Alternative Construction Materials

By
Real Estate Agent with Platinum Realty, LLC KS# BR00012805

ICF HomeWant to build a high efficiency home, don't know where to begin?  How about considering building a home out of ICF's?  What are ICF's?  Insulated Concrete Forms! 

Okay, so what is that?  Well, in the basic form it looks like Styrofoam blocks (large Lego blocks) that you put together then pour concrete in the middle.  You use rebar and must only pour the concrete four feet high at a time before it needs to set, then you can pour more and so on, until you get to the height you need.

When, I worked on the Habitat for Humanity projects, we used the ICF system to build several homes.  The insulation factor is much greater, the strength is very high and the structure can withstand high winds if built properly.  Below is a list of the benefits of using ICF.

Better Energy Efficiency & Environmental Responsibility

  • Strong, effective insulation quality provides energy efficiency far superior to other building materials.
  • Low air infiltration through finished ICF wall
  • Permanent performance with no downgrading over time
  • Shifts thermal loading from peak periods
  • This level of energy efficiency reduces dependence on fossil fuels and represents a sound, proven green building practice.

Better Durability & Improved Safety

  • High wind resistant
  • Fire rated assembly
  • Strength is permanent
  • Will not rot or decay
  • Resistant to termites (the concrete)
  • Impact resistant (the concrete)
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Building structures to last hundreds of years

More Cost Savings

  • Lower cost to heat and cool providing energy savings that provides monthly dividends for decades to come
  • Tax incentives due to energy efficiency
  • Lower property insurance rates (in some areas)
  • Reduced HVAC requirements
  • Higher home resale value

Enhanced Comfort & Health Benefits

  • Extremely quiet
  • Naturally comfortable temperature
  • Fox Blocks walls, due to their inherent performance as an effective air barrier, provide a building envelope that can be more easily designed to provide improved interior air quality with an appropriate HVAC system
  • The Fox Blocks wall system is not a cavity wall system. The building materials used in the Fox Blocks wall assemblies are stable in high moisture environments, and are not conducive to rot or to the growth of mold or mildew
  • Non-toxic materials
  • No toxic products are off-gassed, however, for a short time after the ICF is made, small amounts of pentane are released
  • Peace of mind during high wind events as testing has confirmed that ICF walls provide enhanced resistance to penetration by wind blown debris

Enhanced Constructability

  • Design versatility
  • Energy efficient
  • Structurally capable
  • Block reversibility minimizes construction waste
  • Sound deadening
  • Quick installation (depends on experience of installer)
  • Most interior and external wall finishes can be readily installed and attached to the furring strips embedded in the EPS panels
  • Permanence
  • Fully code accepted cast-in-place concrete walls
  • ICFs are time tested and proven

Here are a few manufacturers you may want to consider in using ICF's.  Check them out!

So, would you build a home out of ICF's?

David L. Britt, MBA
Olathe, Kansas
David L. Britt Real Estate

Heritage Real Estate
The Heritage Real Estate Team
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Comments (10)

Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
(RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE
They did a Habitat for Humanity using ICF here and it was on the news. (we're a little behind but growing!) Thanks for the info!
Sep 15, 2007 04:40 PM
Jolynne Photography, Creative Wedding Photography, Family Portraits, Bar Mitzvahs
Jolynne Photography - Hemet, CA
Bat Mitzvahs, Senior Pictures, Event Photography
Whoa...never heard of it before.  Habitat rules...thanks for giving back, David!
Sep 15, 2007 08:58 PM
Terry Voth
Sutton Group West Coast - Vancouver, BC
Realtor - Vancouver
I'm always fascinated by the technology today.  Any way that we can do our part to lessen emissions and make for a more energy efficient home is a good thing; not to mention the structural strength and endurance as well.  Nice information.
Sep 16, 2007 08:17 AM
David L. Britt
Platinum Realty, LLC - Olathe, KS
MBA
Sally, what did you think, would it be something you would build for yourself?  Here in Kansas, the insulation factor is worth it, don't know what the benefit would be in Hawaii other than possibly the wind.  Thanks for commenting!
Sep 17, 2007 04:27 PM
David L. Britt
Platinum Realty, LLC - Olathe, KS
MBA
Joey, and thank you for commenting!
Sep 17, 2007 04:27 PM
David L. Britt
Platinum Realty, LLC - Olathe, KS
MBA
Terry, glad you thought it interesting enough to comment!  Thanks!
Sep 17, 2007 04:28 PM
Eva Armstrong
Environmental Visions - Tallahassee, FL
Environmental Visions
David, Interesting material.  How many homes have you built/sold with this?  What down sides?
Sep 19, 2007 03:48 AM
David L. Britt
Platinum Realty, LLC - Olathe, KS
MBA
Eva, Habitat has been over 30 homes like this. The downside is that you are creating the outside structure of the building and care must be taken to think about the possibilities for future change.  There are a lot of benefits to it!
Sep 29, 2007 09:10 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy David

Thanks for the fine info.

 I think folks up here in NH and VT sould look in to ICF. For it's insulation factor. They would have to think about the downside that they would be creating the outside structure of the building and the possibilites for future change. You told Eva about.

Have a good one

Sep 30, 2007 06:54 AM
David L. Britt
Platinum Realty, LLC - Olathe, KS
MBA
Dale, for homes with winter weather, ICF can really be a benefit.  There just needs to be alot of thought put into it for all the possiblities!
Oct 08, 2007 02:51 PM

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