Today is one of those rare occasions where I get to introduce you to new building technology. My guest, Harrison Langley, is the founder of the company Boxvana, a composite SIP manufacturer and modular builder. Their LitePan material is up to 4 times lighter than a conventional wood SIP. That weight, along with the thermal properties, makes this incredible new technology an amazing application for tiny homes on wheels.
In This Episode:
- A super light, ultra-strong, mega panel
- How CSIPs make the build go fast
- What do they cost?
- Why other industries are using Boxvana’s CSIPs
- Weight, cost, and time to build
Links and Resources:
This Week's Sponsor:
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Harrison searched long and hard for the perfect composite SIP
They can ship your house flat and ready to assemble
CSIPs are up to 4x lighter than wood SIPs
It's possible to buy either a shell or a fully-furnished Boxvana tiny house
They make their own trailers
They even make their own furnishings!
No header necessary in these windows
It's definitely possible to dress up that CSIP
Harrison Langley 0:00
I was looking at you know, container homes. Everyone knows it's horrible to build out of containers, and looked also like the wood but wood's such low quality there's no way to quickly frame out of building. Looking around the world I came across this product in Korea.
Ethan Waldman 0:16
Welcome with the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan bills and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 208 with Harrison Langley. It's not often that I get to introduce you to new building technologies. But today is just one of those days. My guest Harrison Langley is the founder of the company Boxvana, a composite Structural Insulated Panel manufacturer and modular builder. Their technology is called LitePan, and it's actually a composite SIP that replaces the wood with a composite material, and is up to four times lighter than a conventional wood SIP. The applications for tiny homes on wheels are obvious. And also just the thermal properties of these panels, along with the weight, make them an incredible new technology. I was really excited to get Harrison Langley on the show. And I'm excited for you to learn all about LitePan and these new SIPs. I hope you stick around.
But before we get started, did you know that I personally send a tiny house newsletter every week on Tuesdays. It's called Tiny Tuesdays. And it's a weekly email with tiny house news, interviews, photos and resources. It's free to subscribe and I even share sneak peeks of things that are coming up, ask for feedback about upcoming podcast guests, and more. It's really the best place to keep a pulse on what I'm doing in the tiny house space and also stay informed of what's going on in the tiny house movement. To sign up, go to thetinyhouse.net/newsletter, where you can sign up for the Tiny Tuesday's newsletter. And of course you can unsubscribe at any time I will never send you spam. And if you ever don't want to receive emails, it's easy to unsubscribe. So again, that's thetinyhouse.net/newsletter. Thanks and I hope you enjoy next week's tiny Tuesday's newsletter
Alright, I am here with Harrison Langley. Harrison is the founder and CEO of Boxvana, a composite Structural Insulated Panel manufacturer and modular builder. Harrison Langley, welcome to the show.
Harrison Langley 2:43
Thank you so glad to be here.
Ethan Waldman 2:46
Yeah. Glad to have you. So I guess just to start off, super basic. What is a composite Structural Insulated panel and how is that different from say a SIP that is made of OSB and closed cell foam?
Harrison Langley 3:05
So there's a there's a lot of different SIPs out there. This is the one we make LitePan.
Ethan Waldman 3:10
Harrison Langley 3:10
What's different is we use a composite skin just super thin compared to metal or wooden skin, which is common in the SIP industry. So with this, we get a lot of extra strength. So this this panel, even though it's credibly lightweight, it's comparable to a reinforced concrete wall. And we're able to make these panels in 9x0 foot dimensions. And it only weighs you know, a couple 100 pounds by 350, 400 pounds for so that size, that mega panel, there's really no other panel as large as ours and can do the same span. So commercial, residential, roofs, we use it for everything.
Ethan Waldman 3:52
Mega panel, I like that. You know, that's that's really exciting because, you know, as I'm sure you're aware, tiny house folks who are building on a trailer are especially looking for ways to save on weight and and as tiny houses are getting bigger up into the 30 to 40 foot range we are winding up with with houses that weigh you know, 13,15 even 20,000 pounds. What do you estimate is the weight savings of the LitePan versus your traditional OSB SIP?
Harrison Langley 4:27
Oh, that's probably four times lighter, like a similar size wood panel would be like 4000 pounds. It's incredibly like comparatively and since we can do it in such big size, even as tiny homes get, you know, 12 x 34 for the largest RV out there.
Ethan Waldman 4:44
Harrison Langley 4:45
Under 400 square feet. You can have one wall. It's one panel.
Ethan Waldman 4:49
Harrison Langley 4:50
So your framing goes down to a couple hours from a couple weeks.
Ethan Waldman 4:55
Fantastic. So there's a there's a pretty cool time lapse on on Boxvana.com, that all that I'll link to, or I'll try to even embed that in the show notes page, just showing kind of the walls going up. And it just looks like the rough openings for the windows are just kind of pre cut right into those right into those walls.
Harrison Langley 5:18
Yeah, so we have a CNC machine that can do a 90x40 foot panel, one of the biggest CNC machines around. So whenever we do a custom build or for another tiny home manufacturer, we just need their their drawings, we do a shop drawing for our panel layout and cut them out, ready to go, exact openings, usually 90 to 90% cut when we ship them to someone else.
Ethan Waldman 5:41
Got it. So in terms of the skin do people choose to kind of use that as their interior finished wall and their exterior siding? Or do you need to then kind of protect that?
Harrison Langley 5:56
They can. We definitely have people who just leave it as is and paint it. It has a 20 year UV shield. It's a double water barrier. So definitely a good good exterior, but a coat of silicone or any facade really helps keep the UV out even longer than 20 years, than the current protection.
Ethan Waldman 6:16
Can you so if you were going to say you wanted to make your tiny home look more rustic and you wanted to put up like shiplap like wooden siding. Can you nail right into it? Or do you can you only glue to it?
Harrison Langley 6:29
Screw and glue.
Ethan Waldman 6:30
Screw and glue.
Harrison Langley 6:32
Rivets work really well, too. But a lot of people don't have experience with rivets.
Ethan Waldman 6:36
I have to say I don't have any experience with rivets either. And then what? What types of insulation? I'm assuming you can do different different kinds of foams.
Harrison Langley 6:52
Yeah, so we use a neopor BASF product really like that's our five per inch. Our standard walls are 4 inches or R-20 and our standard roofing six inch, R- 30. That's a complete envelope.
Ethan Waldman 6:52
Harrison Langley 6:53
Floor is R-20 as well. So try to wrap the whole thing. So no thermal bridging.
Ethan Waldman 7:10
Yep, yep. And can people you know, say you know, I'm in Vermont, for example, say I wanted that six inch construction all round. Is that Is that possible?
Harrison Langley 7:22
Yeah. We go up to you know, 10 inch or 50 Wow, for northern states - arctic.
Ethan Waldman 7:27
Okay. Okay. And in terms of the framing that is required. Is there is there any framing that goes into the SIP?
Harrison Langley 7:38
For a tiny home the SIP is your frame. That's your structure.
Ethan Waldman 7:42
Harrison Langley 7:43
I can definitely do those 12 foot 10 foot spans that really needed support.
Ethan Waldman 7:49
Yeah, so are you manufacturing so so Boxvana seems like it's the the housebuilding arm. Is there. Is it a different company that does the LitePan? Are you kind of all all in one?
Harrison Langley 8:03
It's under one umbrella. We also do our own trailers, Rhino trailers. Okay, do our own furnishings.
Ethan Waldman 8:10
Harrison Langley 8:11
And Annabelle furnishings. So it's five different companies mixed up in there.
Ethan Waldman 8:16
Yeah, how did you how did you get into this?
Harrison Langley 8:19
Oh, just, you know, just have a real estate, construction background.
Ethan Waldman 8:27
Harrison Langley 8:27
I was looking at you know, container homes like five, six years ago but everyone knows it's horrible to build out of containers. Too much modification. Single use containers aren't the best and they're very narrow.
Ethan Waldman 8:41
Harrison Langley 8:42
And looked also like them wood but wood's such low quality there's no way to quickly frame out a building with a standard material. I think Kotierra found that out the hard way. And then I started looking at SIPs, or really composites. So I went with a local group, Strongwell out of Virginia to build my first tiny home but very expensive. When looking around the world I came across this product in Korea, licensed it for the US, started manufacturing it from there.
Ethan Waldman 9:12
Harrison Langley 9:13
Wanted to spread the word started making tiny homes or PMRVs and RVs.
Ethan Waldman 9:18
What's a PMRV?
Harrison Langley 9:19
Park model recreational vehicle.
Ethan Waldman 9:22
Harrison Langley 9:22
It's the category most of our homes fall under got it. So they can be steel frame, firmly attached to a foundation.
Ethan Waldman 9:31
Got it. Got it. And this steel frame. Is that just the base of it or is there a steel framing that goes in?
Harrison Langley 9:39
That's just the base, or it's the trailer.
Ethan Waldman 9:41
So how much does the - I see on your website there's there's the Canary. That looks like a 14 foot tiny home?
Harrison Langley 9:52
20 by eight.
Ethan Waldman 9:53
Oh 20. Okay, 20 x 8. And that weighs just 5,500 pounds.
Harrison Langley 9:58
Yeah, that's with a lot of wood on it. We can make it 4000 pounds pretty easily.
Ethan Waldman 10:04
That's, that's pretty incredible. I mean, that's getting you back into towable with with a pickup truck that is more commonly owned.
Harrison Langley 10:14
Oh yeah. So it's more like a forever RV. So it's towable by, it's under that 5500 pound limit. Really that 7000 pound limit. Almost anything can tow it.
Ethan Waldman 10:24
Yeah. Yeah. Now is, you know, on the site, it says, you know, starting at $65,000. Would that, would $65,000 Get you like a fully completed model with like, you know, hot water? Kitchen?
Harrison Langley 10:40
Yeah. All the appliances. Bathroom. Finished finished unit baseline.
Ethan Waldman 10:45
Harrison Langley 10:46
So it'd be under 5000 pounds.
Ethan Waldman 10:49
Impressive. How? And you mentioned that you're doing some work for other other tiny home manufacturers?
Harrison Langley 10:57
Ethan Waldman 10:59
Okay. Right. So other people are kind of finishing finishing out the shell?
Harrison Langley 11:05
We sell the panels to anyone who wants them, right?
Ethan Waldman 11:09
Right. Right. And has that, you know, has that caught on? Have you been getting like individual tiny house?
Harrison Langley 11:15
It took off more like in grow houses, grow rooms,
Ethan Waldman 11:19
Harrison Langley 11:21
You know, like large 20,000 square foot spaces, 9000 square foot spaces, just wrapping the interior of pre existing buildings.
Ethan Waldman 11:30
Okay, and just to give it incredible thermal...
Harrison Langley 11:34
Yeah, being able to control an environment in a room. Medical space, they built a 74 room hospital and a 32 room hospital using these panels just because they can control having a negative or positive pressure meaning
Ethan Waldman 11:48
Harrison Langley 11:49
no air is going in no new air cycling on the outside or keeping inside air inside.
Ethan Waldman 11:54
Got it. So in terms of the the air sealing that goes into it, are the panels... I'm guessing there's some kind of attachment system that holds the panels together? And then are they taped together?
Harrison Langley 12:08
Glued and screwed with angle seal on the corners basically.
Ethan Waldman 12:13
Harrison Langley 12:13
Seals them up nice and tight.
Ethan Waldman 12:15
Very cool. Very cool. And how long has as Boxvana been building these?
Harrison Langley 12:20
Yes, we've been around almost four years this summer.
Ethan Waldman 12:23
Okay. And do you have? I'm guessing you've got people living in these homes all over the country?
Harrison Langley 12:30
All over the country? Yeah. A lot of Airbnbs.
Ethan Waldman 12:35
Yep. Yeah. Well, that's certainly one way that people are using tiny houses. And again, like, just with the weight factor here, you know, just makes moving them so much easier.
Harrison Langley 12:49
Oh, yeah. Definitely. Especially like the more "getaway" model. I don't know if you've seen those getaway houses, but it's basically our Canary with a slight modification.
Ethan Waldman 13:00
Ah, okay. Let's, I won't, I won't tell anybody. Although they'll hear this when the podcast comes out.
Harrison Langley 13:07
Yeah, no. Just add a big window in the front. It's easy.
Ethan Waldman 13:11
Yeah, so. And that's a good point with the with the SIP, you know, you can put a wall of glass in a lot easier than if you were framing that wall.
Harrison Langley 13:21
Yeah. Especially if you know the measurements beforehand, because we're going to see and see it out precisely.
Ethan Waldman 13:27
Certainly, certainly. But, you know, no, no header required.
Harrison Langley 13:30
Right. No header required.
Ethan Waldman 13:35
So, tell me about the trailers. Why did you go the route of kind of building your own trailers rather than you know,
Harrison Langley 13:43
Because you can't really buy them, can you? It's really hard. The big manufacturers like have contracts with the larger trailer groups. So if you really want a 11'8" x 34 foot trailer playing it has them all. So yeah, we make those larger size, which is like the 400 square foot and then you know, the 8x24s, make those as well. It's all in house right now. We can make a trailer a day just just that way.
Ethan Waldman 14:13
Nice. Are the trailers. Could they be used by anyone building a tiny house? Are they are they specific?
Harrison Langley 14:21
Oh anyone! Yeah. We ssell them to other tiny home manufacturers for sure.
Ethan Waldman 14:26
Okay. Okay. So they're not like necessarily specific to working with SIPs even.
Harrison Langley 14:32
No. Yeah. Just for tiny homes in general.
Ethan Waldman 14:37
Harrison Langley 14:38
Ethan Waldman 14:39
Nice. I apologize in advance for the kind of technical question but this is one that I always like to just hear how different manufacturers and builders get around this which is even in a SIPs tiny home when you're building out a trailer you know, there's oftentimes can be a problem area where the base of the wall meets the trailer. If that's not also coming down and touching the insulated floor, you know, sometimes people will build out onto the flange of their trailer. And then they end up with this thermal short circuit, alace where moisture can can collect. How do how do your builds work in terms of does the SIP sit on top of the trailer? does it sit within the trailer? And how do you deal with that? That cold spot there?
Harrison Langley 15:31
Yeah, so the entire trailer is covered with the SIP and I think we put a one foot overhang on all the edges.
Ethan Waldman 15:38
Harrison Langley 15:39
where it isn't, we can do up to a four foot overhang with with our panels. And the walls are connected right to that SIP.
Ethan Waldman 15:47
wow, so that SIP is strong enough to just cantilever out over the trailer and just take the full weight of the building on it.
Harrison Langley 15:55
Oh, yeah. Yeah, up to four feet really? We're only doing a foot six inches.
Ethan Waldman 16:01
Four's feet a lot.
Harrison Langley 16:02
Yeah get some good you know, columns in the front of your house and you get a good good porch for that.
Ethan Waldman 16:09
Yeah, yeah, totally. I know that. You know, some sips manufacturers will kind of machine in like a chase for wiring and electrical. How do you handle that in the for the composite?
Harrison Langley 16:28
We, we can do that. But usually we cover the inside with furring strips around the electrical and the furring strips and then drywall on top of it.
Ethan Waldman 16:37
Okay, so So the drywall works okay?
Harrison Langley 16:39
Ethan Waldman 16:41
Yeah, I know that early on in the tiny house movement, there was kind of a allergy to drywall in the sense that there was concern that it would crack when you move the structure, and also just that it's, you know, not the lightest material out there. So a lot of tiny houses are covered in wood. And it seems like these homes don't don't move, in the sense that the drywall doesn't.
Harrison Langley 17:06
The drywall doesn't crack. Yeah, we haven't had a problem with it transporting from our factory anywhere quite yet.
Ethan Waldman 17:12
Nice. Nice. What's the like, around time, you know, if I order a canary from you today? Like when am I going to get it?
Harrison Langley 17:23
Three to four months.
Ethan Waldman 17:24
Three, four months? Got it. And, and these are, as you mentioned, I think before we started rolling, these are these are built in a factory.
Harrison Langley 17:31
Yeah, built in factory a factory. 50,000 square feet ready, ready to pump them out.
Ethan Waldman 17:36
Sweet, sweet. Well, I mean, it's, it's really exciting. I love seeing new building technologies being applied. And and I think that tiny houses in a way are a great kind of entry for experimental, new efficient building technologies, because the houses aren't that big, maybe less can go wrong. And, you know, then as tiny house dwellers get to experience some, you know, amazing thermal characteristics, amazing. You know, just tightness and all those things.
Harrison Langley 18:13
Yeah. Take it to a whole nother level. You're not dealing with wood anymore. You're dealing with one panel, that's one wall.
Ethan Waldman 18:22
Harrison Langley 18:22
You can definitely feel more off grid, you know, put 14 solar panels on, a battery pack, composting toilet, get rid of your black water, and you're good to go, right?
Ethan Waldman 18:35
Yeah, totally. So we do have a couple of Tiny House Engage members are kind of listening in to the live stream and, you know, one questions coming in. And I don't know that we'll do it here on the live call. But I would love to include these on the show notes page. You know, do you have any pictures or diagrams or kind of white paper type things that we can, you know, offer to our listeners to check out and see for sure. Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. So we'll, you know, to Bill who's listening. We'll do that. On the show notes for we'll include some some pictures and diagrams. I don't want to mess with a screen share during the the podcast interview.
Harrison Langley 19:17
Oh, yeah, for sure. We'll send over a packet of information and our websites pretty intuitive.
Ethan Waldman 19:23
Cool. How are the houses ventilated?
Harrison Langley 19:31
I usually put an ERV in.
Ethan Waldman 19:35
Harrison Langley 19:36
You know, low box keeps the air circulating.
Ethan Waldman 19:39
Harrison Langley 19:40
Ethan Waldman 19:41
Yeah, becauseI would imagine that in a in a house this tight it's important to have that air exchange.
Harrison Langley 19:47
It definitely is.
Ethan Waldman 19:48
Harrison Langley 19:50
That instance is where the air inside grew real cold and stayed cold and didn't heat up during the day. That negative pressure keeping the door closed.
Ethan Waldman 20:00
Yeah. Oh, wow. Hear a hiss when you open the door early, the air escaping. Very sci fi. So I'm just looking at some of the features and kind of upgrades that you can offer that a radiant heated floor is an option. Do you do that with electric? And is there is there a tile or some thermal mass that that you go?
Harrison Langley 20:25
Yeah, it's all electric. It's a really thin material called Lanmiheat out of Germany that we use.
And we just apply it to the floor, right on top, right underneath the vinyl or a tongue and groove flooring. Works great.
Ethan Waldman 20:45
Nice. So for for a customer who might be interested in in a house that they are going to finish themselves like a shell. Do you? Do you ship it flat? Or do you only sell it kind of as a completed shell?
Harrison Langley 21:02
Oh, yeah, we ship flat panels all the time.
Ethan Waldman 21:06
Okay, so you can someone's can essentially order their house and have it shipped out on their trailer? And then they kind of put it together?
Harrison Langley 21:13
Ethan Waldman 21:15
They could if they wanted to.
Harrison Langley 21:16
They could if they wanted to. We haven't had anyone buy a trailer and get panels shipped to him yet, but you know, we can do it.
Ethan Waldman 21:23
Yeah, it would strike me that it would be easier to have the factory setting be where the walls are stood up and attached and and secured. Just because I would imagine that to do that yourself. You either need a team of people or you need a couple and a crane.
Harrison Langley 21:43
Yeah, like three or four guys and the knowledge of at least a Girl Scout troop.
Ethan Waldman 21:48
Yeah, I was gonna say some guys or gals or whoever to help you lift up the walls and know, put them into
Harrison Langley 21:56
We use a crane because we have one. But a crane isn't needed?
Ethan Waldman 22:00
Yeah. BYOC Bring Your Own Crane.
Harrison Langley 22:03
There you go.
Ethan Waldman 22:07
So, in terms of small houses, I think the benefit is clear from a weight perspective. What's, you know, I see on the website, there are some larger home models out there. How do you you know, differentiate yourself and compete with you know, regular SIPS, for example, when you're looking at a 1400 square foot house where the weight is less of a concern.
Harrison Langley 22:36
It's all about the thermal bridging and the overall maintenance of the home. I mean, what's just a lower quality product and with the modular manufacturer competing directly with Clayton Homes, which they do 50,000 homes a year. I mean, they're low quality homes. You can see them curvy going down the road, but just somebody who wants less maintenance and a better, better overall quality.
Ethan Waldman 23:00
Yeah, yeah. So the idea here is that somebody could design a home and then just order the whole kit from from you.
Harrison Langley 23:08
Yeah. It comes comes in two pieces, installs on site, and you just need a GC, a contractor, to pull the permits, hookup the mechanical.
Ethan Waldman 23:16
Harrison Langley 23:17
Ready to go.
Ethan Waldman 23:18
Yeah. Well, it's, it's pretty cool. I think that, you know, there's a certain romance with the idea of like working with wood and like, toiling and kind of framing up your house and standing up the walls and sheathing them and insulating them and all that. And, you know, that's, it's almost a sacred cow. But this is kind of a way around that. To save a lot of time.
Harrison Langley 23:46
Time and money. For sure.
Ethan Waldman 23:48
Yeah. Yeah. So how does, how does that pencil out in terms of, you know, for example, the Canary shell, versus hiring a contractor to basically build you that same shell, stick framed and insulated with spray foam?
Harrison Langley 24:10
I don't know, I feel like a show the trailers like $24,000, $30,000 finished. If I were to find that trailer. I don't know how much would be out of wood.
Ethan Waldman 24:20
Yeah, yeah. Well, I've heard, I've heard that with with traditional SIPs, it's about the same. But the difference is that, you know, with the CSIP you're putting a lot more money into the materials, whereas with the, you know, the contractors and the framers, you're putting a lot more of the money into the labor and less into the materials.
Harrison Langley 24:40
A lot more money in the labor.
Ethan Waldman 24:43
Harrison Langley 24:44
That's where 60 70% of your costs that we save you. That's where the savings is.
Ethan Waldman 24:49
Harrison Langley 24:51
Like our 4-inch panels is like $10 per square foot. That's where usually starts out.
Ethan Waldman 24:56
Okay. Do you have any kind of, for lack of a better word, demo models just like ready that are ready to ship ready to go?
Harrison Langley 25:04
Yeah, I have 4 models I'm trying to sell right now.
Ethan Waldman 25:07
Harrison Langley 25:07
Look at our Facebook or our YouTube page. We have a Henderson, a 10x30 for $50,000. We have a Monaco, no appliances, for $75,000. It's ready to go. An off grid Halifax with I think 12 solar panels, Generac battery $99,000. And then LG model, which is a 35x9, that's completely off grid as well and bulletproof. So, yeah, some ready to go units.
Ethan Waldman 25:41
That's awesome. Okay. Very cool. Very cool. Well, man, it it's, you're just like, you know, a wealth of information, just firing it off. Is there? Is there anything that I haven't asked you about? You know about these these homes or this construction technique that you're, you know, interested in learning more about, or that you're interested in telling us about?
Harrison Langley 26:05
No, check out our website, check out our YouTube videos, so I'll send you more information to post to share out and.
Ethan Waldman 26:11
Harrison Langley 26:12
Glad to be on.
Ethan Waldman 26:13
Awesome. Well, Harrison Langley, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. This was, I learned a lot.
Harrison Langley 26:21
Alright. Thanks, Ethan. Thanks for your time.
Ethan Waldman 26:24
Thank you so much to Harrison Langley for being a guest on the show today, you can find the show notes, including a complete transcript of this episode, photos of some of my favorite Boxvana models, and some YouTube videos that Harrison mentioned in the interview at thetinyhouse.net/208. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/208. Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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