Why Build ICF

 
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Old 01-30-2008, 12:19 PM   #1
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Why Build ICF


What is ICF?
First, ICF stands for Insulating or Insulated Concrete Forms. Basically, these are stay-in-place concrete forms used to build exterior walls of homes or buildings. The forms consist of a middle section, which many times houses metal webs used to stabilize and strengthen the concrete that will eventually be poured into this section to fill all gaps. Each side of the form, which will ultimately be the interior and exterior of the walls, consists of insulating material. Many times this insulator is two to four inches of foam insulation. So, in the finished product, your exterior walls have a concrete core wrapped with insulating foam.
ICF systems are most often used for exterior walls only. There are a few reasons for this. First, there is not a need for thick, insulating interior walls. Second, if you want to reconfigure interior walls, this would be a huge chore if your walls were reinforced concrete. There has been a trend, however, in building a "safe room" on the interior of a home or office which is housed by concrete walls on each side. This room can be used for a storm shelter or safe haven like that in the movie, Panic Room.
ICF systems can be applied below or above grade. They can also be used in multi-story applications.
One common misconception about ICF systems is in how the final product looks. Since ICFs stay in place, there will be a need for siding, brick, rock, etc. on the exterior and drywall on the interior. The final product is a home that looks like a traditional home, if the home builder so chooses to finish it out that way.

Benefits of ICF Systems to the Homeowner
  • Energy Efficiency - The most common sited benefit of ICF wall systems is that it is superior in energy efficiency. Not only does it keep the cold or hot outside air from coming in, it keeps your air conditioned or heated air from going out. Suddenly, your air conditioner and heater barely have to run to keep your interior air at your optimal temperature. What does this mean for you? You can save 50-80% on your energy bill, depending on the doors, windows, roofing, etc.
  • Strength - ICF wall systems are rated to withstand extreme weather conditions, including tornados and hurricanes. They can endure winds in excess of 140 miles per hour. In addition, they are rated safe for earthquake zones (up to zone 4), as well.
  • Durability - These walls will not settle, crack, warp, rot, mildew, rust of even vibrate when you slam a door. They do not provide food for insects (like termites, for example), mold, or vermin.
  • Quiet - ICF wall systems decrease the amount of sound that comes in from the outside by over half. It is the quietest building material on the market.
  • Comfortable - ICF wall systems result in an even temperature distribution throughout the house from floor to ceiling. There is less than two degrees Fahrenheit variation in an ICF home, compared to conventional homes that vary anywhere from five to ten degrees Fahrenheit. According to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers) points to uneven temperature distribution as a leading factor in people feeling uncomfortable. The "feel" of an ICF home is unsurpassed in comfort.
  • Cleaner Air - ICF systems prevent draft and air infiltration, meaning they prevent airborne contaminants. This is great for a homeowner because not only does it reduce allergens but dust, as well.
  • Environmentally-Friendly - Aside from it reducing energy consumption due to heating and cooling, it also reduces construction waste. Each and every form will remain on the home or building. There is no construction waste resulting from this system whatsoever aside from the small amounts of packaging. So, not only are they a pleasure to you, but they are a benefit to the environment.
  • Fire Retardant - ICF systems can resist fires for up to four hours. Even when it starts to burn, the smoke is less toxic than burning wood.
  • Bullet Proof - Standing behind a concrete wall will shield you from any flying objects, including bullets. Sure, the chances are slim, but this is an added bonus.
  • Possible Premium Reductions - Many insurance companies offer a premium reduction for homes with ICF system walls.

Arguments Against ICF Systems
  • Cost Too Much - The ICF systems cost anywhere from one to five percent more than conventional framing. However, with energy savings, in addition to premium savings, this extra construction cost is paid off rather quickly. Also, costs associated with ICF systems are about the same as "super-insulated" framing or advanced framing techniques, yet ICF systems outperform these other systems in energy efficiency, strength, durability, comfort, and indoor air quality.
  • Limited in Options - Absolutely not! Forms are made for all sorts of shapes and sizes. Arches, curved walls, odd angles, etc. are all possible with ICF systems. If your builder says it isn't possible, insist they look at different form manufacturers or switch to a builder that can do these things for you. Also, these walls are great for high ceilings and multi-story applications.
  • Stuck with Home Size - This one holds some weight. Concrete walls make it more difficult to add on to an existing concrete home. However, it definitely can be done.
  • Ugly - The ICF walls are faces with traditional building materials, including brick, rock, siding, drywall, etc. Therefore, you cannot tell the difference between ICF walls and traditional walls aside from wall thickness.
  • Too Air Tight - Because the ICF wall systems are so air tight, it may be necessary to install air exchangers and/or humidity regulating systems. This allows you to still enjoy an allergen-less, dust-less home.
  • Can't Build in Cold Temperatures - Wrong. The insulating foam actually allows you to build in cold weather. Also, in Texas, any temperature is suitable for building these walls. The only time you might consider time of year is in sub-arctic areas where temperatures get extremely low.
  • Limited Floor Plan Options - Wrong again. You can take any floor plan and have it engineered for ICF wall systems. Also, there are many floor plans available that are already engineered for ICF systems.
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Old 01-30-2008, 12:23 PM   #2
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Re: Why Build ICF


Is this a sales pitch?

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Old 01-30-2008, 12:35 PM   #3
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Re: Why Build ICF


It sure looks like a 1st time attempt to post a sales pitch without an introduction or a real question.

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Old 01-30-2008, 12:47 PM   #4
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Re: Why Build ICF


Just customer education on the benefits of building a green home with ICF walls.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:50 PM   #5
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Re: Why Build ICF


Monster,

what do you think about christianity?
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:23 PM   #6
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Re: Why Build ICF


Quote:
Originally Posted by monsterconstruc View Post
Just customer education on the benefits of building a green home with ICF walls.
Then go to a site where there are 'customers'
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:30 PM   #7
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Re: Why Build ICF


Before you go elsewhere to peddle, I hope you are smart enough to get the obvious lies and misleading comments out of the presentation so it has some semblence of accuracy. It might be more beleivable.

Check out you structural claims, especially the seismic. It sounds like you are peddling a home-made concrete forming material that was made when they were no busy making meat trays for the local Walmart.
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:30 PM   #8
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Re: Why Build ICF


Why build ICF


Cause it makes me money...
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:23 PM   #9
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Re: Why Build ICF


and ignorance speaks....
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Old 01-31-2008, 01:51 AM   #10
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Re: Why Build ICF


Quote:
Originally Posted by monsterconstruc View Post
and ignorance speaks....
Yes, your ignorance is speaking, you have copied and pasted some manufacturers literature.

I'm an installer and I can argue most of what was posted, get over it. Let the manufacturer have the liabilty with the consumer on their literature not you. You cannot compare costs in terms of % against conventional frame, your not comparing apples to apples.

Now, you want to start over?

Hi, I'm Chris nice to meet you and welcome to Contractor Talk

I see you've met my friend ConcreteMasonry, he's an engineer and can help with many items concrete related and otherwise.

Who's forms are you primarily supporting? what advantages and disadvantages have you come across?
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Old 01-31-2008, 12:11 PM   #11
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Re: Why Build ICF


I feel I need to clarify a few things.

My intentions in writing this article are to educate the general public, including contractors like yourself. ICF systems have been around for an upwards of thirty years; however, the public is generally unfamiliar with this construction method. Sure, it is a part of our marketing plan because if customers and home builders do not know that it is a superior alternative to traditional framing techniques, we cannot possibly hope to get jobs. Just as radiant barrier companies had to educate customers on what their product is and how it can benefit homeowners in order to sell their product, I feel there is a need for consumer education on this service, as well.

My intentions in posting this article to your forum was two-fold. I wanted to start a conversation (isnít that what forums are for??), and I wanted search engines to associate these keywords with my company website. For those of you that arenít familiar with SEO (AKA Search Engine Optimization) practices, it is beneficial for many other domains to link to your website, especially if those domains contain keywords that you want associated with your URL. Therefore, since there are ICF terms on this site along with my web address, Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. can associate that our website has something to do with ICF wall systems. Sure, I could have simply told you that my name is Tasha and that I like dogs, but who the hell cares, right?

To address the charges that this is not my own writing, that I simply copy/paste literature from my ICF supplier and manufacturer, you are flat out incorrect. Please check your facts before presuming my guilt. All of the writing in the article is original and not plagiarized. I invite you to check into it, but I warn that it will be a disappointment to you when you find that the work belongs to the one in the byline (me!). This article has been published and distributed elsewhere, many of those places checking my work against others to ensure no rights were infringed.

In response to my facts, I got them all from an unbiased, reputable source. Many of the facts came from the Cement Council of Texas (cementcounciloftexas dot com). This nonprofit organization consists of engineers that have produced these figures and facts. They work closely with the Portland Cement Association (PCA), whose research on cement and concrete is respected worldwide.

I do think it is appropriate to compare costs. We take our average square footage price and compare it to the average square footage price in the state of Texas to frame and insulate walls using traditional methods, up until it is ready to be finished on the outside and inside. Both walls require the same finishing practices from this point on. Apples to apples.

My company uses the vertical ICF system from TF Systems. We have not had a single problem with them. They allow us the flexibility to build any shape, angle, curve, etc. They are as easy to assemble as building blocks. Honestly, I am in the process of building my home, and I would have it no other way that using this vertical ICF system. My home actually has many architectural features like curved walls arched window- and doorways. I am also incorporating a walk out basement under the garage.

Christianity is an organized religion. Anything else?
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Old 01-31-2008, 01:28 PM   #12
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Re: Why Build ICF


Lets everybody step back, take a deep breath and count to 5.
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Old 01-31-2008, 02:03 PM   #13
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Re: Why Build ICF


There are always opinions, Chris and I have ours, and the new poster has one as well.

I like the TF system, although I have not used it, or had a need to yet. I prefer the stack blocks, and will continue to do so for the "wet set" of the starter course. The TF system uses a track, correct?

Anyway, welcome to the forum, diversity of opinions are always welcome.
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Old 01-31-2008, 02:56 PM   #14
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Re: Why Build ICF


I'm from Texas. Shoot, and I fire back...
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Old 01-31-2008, 03:05 PM   #15
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We use channels. I am assuming this is the same thing as a track...
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:06 PM   #16
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Re: Why Build ICF


I've looked at the TF system only online, have not spent a lot of time researching it, I like stacking blocks like J and will continue on that way. I'm sure TF has advantages others don't and vice-versa.

The arguable point on the facts you posted may be your own and not verbatim to the manufacturers literature, but the savings and costs, etc. are the same. Lumber gets treated as a commodity (which it really shouldn't, but it does) I've priced projects and actually been cheaper than framing and also been 30% higher. So it really depends on the lumber fluctuations, amount of concrete you are buying and distance travelled for the trucks, speed of the crew doing the install, etc.

Energy savings are noticable with ICF right off the bat. 80% is a big number to promote to people, can it be done? Yes, but it doesn't stop at ICF walls, it needs the roof insulation quality and quantity to be top notch, windows that are quality (usually European) which have a higher dollar amount than US made windows. Properly sized heating system, very few designers know how to calc out an heating/cooling system for an ICF home, they usually design for a leaky conventional home and the system they give us is wrong making it not efficient. So factors have to be taken into play and that is why I say it is not apples to apples.

I respect the promotion the PCA, and the Concrete Councils give us in the ICF industry...but remember they are in the business of promoting concrete.
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:12 PM   #17
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Re: Why Build ICF


I like ICF's, and if I had my choice, it is all I would do, but market acceptance is not there yet, and customers still drive our business. As to the value behind ICF's, yes, great energy savings, but I can achieve the same R values with steel homes and dense pack insulation, or ISP's.....things are changing every week in our field, and adapting to the changes will make or break our businesses.
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:49 PM   #18
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Re: Why Build ICF


I use smart blocks for all the small additions and anything simple. I have had tremendous results and the energy savings speak for themselves. we use a nonvented crawlspace with ours (it can be done correctly) and the heat is not lost in our cold climate. unfortunately none of our clients have gone with full height block walls but they will. as energy gets more expensive it will drive this market to new things. We have a cool way to wire the ICF's that I have been playing with for the last 2 years with great results.
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Old 01-31-2008, 10:02 PM   #19
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Re: Why Build ICF


If I were building a new home for myself, I would choose the ICF system. I watched one go through 3 hurricanes (Francis, Jeanne and Wilma) with virtually NO damage. As far as interior walls, I'd throw in one or two to support long spans of exterior walls. We used to do this in the 50/60's and I'd spec. it in MY new home, you never can tell when the 'big' one will hit.
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Old 01-31-2008, 11:09 PM   #20
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Re: Why Build ICF


I've been looking into the TF vertical system and their tech info shows installation of sheetrock and exterior siding directly to the blocks (into the vertical ladders-straight up and down). Do blocks have a similar benefit?

can someone explain the 'wet set' advanatage of lego blocks?

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