Frequently Asked Questions

1) How much does it cost to build per square foot?

 Answer: This can range from $120 per square foot to whatever you can dream up. Tackling a Big Project to a brand new starter home for a young couple all can vary depending on the amenities. I can give you a more detailed number once we have met and i have a feel for what you would like to put into your house. 

2) Do I have to build using Insulated Concrete Forms?

 Answer: Absolutely Not, but i am not sure why you wouldn't....Right now one of the best building practices is building with Insulated Concrete. Using Insulated Concrete,I can achieve Strength, Thermal Mass for energy storage, Sound Reduction, Mold is a non issue, Resistance to Fire and Tornado Damage. If another product becomes available, in the price point we can all afford, then I will look into other options. Until then, I will keep offering this seemingly growing trend to you. If ICF isn't for you, I will price your home out for you using standard framing methods and also give you pricing using Insulated Concrete. We can then make the decision together so ultimately you are getting what you want and building within your budget. 

3) Does it take longer to build an ICF home vs standard wood framing method?

 Answer: Over a typical 4 month build, using ICF will add roughly about 1 week to the schedule. When you think about what you are gaining, and in the overall Life Span of the house, that is a week well spent. Also, using ICF, we are eliminating the need for an insulator, as the walls will be insulated.   

4) Is it more complicated or expensive to run mechanicals (electrical, plumbing, HVAC) in ICF?

 Answer: A rule of thumb to follow is to not run plumbing or HVAC on exterior walls. This ensures that much of the foam stays intact and thus provides better insulation. Electrical chases are run on ICF walls by simply carving out some of the foam and tucking the wire back into the foam. Interior walls are still wood, so mechanicals are ran the same way as in wood-framed homes. 

5) How do the insulation values compare between ICF walls and wood-framed walls (2’x4’)?

 Answer: The R-value of each inch of poured concrete is .08. The R-value of each inch of the expanded polystyrene (EPS) is 4.2. This means that with 5 total inches of EPS, and 4 inches of concrete, above grade walls with have an R-value of 21.32. Below grade walls have 5 inches of EPS and 8 inches of concrete, so an R-value of 21.64. Clearly the concrete doesn’t add much insulation value; however it does act as a significant thermo-buffer. In order for cold air to get into a heated ICF home, it first must go through the outside 2 ½” of EPS, then it has to cool down the entire concrete mass before it can go through the inside 2 ½” of EPS and lastly into the air inside the home. Days and even weeks when the outside temperature varies above and below the inside temperature, the concrete acts as a buffer, enabling the ICF wall to actually have an acting R-value of R-30+. 

A typical 2’x4’ wall with R-13 batts actually has a whole wall R-value of 10, because of factoring in the R-value of the wood studs. Now days, numerous builders are going to 2’x6’ walls to gain the space to put in R-19 batts. An R-19 batt is rated as such only when it is at its natural compression, which is 6 ½”. A 2’x6’ is only 5 ½” deep, therefore the R-19 batt is compressed to fit within the wall cavity. The R-19 batt is now acting as an R-16 batt due to the 1" of compression. Compression plus the wood studs’ R-value, results in a whole wall R-value of 13.8 for a 2’x6’ wall with R-19 batts.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory conducted research on this topic and confirmed that there is a benefit to having the concrete, or a mass wall effect. In the Midwest (study used Minneapolis), an ICF home with an R-25 wall in comparison to a wood-framed home with the equivalent R-25 wall, will save 8% more in annual energy savings, because of the mass wall effect created by the concrete. As this R-value increases, so does the percentage of annual savings.