Not long after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Florida builder Chris Kavala was approached by the nonprofit Friends of the Orphans, who were interested in the steel SIPs his company distributes and builds with. The group planned to build a cottage for victims of the disaster and needed a building system that was quake-, hurricane-, and termite-resistant and could be quickly assembled with local labor. Steel SIPs — which have skins made of stainless or galvanized steel instead of OSB — are typically used for cold-storage facilities and other industrial applications. Kavala, however, believes they’re equally appropriate for residential construction —...

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