ICF and the concrete industry have been growing in leaps and bounds over the last several years. As more home and business owners become aware of the benefits of this unique form of building, more builders and contractors are beginning to meet demand.

Below, you’ll find the top 24 builders and contractors who work with ICF. These companies are doing exceptional, and oftentimes, groundbreaking work, helping to push the concrete industry forward. Check them out to learn more about this exciting industry and the people behind it.

1. A.B.A. Services LLC

ICF Builders 1

814-494-0527

Osterburg, PA

https://abaservicesllc.com/

A.B.A Services takes on jobs of every size, scope, and scale. They offer concrete construction services, including ICF and the systems it employ such as excavation and the concrete that fill the forms.

2. Active Contractors Inc.

ICF Builders 2

951-579-8147

Temecula, CA

http://activecontractorsinc.com

A full service general contracting firm specializing in residential construction, Active Construction lists ICF as one of their offerings. They understand the benefits ICF can bring their clients, and have the knowledge and experience to assist other builders as well.

3. AEC Wall Systems LLC

ICF Builders 3

417-224-3926

Springfield, MO

https://www.aecwall.com/ 

Alternative Energy Construction of Springfield, MO believes that ICF is the future of residential construction. They work with both blocks and ICF panels to achieve better results for all projects.

4. Chiaramonte Construction Company

ICF Builders 4

202-562-0027

Washington, DC

http://www.cc-builder.com

The Chiaramonte Construction Company in Washington, DC is a small general contracting firm that focuses on sustainable design. They cover a range of materials and techniques, including those in concrete, such as ICF.

5. Cobra Concrete

ICF Builders 5

803-640-0303

Aiken, SC

http://cobraconcrete.net/

Cobra Concrete builds only with ICF blocks, and they do so faster and less expensively than traditional builders working with other materials. They have an impressive project gallery, showing clients just what’s possible with this innovative material.

6. Connor Construction

ICF Builders 6

815-585-2378

Morris, IL

https://carpentrybyconnor.com/

Connor Construction is a custom home builder located in Morris, IL. In addition to building custom homes and offering exceptional service, they also specialize in and offer ICF construction.

7. Cornerstone Custom Construction, Inc.

ICF Builders 7

763-754-3939

Ramsey, MN

http://cornerstoneccinc.com

Cornerstone Custom Construction Inc. has been building homes using ICF since 1998 – long before others caught on to what an impressive building system this is. Since then, they have crafting beautiful homes and businesses using ICF, and have become one of the premier builders in their area.

8. Force 5 Walls, Inc.

ICF Builders 8

(251) 965-9494

Magnolia Springs, AL

https://force5walls.com/

Force 5 Walls has been working with ICF since 1997, and has a stunning portfolio of work to show for it. They take on projects of all kinds, including beautiful custom homes, commercial buildings and schools. They’re quick to point out to their clients the many ways that ICF can benefit their project.

9. Heritage Lane Builders

ICF Builders 9

204-388-6983

Manitoba, Canada

www.heritagelanebuilders.com

Since 1987, Heritage Lane Builders have been building and renovating custom homes. They offer a wide range of sites, layouts, and plans to suit anyone’s home building needs.

10. Holiday Builders, Inc.

ICF Builders 10

231-873-2523

Hart, MI

http://www.holidaybuildersinc.com

Holiday Builders has been working with ICF and stamped concrete pavers for more than 25 years. They specialize in concrete construction, but can help meet any building needs.

11. Lonnie Wright Construction Co., Inc.

ICF Builders 11

505-832-5176

Stanley, NM

https://lonniewrightconstruction.com

Lonnie Wright Construction has been building in the Stanley, New Mexico area since 1978. In 1995, they began going green, which included the use of ICF in the homes that they were constructing. Since then, they’ve been one of the premier ICF builders in the area.

12. MACNAK Construction

ICF Builders 12

253-212-2378

Lakewood, WA

http://www.macnak.com/

Macnak construction strives for perfection with everything they build. They specialize in ICF and concrete buildings and homes, believing that these structures are better, more durable, and more energy efficient than stick built, and they strive to give people these benefits at no additional costs.

13. Merlin Custom Home Builders

ICF Builders 13

702-257-8102

Las Vegas, NV

https://merlincontracting.com/

Since its inception in 1989, Merlin Contracting has built or remodeled more than 200 custom homes – including some built with ICF. They have Nevada State approval to build homes of any size, scope, or scale, and they do so with breathtaking results.

14. Mid-Atlantic ICF

ICF Builders 14

540-327-5840

Crystal River, FL

http://www.midatlanticicf.com/

Mid-Atlantic ICF works solely with ICF constructions, educating on its properties and assisting in builds. They are one of the largest ICF contractors in the area they serve.

15. Modern Group AZ

ICF Builders 15

480-596-1100

Scottsdale, AZ

https://moderngroupaz.com/

Modern Group AZ is a specialized group of subcontractors ready to assist builders and contractors with their projects. Included in their wide array of talents is the ability to work with different building systems – including ICF blocks.

16. Murphy Brothers Contracting

ICF Builders 16

914-777-5777

Mamaroneck, NY

https://www.murphybrothers.com

Murphy Brothers Contracting puts an emphasis on quality and another on building green. That’s why they list ICF as one of the ways that they can assist their clients in achieving both goals.

17. New Castle Home Builders

ICF Builders 17

515-462-2093

Winterset, IA

http://www.newcastlehomebuilders.com

New Castle Home Builders is a specialized concrete building firm in Iowa. Their custom home portfolio has continued to grow with ICF homes over the last several years, developing into an impressive display.

18. Perfection Builders

ICF Builders 18

250-804-9660

BC, Canada

www.perfectionbuilders.ca

Perfection Builders has been building homes in British Columbia since 2003. They specialize in custom projects, including those built using alternative methods such as ICF.

19. Riversdale ICF Distributors & Builders

ICF Builders 19

509-292-2334

https://www.riversdalebuilders.com/

Riversdale Builders specialize in the use of ICF, touting their many advantages to clients. They install ICF throughout Northeast Washington and into the Idaho Panhandle.

20. Ryman & Sons

ICF Builders 20

204-325-2200

Manitoba, Canada

www.rymanandsons.com

Ryman and Sons are residential and commercial concrete contractors in Manitoba, Canada. They offer a full range of concrete construction services, including ICF.

21. Southern Wall Systems

ICF Builders 21

336-417-1521

Rd Elon, NC

https://www.ncicfinstaller.com/

Southern Wall Systems makes a compelling case for why ICF should be the preferred building method in the south. They offer a wide range of services, including ICF, and help to educate others as to why they should make the switch.

22. Turning Leaf Construction

ICF Builders 22

407-792-4531

Sanford, FL

http://www.turningleafco.com/

Founded in 2009, Turning Leaf Construction has been putting a focus on energy efficient building since day one. That’s why they have a dedicated branch of their company dealing exclusively with ICF. They take on projects of every size – big or small – including custom homes.

23. Van Haren Construction Inc.

ICF Builders 23

507-332-8200

Faribault, MN

http://www.vanharenconstruction.com

Van Haren Construction is another company who saw the benefits of ICF long before the others around them. They are one of the best builders in the Faribault, MN area, using ICF to construct and build custom homes.

24. Vintage Custom Homes

ICF Builders 24

863-446-3001

Volusia County, FL

https://vcustomhomes.com/

Located in Volusia County, FL, Vintage Custom Homes is the premier ICF builder for the area. They’ve constructed more than 30 homes from ICF blocks since 2015, and founder Tad A. Olmsted firmly believes that they are the best way to build.

Build Better with ICF

As the work and portfolios of these 24 companies shows, ICF is a versatile, durable, and outstanding way to build a home or business. Take a look at any of these premier concrete builders to find out more about what services they may offer you.

Many contractors, architects, and owners of hotels recognize the advantages of insulating concrete form (ICF) construction: disaster-resistant, energy-efficient, healthy, durable, sound deadening, and quick to install. The benefits of ICF hotels, like those constructed with Fox Blocks, also yield short- and long-term financial savings to the hotel owner.

Why Build a Hotel with ICFs?

ICFs are blocks made with expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) or other insulating foam. The ICFs are stacked to form the shape of the hotel’s walls. Steel rebar strengthens the hollow centers. Concrete fills the hollow centers which create a layer of continuous insulation (CI). CI essentially eliminates thermal bridging through the wall.

Hotels built with ICFs have many benefits to the hotel owners, employees, and guests:

  • ICF walls are energy-efficient with whole wall R-values of 20
  • ICF buildings are quiet and comfortable
  • ICF walls are moisture-resistant, which prevents the growth of mold. Mold is unhealthy and can damage the integrity of the hotel
  • ICF walls have a 4-hour fire rating
  • ICF walls can stand up to severe wind-events, like a hurricane or tornado

Building a Hotel with Fox Blocks ICFs

Fox Blocks ICF Hotels are Disaster-Resistant

Fox Blocks ICFs create disaster-resistant hotels that protect the building and its occupants against natural disasters like fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Disaster-resistance is critical in new hotel construction because of more frequent and severe weather events and increasing wildfires; both are due to global warming.

  • Fox Blocks are fireproof. Fox Blocks ICFs have a fire-resistance ASTM E119 rating of 2-hours for the 4-inch blocks and 4-hours for the 6-inch blocks
  • Fox Blocks are wind-resistant: Fox Blocks, with steel reinforced concrete, will withstand severe hurricane and tornado winds exceeding 200 MPH and projectile debris flying over 100 MPH.

Fox Blocks ICF Hotels are Energy-Efficient, Healthy, and Durable

Energy-efficiency is vital in hotels because energy represents about six percent of all hotel operating costs. Implementing energy-efficient strategies in hotel design can reduce energy consumption by ten percent.

Fox Blocks ICF construction controls air and moisture infiltration and ensures an energy-efficient hotel. Fox Blocks provide CI which stops air leakage (thermal bridging) and moisture accumulation within the wall assembly. Moisture resistance is vital to preventing the growth of mold. Mold can degrade a building’s integrity and diminishes the indoor environmental quality of the hotel. Fox Blocks ICFs create energy-efficient, healthy, and durable hotels.

  • Energy-efficient Fox Blocks have an R-value of 23+ and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements
  • The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks produces a high-performing, energy-efficient hotel. High thermal mass walls absorb and store heat energy, which stabilizes temperature shifts within a hotel by slowing the heat-cold transfer rate
  • Fox Blocks control moisture intrusion because the blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of below 1.0

Fox Blocks ICFs Create Quiet Hotels

Soundproofing the walls of a hotel is critical for the comfort and well being of the occupants. The goal of soundproofing is to limit noise pollution or unwanted sounds.

  • The Fox Blocks ICF wall assembly lessens the transfer of sound between interior common walls and from the outside to the inside of the hotel. Fox Blocks have a Sound Transmission Class rating of STC 45-50+.

The Financial Benefits of ICF Hotel Construction

Hotel owners can save money with Fox Blocks ICF construction during and after the building process.

  • Installation of Fox Blocks is fast and easy, which saves money and time while shortening the construction schedule. Earlier occupancy means additional revenue and reduced construction loan costs. The Fox Blocks wall assembly combines five building steps into one: the structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature significantly quickens project delivery time by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades
  • ICF hotels minimize the need for repairs and maintenance because they resist rot and degradation, which saves a hotel owner money
  • The durability of an ICF hotel to stand up to strong wind events saves a hotel owner the costs of repairing and rebuilding after a severe tornado or hurricane.
  • ICF hotels are energy-efficient, which reduces monthly expenses to the hotel owners

The Wallhouse Hotel, built with Fox Blocks ICFs, is a five-story structure in Ohio that is disaster-resistant, quiet, and extremely energy-efficient. Along with the Fox Blocks thermal wall, the hotel’s innovative HVAC systems allows a 50 percent savings in energy costs compared to conventional hotels of similar size.

The Centre Park Holiday Inn Event and Conference Center, built with Fox Blocks ICFs, is a 116,000 square foot hotel, event and conference center that is disaster-resistant, quiet, and highly energy-efficient. Importantly, Fox Blocks saved the owners money by finishing the project two months in advance; completing the project in just 420 days.

Fox Blocks are an excellent product for constructing an ICF hotel. Fox Blocks create a hotel that is disaster-resistant, energy-efficient, healthy, durable, sound deadening, and quick to install. All these features can save hotel owners money. For more information on ICF hotel construction, please visit Fox Blocks.

Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs) create medical buildings that are safe, energy-efficient, durable, healthy, comfortable, and quiet. Fox Blocks ICFs are also quick and simple to install; saving contractors time and money.

Medical facilities (hospitals, assisted care homes, outpatient clinics, and psychiatric facilities) built with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) provide patients and medical staff all the critical elements for a modern medical building. ICF medical buildings are safe, healthy, and quiet. ICF medical buildings are also energy-efficient, durable, resilient, low-maintenance, and quick to install; four qualities that lower short-term and long-term expenses of a medical facility.  

Safe and Disaster-Resistant ICF Design for Medical Building Construction

medical facility construction

Fire-Resistant ICF Medical Facilities

An ICF wall system for a medical facility contributes towards passive fire protection within the wall systems. Passive fire protection limits the spread of smoke and fire and can lessen the danger to the occupants and the damage to the property. Passive design is also essential to protecting the structural components and preventing the collapse of a medical building during a fire emergency.

Fox Blocks ICFs are an excellent option for passive firewall protection. The 6-inch Fox Blocks ICFs achieve an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (double the two-hour requirement), an ASTM E84 value for flame speed lower than 25, and smoke development lower than 450.

Hurricane and Tornado-Resistant ICF Medical Buildings

A medical building constructed with ICF walls protects the building and its occupants from high winds during severe weather events. An ideal choice for a hurricane- or tornado-resistant wall construction is Fox Block ICFs.

  • Medical Buildings constructed with Fox Blocks ICFs maintain their integrity during severe tornado winds of over 200 mph.
  • Fox Blocks ICFs withstand projectile debris traveling more than 100 mph.

Flood-Resistant ICF Medical Buildings

The design of medical buildings in flood hazard zones must protect against storm surge, tide, and excessive rain. Flood-resistant design includes elevated structures, materials that can get wet, and design assemblies that easily dry when exposed to moisture. ICFs have all the critical elements of a flood-resistant wall. Constructing a medical building with ICF’s ensures a durable and strong structure that can stand up to water intrusion before and after a flood.

A superb choice for building an ICF medical building is the Fox Blocks solid continuous monolithic concrete walls. Fox Blocks walls are moisture-resistant and permeable (perm rating below 1.0). Fox Blocks ensure moisture that infiltrates the wall system, dries out and won’t move on to nearby materials. Fox Blocks reinforced concrete construction also does not degrade when wet and maintains its original shape and integrity during and after a flood.

Earthquake-Resistant ICF Medical Buildings

Earthquake-resistant ICF medical buildings create shear walls that extend the entire height and all sides of the building. ICF shear walls, like those built with Fox Blocks, are anchored to the foundation with steel reinforcing bars. When an earthquake occurs, this design effectively resists intense sideways (lateral) in-plane forces that push the top of the wall in one direction while the bottom remains either stationary or is forced in the other direction (racking the wall).

The Excellent Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) of ICF Medical Buildings

ICF medical facilities, like those constructed with Fox Blocks, provide superb IEQ because they are quiet, lack volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are air- and moisture-resistant.

  • Fox Block ICF walls of medical buildings promote patient dignity and privacy by ensuring that patients and the exam rooms are soundproof. Fox Blocks ICFs has a high ASTM E90 Sound Transmission Classification (STC) rating of more than 50 that creates an exterior and interior wall system with high sound reduction.
  • Fox Blocks ICFs are healthy because they do not contain  VOC. VOC are harmful because they cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, nausea, headaches, and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
  • Fox Blocks ICF medical facilities are also healthy because they are air- and moisture-resistant, which is essential to preventing moisture accumulation in the wall system. Moisture in the wall system leads to unhealthy mold.

Energy-Efficient ICF Medical Building Design

ICF construction contributes towards a tight-building envelope and an energy-efficient medical building. Vital components of an energy-efficient medical building are continuous insulation (CI), an effective air- and moisture barrier, and high thermal mass building materials. CI and an air- and moisture barrier prevents thermal bridging, raises the effective R-value and stops condensation. High thermal mass building materials absorb and store heat energy and stabilize temperature shifts within the medical building by slowing down heat transfer. Fox Blocks provide all these elements and are an ideal wall system for building an energy-efficient medical building.

  • The high thermal mass of Fox Blocks ICFs has an R-value of 23 that surpasses the ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements.
  • Fox Blocks are a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall (perm rating less than 1.0) with two layers of continuous interior and exterior expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation. The concrete and EPS provide air and vapor barriers on both sides of the wall, which prevents moisture accumulation within the wall system.

Medical Buildings Constructed with ICF are Durable

Fox Blocks ICF medical building’s wall systems are durable because they are moisture- and termite-resistant.

  • Fox Blocks are Moisture-Resistant: Fox Blocks’ solid continuous monolithic concrete wall controls moisture intrusion and prevents the growth of mold, which can degrade a medical building’s integrity.
  • Fox Blocks Provide Termite Resistant: Because Fox Blocks lack organic material, they are less susceptible to termites. But, for waterproofing and complete termite protectionFox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes.

Fox Blocks ICFs are Quick to Install

Fox Blocks ICF wall systems save money during medical building construction because Fox Blocks is an all in one wall system reduces the construction schedule, which makes installation easy and fast. Fox Block wall assembly combines five steps into one, including structure, insulation, vapor retarder, air barrier, and full height furring attachment.

Fox Blocks ICF medical buildings provide patients and medical staff a safe, healthy, and quiet environment. Fox Blocks ICF medical buildings also lower short-term and long-term expenses because they are energy-efficient, durable, low-maintenance, and quick to install.

Important considerations when choosing the best ICF block product include excellent manufacturer and dealer support, regional manufacturing and local inventory, code compliance, easy installation, and energy-efficiency. Fox Block ICF excels in all these areas, which makes it an excellent choice for the best ICF block system.

What are Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)

Expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) make-up insulated concrete forms (ICFs). ICFs are stacked to form the shape of the walls. Steel rebar or steel fibers strengthen the reinforced concrete filled hollow centers, which creates a layer of continuous insulation (CI). CI significantly lessens thermal bridging through the wall. The most common type of ICFs are hollow blocks; however, there are also panel and plank ICF systems.

  • Block systems are hollow-core blocks that stack and interlock like Legos. Blocks typically are 12-inch to 16-inch tall and 4-feet long.
  • Panel system units are 1-foot to 4-foot tall and 4-foot to 8-foot long, with a flat rectangular shape, like a wall. They are connected with brackets or ties.
  • Plank systems are 8-inch to 12-inch tall and 4-feet to 8-feet long. The planks are connected with brackets or ties.

Five Tips for Choosing the Best ICF Block Systems

1. The Best ICF Block Systems Provide Excellent Manufacturer Support

When selecting the best ICF building system for a project, it is vital to choose a manufacturer and dealer that offers superior support. There are several crucial areas of support an ICF manufacturer should provide.

  • Superior support includes knowledgeable regional managers that ensure installers have been thru a company training program that includes estimating.
  • Availability of ICF professionals to visit the job sites for training and problem-solving.
  • Technical representatives available by phone to answer questions during construction is a must have for manufacturer support.

2. The Best ICF System is Readily Available to the Location of the Project

Once the best ICF building system is determined, make sure it is readily available in the region of the project. Many suppliers only ship from a limited distance. Some will transport their products nationwide but at a higher cost. A price quote must always include shipping costs.

3. The Best ICF Block is Code Approved

Approval by the model building code of the project’s location is essential for the ICF block system. The ICF system must also be in accordance with 2018 IECC codes other US and Canadian local building code requirements.

4. The Best ICF Block System is Easy to Assemble

The ICF block system is easier to assemble than panel and plank ICF systems; which makes the ICF block system a better ICF choice. Block systems are fully pre-assembled when they arrive at the job site, so the job crew simple fits the units together. Plank and panel systems, however, require more job site assembly. As a rule, pre-assembled units are a better selection, especially if labor is expensive and construction time is limited.

Also, the best ICF blocks for quick and easy assembly include special preformed units for particular situations or parts of the wall, like preformed corners, 45-degree angles, radius, brickledge and T intersection forms. While these special units may cost more, they save on time and labor costs.

5. The Best Energy-Efficient ICF Blocks have High R-Values

The resistance-value (R-value) of an ICF product is a measure of how effectively it stops heat transfer. The R-value of an ICF wall depends mostly on the foam thickness and material. The best ICF product efficiently resists the flow of heat, which keep a home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Reducing the flow of heat in a home or building lessens energy use and saves money.

Why Fox Blocks are the Best ICF Blocks 

Fox Blocks Provide Excellent Support

Every year, the Insulating Concrete Forms Magazine publishes a chart comparing ICF products. The 2019 comparison came out in January and compared 21 ICF manufacturers. Fox Blocks stood out in several areas, including support. Fox Blocks received a positive response in all areas of support: installation help, training, engineering support, BIM library, and CAD details.

Fox Blocks are Available throughout North America

Fox Blocks has many knowledgeable regional managers, a network of local dealers and trained installers throughout North America.

Fox Blocks are Code Approved

Fox Blocks ICFs meet and exceed local US and Canadian codes and the 2018 IECC energy code requirements, and create sustainable buildings and homes with superb moisture resistance and energy performance.

Fox Blocks are Easy to Install

Fox Block Series is an all in one wall assembly, which makes it quick and easy to install. Fox Block Wall systems combine five construction steps into one, including structure, continuous interior and exterior insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and full height furring attachment. This feature shortens construction time by reducing the need to coordinate various trades.

Fox Blocks are Energy-Efficient

Fox Blocks provide continuous insulation with an R-value of 23+, which create an airtight building envelope. Fox Blocks also provides a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating below 1.0, which controls moisture infiltration and prohibits the growth of mold. Mold is unhealthy, and it can degrade the integrity of the structure.

Choose the Best ICF Blocks

best icf blocks

Factors essential to choosing the best ICF block product include superior manufacturer support, availability, code compliance, easy installation, and energy-efficiency. Fox Block ICFs excel at all these factors, which makes it the best choice for an ICF block system.

The need for new low cost house construction in the United States (U.S.) has reached a critical level due to a shortage of affordable housing. Low-cost housing must provide reasonable rents and manageable monthly expenses. A building solution to low-cost housing with affordable utility bills are insulated concrete forms (ICFs), like Fox Blocks. Fox Blocks ICFs create energy-efficient, low-maintenance and durable housing, which fosters fair rents and low utility bills.

low cost housing

Affordable, Low-Cost Housing Shortage in the U.S.

A shortage of available low-cost housing in the U.S. is driving up rents. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports that in the U.S. there are 35 available and affordable rental homes for every 100 low-income renter households (people with income at or below 80 percent of regions median income). The impacts of increasing low-income rents are often devastating. It slows the ability of families to accumulate funds for a mortgage down payment, makes some choose between food and medicine, and can even lead to evictions and homelessness for others.

The Need for Energy-Efficient Low Cost House Construction

Low-income households often struggle with utility costs. A recent report found that low-income households spend 7.2 percent of their household income on utilities. Low-income households pay more than twice the percentage of their household income on utilities as median-income households and three times as much as higher-income households. The report concluded that if low-income housing had the same efficiency level as the average U.S. home, it would decrease energy costs for low-income housing by 35 percent.

The challenge to contractors and architects of low-cost housing is to construct living spaces with affordable rents and utilities. Providing low rent and energy-efficient housing is vital to closing the gap between low-income and median-income households.

Energy-Efficient and Durable Low-Cost Housing Requires a Tight Building Envelope

Builders and architects of low-cost housing must consider energy-efficiency and durability. Energy-efficient housing lowers the tenant’s monthly bills. Durability will lessen long-term repair and maintenance expenses; costs that are often passed on to the tenants. Critical elements of energy-efficient, durable, and low-cost housing is a tight building envelope, and the location of the site, windows, rooms, and ductwork.

A tight building envelope is vital to controlling utility costs and creating good indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for low-cost housing. A tight building envelope needs both continuous insulation (CI) and an air and moisture barrier. In combination, the CI and an air and moisture barrier control heat gains and losses and moisture infiltration. Managing heat gains and losses will lessen energy use and save money. Moisture resistance is vital to preventing mold, which can diminish the IEQ and integrity of a home.

ICF Wall Construction for Low-Cost Housing

icf wall construction

The walls for low-cost housing are essential to producing a tight building envelope. Vital components of energy-efficient walls include low-thermal-conductivity, high effective R-value, and high thermal mass . Energy-efficient walls for low-cost housing are critical to achieving a tight building envelope.

An effective wall system for building energy-efficient and durable low-cost housing is insulated concrete form (ICF) walls. ICF walls form a tight building envelope that protects against air and moisture inflation.

low cost house construction

ICFs are cast-in-place concrete walls, placed between two layers of insulation. To make ICF walls, expanded polystyrene foam panels or interlocking hollow extruded polystyrene foam are dry-stacked to a wall’s length. The forms are braced and reinforced. Trained professionals then place concrete into the hollow form panels.

Other than energy-efficiency and durability, there are several more benefits of ICF wall systems for low-cost housing:

  • ICFs are disaster-, fire-, and pest-resistant
  • ICFs are low-maintenance
  • ICFs are noise-reducing and healthy
  • ICF construction provides design flexibility
  • ICFs are easy and quick to install, which saves time and money

Building Low-Cost Housing with Fox Blocks ICF

low cost house

A superior product for building new low-cost housing is the Fox Blocks ICF. Fox Blocks provide CI with an R-value of 23+, which produces an airtight building envelope that is essential for an energy-efficient home. Fox Blocks also create a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0. The low perm rating manages moisture intrusion and stops the growth of mold, which is both unhealthy and diminishes the integrity of the house.

Importantly, Fox Blocks reduces construction costs because it combines five construction steps into one, including structure, insulation, air barrier, vapor retarder, and furring attachment. This feature quickens the project delivery time by eliminating the need to coordinate various trades. Fox Blocks ICFs can help fill the gap in affordable housing by creating new energy-efficient, durable, and low-cost housing.

A Fox Blocks house built from an ICF home plan looks just like a house built from a wood-frame home plan. However, a Fox Blocks home has many advantages over a wood-frame house. Fox Blocks ICF homes are energy-efficient, storm wind-, tornado-, hurricane- and fire-resistant, healthy, durable, and low maintenance.

ICF Home Plans

Insulated concrete form (ICF) home plans are similar to wood-frame home plans; however, ICF home plans include wider walls while maintaining the same interior square footage. When building an ICF home, homeowners can choose either a wood-frame or an ICF home plan to construct their ICF home. However, selecting a wood-frame home plan will require a design professional, at a minimal cost, to convert the wood-frame home plan to an ICF home plan.

The Design Flexibility of ICF Home Construction

ICF Home Plan

There are countless design options for ICF home construction. The strength and flexibility of ICF home construction can accommodate most any home size and style. ICF is easy to cut and shape and can include customized designs, such as large openings, curved walls, long ceiling spans, cathedral ceilings, and custom angles.

 The Width of ICF Walls

An ICF home looks just like a wood-framed home. However, there is one major difference between ICF and wood-frame construction – the ICF walls are wider (12+ inches)  than wood-framed walls (4.5 inches).

Because ICF walls are wider, building an ICF home from a wood-frame home plan moves the exterior footprint out. If building in on a zero lot line, dimensions should be verified.

To maintain the original square footage of a wood-frame house plan, the design professional will increase the overall dimensions of the house, which can impact the design of the roof and foundation. Also, doors and windows will use wider jamb extensions to accommodate the increased wall thickness.

Custom ICF Homes by Fox Blocks

Other than the width of the ICF walls, there are no limitations on designs for an ICF house plan. For example, Fox Blocks ICFs have provided the wall systems for a variety of home plans from a custom-modern-mountain home in Canada to a traditionally styled home along the gulf coast of Alabama.

ICF Home Plans 3

Situated along a large rock on the side of a mountain in West Vancouver, British Columbia is a 5,200 square foot custom home built with Fox Blocks ICF. The beautiful, craftsman style home has nine levels with a six-point intersect roof line.

Located along the Fish River near the Alabama Gulf Coast is a 2,600 square foot home built with Fox Blocks ICF. It is a simple, yet elegant home that was built to stand up to the dangerous and increasing wind events along the southern coast.

The Benefits of ICF Home Construction

ICF construction creates homes that are energy-efficient, storm-disaster-resistant, and healthy. Other notable benefits of ICF construction are low maintenance and superb durability.

ICF Wall Systems are Energy-Efficient

– ICF wall systems have no studs or gaps in the insulation between the walls, which minimizes heating and cooling losses.

– ICF wall systems provide continuous insulation with no thermal bridges, which saves homeowners energy and money.

– Fox Blocks, with an R-value of 23+, provide continuous insulation and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements.

– The thermal mass of ICF walls absorb and store energy. Because of the mass the walls keep the interior warmer or cooler for a longer period of time versus wood frame walls.  Providing a more stable comfortable interior environment.

– Fox Blocks provide an ideal high thermal mass wall assembly.

ICF Wall Systems are Disaster-Resistant

– ICF wall construction produces a strong continuous load path that ensures the home will retain its integrity against winds of over 200 mph. A report by the Portland Cement Association (PCA), found that ICF walls have more structural capacity and stiffness to withstand the in-plane shear forces of dangerous winds than steel- or wood-framed walls. Also, ICF wall construction provides exceptional protection against wind-driven debris.

– Fox Blocks maintain their integrity during winds of over 200 mph and can withstand projectile debris traveling more than 100 mph.

– ICF walls are fire-resistant and protect a home and its occupants from fires.

– Fox Blocks are fire-resistant. Fox Blocks’ fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) is 4-hours for the 6-inch blocks.

ICF Wall Systems are Healthy

– ICF walls are moisture-resistant, which prevents condensation in the wall system.  Condensation in the wall can lead to unhealthy mold.

– Fox Blocks is moisture-resistant. It is a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0.  

– ICF walls do not contain volatile organic compound (VOC). VOCs are dangerous and unhealthy to the occupants of a home.

ICF Wall Systems are Durable and Low Maintenance

– ICF wall systems are durable because they are resistant to termites and moisture; both degrade the integrity of a home. ICF construction saves homeowners money and time by lessening maintenance and repairs due to wood rot and termite damage.

– Fox Blocks are moisture resistant which limits the growth of mold, mildew, and rot.

– Fox Blocks are less prone to termite damage because they lack organic material, which termites need to eat. For waterproofing and termite protection, Fox Blocks recommends Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes.

An ICF home plan produces a house that looks just like one built from a wood-frame home plan. However, an ICF home, like one built with Fox Blocks has many benefits over a traditionally framed home. Fox Blocks ICF homes are energy-efficient, wind- and fire-resistant, and healthy homes. Other notable advantages of ICF construction are low maintenance and outstanding durability.

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