Frequently Asked Questions
Homes built with ICFs offer resistance to natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods. An ICF home can dramatically reduce heating and cooling bills, plus provide an exceptionally comfortable and quiet indoor environment.
Typically, a home built with ICFs will cost slightly more than a comparable wood-frame home. However, much or all of this cost can be recouped through significantly lower utility and energy bills, insurance savings and downsizing of heating and cooling equipment. An experienced ICF contractor may be able to further reduce the costs of construction.
Walls made of ICFs perform, on average, like a wood-frame wall constructed with R-30 insulation. But that’s not the whole story. The equivalent R-value performance of ICFs consists of three factors. First is the R-value of the expanded polystyrene. Second, the thermal stability of massive concrete walls reduces the temperature fluctuations and, consequently, the heat load requirements that are common to wood-frame buildings. Finally, air leakage (infiltration) can account for 20 to 40 percent of the heat load requirements of a wood-frame building. ICFs eliminate this air infiltration through the wall assembly. As a result, with the combined performance of the R-value of the expanded polystyrene, the stabilizing effects of the thermal mass of the concrete, and the reduced air infiltration, ICF walls actually perform as high as R-40 — or more in some areas of the country.
Debris driven by high winds presents the greatest hazard to homeowners and their property during tornadoes and hurricanes. Recent laboratory testing at Texas Tech University compared the impact resistance of residential concrete wall construction to conventionally framed walls. Only concrete wall systems, such as ICFs and concrete masonry, successfully demonstrated the strength and mass to resist the impact of wind-driven debris. The wood-frame walls failed to stop the penetration of airborne hazards.
ICF Homes is the premier custom ICF building in the region. We have over 15yrs of experience.
Yes. If properly reinforced, an ICF home can provide significant protection during earthquakes. If you live in an earthquake zone, you should consult a structural engineer to determine what the reinforcement requirements are in your area.
Experienced ICF crews report that building ICF homes can actually take less time than using wood-frame construction. The ICF construction method eliminates several steps — such as sheathing and insulating the exterior walls — that are necessary with wood-frame construction.
ICFs can significantly contribute to a mold-free environment due to the inorganic nature of the material. They also create a very tight building envelope, reducing unintentional air infiltration. In high-humidity environments, interior moisture should then be controlled through the use of spot removal (e.g., bathroom fans) and properly sized air conditioning units that will cycle on long enough to dehumidify the air.
Today’s concrete homes can be created with virtually any design or architectural feature. The ICF forms used by ICF have furring strips every 8” imbedded in the panel to allow attachment of any finish — such as wood or cement board siding, brick, stucco and stone on the exterior, and drywall or plaster on the interior. The result is a home that looks like any other structure in the neighborhood but has all the benefits of solid concrete construction.
A study commissioned by the Portland Cement Association concluded that homes built with ICF exterior walls offer up to a 50 percent savings for heating and cooling costs over comparable wood-frame houses. This means that a typical 2,450-square-foot home in the United States can save approximately $200 in heating costs and $65 in air conditioning each year. The larger the house, the larger the potential savings. Some homes are realizing $1,000s per year in savings!
Concrete walls built with ICFs effectively buffer a house’s interior from the outdoors. The thick ICF sandwich of a massive material (concrete) with a light one (foam) sharply cuts fluctuations in temperature, air infiltration and noise. ICFs keep the inside more comfortable and less drafty than ordinary wood-frame walls. With regard to noise, studies have shown that compared to a typical wood-frame house, only about one-third as much sound penetrates an ICF wall.
ICF construction continues to grow at an impressive rate. It is estimated that in 1998, nearly 20,000 homes in the U.S. were constructed with ICFs. It is anticipated that soon more than 100,000 homes will be built annually with ICF exterior walls.
Yes. Every major code organization in the United States and Canada has accepted this construction technique. ICF home building has proven successful in every region and climate. The 2000 and 2003 International Residential Codes have a section on ICF construction.
In a building’s life cycle (from construction to demolition), the greatest ecological impact is the amount of fuel needed to heat and cool the home. Insulating Concrete Homes are a preferred environmental choice because of significant savings in natural resources needed to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Pre-formed 90 and 45-degree corners are available to speed construction since they are the most commonly used corner angles. Radius walls are easily constructed by miter-cutting the form at the proper angle and using foam to join the edges. Please contact ICF for more information.
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