However, the ICF form bracing and the concrete pouring is much more demanding. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. (For more information on how to properly vent an ICF home, see Air Exchangers and Energy Efficiency in the May/June 2012 issue of this magazine.) Homes built with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are an alternative to this type of construction. If polystyrene forms are used for ICF construction, that exterior foam insulation may actually provide a route for insects and groundwater to enter the walls. ICFs consist of rigid foam forms that hold the concrete in place when it's poured, which insulates the walls throughout the life of the home. With our ICF home, we originally planned to use EIFs on the exterior. ICF homes enjoy a significant number of advantages over traditionally-built homes and some features that can be considered ICF home problems depending on need. This is not a “Do-It-Yourself” job. Insulated Concrete Form, or ICF house plans provide a solid, long-lasting home that resists fire, wind and time. ICF cast-in-place concrete walls are a relatively new below-grade building practice (Figures 1 and2). ICF homes are very tight with potential air infiltration, so this is an advantage, and they are quite easy to set up for a pour...this may be a good choice for you. ICF houses should incorporate a mechanical ventilation system to supply the home with fresh air 24/7. When the foundation of a home begins to weaken, shift, and crack, then the strength of the structure can become problematic at times. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors: ICF Inspection and Termites, Chesapeake IntegraSpec: 5 Common ICF Myths, Portland Cement Association: Insulating Concrete Forms, New Insulation Methods for Green Buildings. Mike Matthews is editor of Green Building Product News, a national publication that covers sustainable innovations in building and remodeling, and he has spoken at national conferences on green building. Once it is fully cured, the air's moisture level should return to normal. From an environmental standpoint they use a lot of cement and other manufactured materials, and they don't perform as well as they would if all of that mass were inside the home. R-values may not fully describe the energy-saving performance of insulated concrete form walls. Better than even plain concrete block walls, house plans with ICF walls give two built-in layers of foam insulation for added energy efficiency.Built to last, they have greater efficiency than a conventional stick built home, more peace and quiet, a healthier living … “Building with ICFs decreases your utility bills 40%-60% each month and makes your home quiet, comfortable and disaster resistant.” BuildBlock Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) are the strongest and most energy-efficient building material available today. Although this issue can affect ICFs, the insulating concrete form protects the interior material more consistently by distributing stressors on the wall throughout the structure. Because there are many different ICF block manufacturers, it is important to decide on one specific brand before having a designer begin creating your ICF home plan. It seems that insects wouldn't find nourishment in either the concrete or the polystyrene panels of an ICF wall, yet subterranean termites have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to burrow through the panels, find hairline cracks within the concrete, and begin damaging wood flooring and joists before being detected. And they're health-friendly, too: ICF blocks contain no formaldehyde or other toxic gases that could affect indoor air quality. This is a false statement. To address this problem, you can choose foam blocks that are treated with an insecticide and designed to be waterproof. The one potential downside with an ICF house is its cost. List of the Cons of ICF Construction. Although they are relatively new here in the UK and Ireland they're quite popular in the USA. Finish concrete to make a level surface for stacking the … Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. 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