To every custom home builder considering offering homes with even more resiliency, Matt Green has good news.
For an installed price as low as $15.50 per square foot, it may be time to add insulated concrete form (ICF) construction to your list of building options.
You’ve probably seen or heard a lot about ICF construction in recent months. The reasons why: wildfires in the West; hurricanes in the East; floods, tornados, and termites … well, just about everywhere else. If there was ever a time for insulated concrete form (ICF) construction, it’s now.
ICF is all-but-impervious to natural calamities. Take hurricane-force winds, as one example. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says “… structures built of ICF can generally withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour.” A Category 5 hurricane? No worries. ICF is engineered to take the worst Mother Nature can deliver. And installation prices as low as $15.50 per square foot shouldn’t blow the budget.
Three Weeks, Five Installers
The challenge for home builders is often finding a qualified team to install ICF. “You don’t want a GC stacking block for the first time on a multimillion-dollar custom home,” says Matt Green, business development director for Wisconsin-based KB Walker, a prominent ICF installation contractor.
To illustrate the point, Green describes a custom home project now nearing delivery in an eastern suburb of Houston, Texas. The owner, vividly recalling Hurricane Harvey’s ferocious assault just three years ago, looked to ICF to protect his new home from future storms. The GC subbed out the ICF installation on the 6,000-square-foot, four-bedroom home to KB Walker. With more than 140,000 square feet of ICF construction under the company’s belt, a crew of five were able to finish the entire exterior and interior wall assembly in three weeks.
“We’re pouring concrete twice a day in 4-foot lifts. In two or three days the whole thing is poured. It’s a shocker to watch that speed of construction. The owner was exceptionally pleased,” Green reports.
Speed wasn’t the only noteworthy aspect of this ICF build:
- 24-Foot-High Cathedral Lintels. ICF can work wonders with show-stopping architectural effects like oversized windows. “Twenty-four-foot-high gables are supported solely by the glazing and one concrete bar in the middle. The tensile strength of the concrete construction serves the design well,” Green says.
- Rebar-Free. Ordinarily, rebar provides reinforcement for the poured wall. On this project, the Walker team chose Helix Micro Rebar, a process where tens of thousands of small, twisted wires are embedded in the concrete. The internationally approved, code-compliant rebar substitute allows for efficient tensile stress redistribution throughout the concrete. It also saves time by eliminating rebar bending and forming.
Green says the Texas market is experiencing a big uptick in ICF home construction because of resiliency concerns. What pleases Green—who once gut-rehabbed stick-built homes—about the surge of ICF popularity is the material’s enduring quality.
“We talk about homes with ‘good bones.’ But how many will be here in 200 years? I grew up in England, where buildings last centuries. For a square-foot installation price of $15 to $16, builders can offer the same forever peace of mind here.”
Learn more about how ICF construction can benefit your next project at BuildwithStrength.com.