this process and almost every time they become our biggest fans,” he says.

Learn more about how OX-IS structural continuous insulation can save you time and money.