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Anyone live in a ICF house?

Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by farmer-dave, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. Just curious if any members here live in a icf house and what your thoughts of them are, if no responses I might do a thread in the lounge but thought I'd try here first.
  2. crunchless


    Sep 22, 2008
    I'd be interested too -- if I build a house, I would definitely consider it based on what I've read, but it would be nice to hear people with actual experience building/living in one. The main downside I see is just unfamiliarity with builders, leading to maybe some poor craftsmanship.

  3. racerford


    Apr 22, 2003
    DFW area
    Yes, I do.

    I love the construction. It has many pluses. It was a bit more expensive than stick. It depends based on the relative price wood and concrete. i built near the peak of construction.

    Getting an experienced crew is important. If they screw up, the screw ups are rather permanent.

    Do you have basements in Kansas? Or wherever you want to build? I don't. It is slab on grade. I have an above ground in-house storm room built to FEMA specs. Utilities are low relative to the size of the house.

    There is a lot to consider and you need to design for it from the start. It also require and architect that understands it, unless you build a very simple plan. Some things do not work well in ICF.

    I would be happy to answer the questions I can. My house is Polysteel and was completed in 2007.
  4. We do have basements in Kansas. I've visited with a distant neighbor who built his own house using icf. He didn't appear to be a novice, I think this was the 2nd or third home he built. He seemed pretty sold on the construction method. Said he has no problems with humidity due to their being isulation on both sides of the concrete, also said his utilities ran around 60 bucks, he was also using a geothermal heat pump system. I think he had a conventional style roof and he used brick veneer to give the appearance of a brick house.

    How are your utilities, any issues of humidity, what type of roof do you have. How thick is your concrete in your walls? Give me more time and I'll probably think of more questions.
  5. racerford


    Apr 22, 2003
    DFW area
    Utilites are low. I move to 50% larger house from an energy star rated home. My bills are less even with 1000ft well that draws about 800kwh a month. We do not scrimp on heat or cooling.

    No problems with humidity, but that is mostly due to proper ventilation. I assume you mean basement walls sweating. I wouldn't know about that but I doubt it is a problem.

    Conventional roof with blown in cellulose in the attic. If I could have afforded it at the time I would have gone with high density polyurethane foam insulation on the underside of the roof. Or maybe a SIP roof.

    I have 6" flat panel walls. You could drive a passenger car into it a 60mph and it would not penetrate. The external walls are a monolithic pour attached to the slab via rebar poured in the slab sticking up 2 feet. My slab and walls took over 33 10 yard loads of concrete. The house weighs a lot!

    I have a standard brick facade just like any stick built home in the area.

    Doing it over, and if I could have afforded it. I would have gone with lightweight steel framing for the interior walls, and red iron for the roof structure, in other words as little wood as possible. I would have made a couple of interior walls of the 4" ICF for sound control and "cover" in the house. I would have made the storm room bigger. It is my 8x10 closet. If I was a little more paranoid, I would have gone to 8' concrete or 4000PSI concrete with additives. You never know when someone might come with something with more clout than .50BMG :whistling:

    It does require a lot of planning of electical and plumbing, as adding things to or through the exterior walls is hard.

    If you can talk you wife into it, if you have to cut costs, do it on finishes in the house that can be changed almost as cheaply as to have the done when the house is built, like foregoing crown molding or fancy paint. Make sure the money gets spent on the best structure and the best layout for your lifestyle. I would also consider building to ADA standards, in case you grow old or become disabled, or have family that does.

    I spent money on a fire sprinkler system. It protects your family, saves on insurance and gives piece of mind. I think it cost me $1.69 per square foot of living sprinkled space.

    You can never have too much storage space. Carefully design you r storage neds. Try to design it so you can expand later. We have a large attic space I think we could build into bonus rooms. If we had the inclination and money, without having to adjust the structure or tear off the roof.
  6. Thanks for the information, I think the hardest part about doing this type of house will be in finding a good builder who does ICF in our area.
  7. G19freak


    Nov 26, 2001
  8. Free Radical

    Free Radical Miembro Antiguo CLM

    Sep 11, 2005
    Four Corners
    ICF. Insulated concrete Forms. Basically concrete walls poured in polystyrene foam, permanent forms that provide the insulation.

    Insulation is a barrier. Mass is a battery. It's a wining combination, but don't hire a novice to do it. Check resumes. Get references.
  9. Creek Rat

    Creek Rat

    Dec 12, 2004
    You might want to wait another year or so and I think you'll find more builders familiar with ICF construction.

    There weren't any builders in Southeast Kansas doing ICF but since the Joplin tornado they are going up all over town as people rebuild. This mini-building boom is producing a lot of builders cutting their chops on ICF so they'll be in good practice this time next year.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  10. VerticalICF


    Jun 14, 2012
    The Midwest
    As a distributor for ICF building materials I have several contractors in Kansas and Oklahoma that are experienced in using the product. Some of these contractors will travel some (100-200 miles) to build new homes or businesses.

    As previous post mentioned the number of ICF homes being built each year increases, before the slow down it was about 5% a year but I have not seen any new numbers for the last couple years.

    The best technology on the market to build a strong safe structure on the market.
  11. recycooler

    recycooler 9-11-2001

    Apr 30, 2009
    I used ICF construction in 2002 to add a 24x24 full basement garage on to my house.I have span-crete concrete planking on top of the ICF full basement foundation.My kids 2 bedrooms are under the span crete ,so they have full windows .Basically a daylight foundation around the back. . I hired it out to a contractor as I never have done the ICF before, but have built 3 houses and framed the garage above this one.I think it is a great product and we have had no problems.Just some things to adjust like running wiring in the foam and some funky sheetrock screwing patterns in places.Outside I screwed exterior plywood to the ICF's then sided right onto that.My brother is going to start a new house this summer and is using ICF 's for the whole house.
  12. Hawkes


    Feb 28, 2007
    I built a new house last year and did a lot of research on ICF. It definitely has advantages (which others have already covered), but the cost difference was a bit too much for us. We wound up going with full spray foam insulation on all exterior walls and the attic (entire house basically encased in foam) with a 12x12x10 interior "storm room" (concrete filled cinder blocks set in rebar which is tied into foundation). The foam insulation was a lot "less expensive" than full ICF but we still got the energy efficiency (or at least close to it) that we'd of gotten from ICF.

    IF I'd had the extra money, would of still gone with ICF due to the reasons racerford has already covered, but we had to draw the line somewhere. :)