rebelgtp
rebelgtp SuperDork
12/27/10 8:05 p.m.

Hey guys in a couple years I will be either tearing down this house to rebuild or selling the property to buy more land outside of town and building there. I figure even though it is still a few years out I would start looking into options and try to start making plans now.

Anyway I have been reading a bit on methods of building that are more efficient energy wise and the like and the whole ICF (insulating concrete forms) method interests me. Not only is it more energy efficient it holds up to extremes in weather and solves the pesky problem of bugs eating my home out from under me.

Does anyone here have experience with a home built using this method? Anyone here have one built themselves? Are there any advantages or disadvantages you have found with this construction method?

carguy123
carguy123 SuperDork
12/27/10 8:40 p.m.

I researched it a lot before building and costs plus limited people to build with them, which led to even greater costs, plus the inability to make changes on they fly plus problems adding on, adding an electrical circuit led me away.

What part of the country do you live in? They say you must live WAY north to make them cost effective. Conventional construction with foam insulation can give you 95% of the ICF with a lot less cost.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp SuperDork
12/27/10 10:38 p.m.

I live in the eastern side of Oregon. Our weather here can be kind of on the extreme in both directions to the point we can regularly see sub zero temps in the winter (not including wind chill last winter the coldest day here was down around -25-30 F). In the summer we go the other direction and will have day on end if not weeks of 100+ temps. Needless to say this particular area is not the most densely populated in the state.

Oh also on my property I basically get the wind channeled directly at me and I will see sustained 30-50 mph winds on a regular basis. This wind actually makes the current house feel like its about to blow apart at times and finds its way through the smallest of cracks. Heck if I could build a small wind turbine outside I would be set for power, at least for emergencies

Good to know that there are still few to actually do this so that can add to my costs. I had already thought about the fact it would eliminate the ability to make changes and I think if I planned things out well enough to start I can help eliminate that problem, though I'm sure something will come up, it always does.

carguy123
carguy123 SuperDork
12/27/10 10:49 p.m.

As far as sealing the house from wind, 1st get good quality doors and windows, that's where most will get in.

I used OSB around the whole perimeter then I wrapped the house and then I put 1" thick foam board on top of that and sealed the cracks with special tape and then also sealed around the doors and windows with the same tape. Stone and brick went on top of that.

SVreX
SVreX SuperDork
12/28/10 7:20 a.m.

I've used it for foundations. It's a great system.

Are you considering it for wall construction?

You mentioned bugs- one drawback is that some subterranean termites will eat the foam if it is in contact with the ground. It doesn't work in the South (more termites). It shouldn't be a problem in the North.

Do you love your location? You may be able to efficiently rebuild the house you've got to meet the demands of the site less expensively than building from scratch.

I'd do everything I could to design around the feature of the wind. Smaller walls on exposed ends, reinforced at exposed areas, buffered with trees/ earth mounds, channel it around envelope surfaces for cooling, turbine, wind pump, etc.

DILYSI Dave
DILYSI Dave SuperDork
12/28/10 7:33 a.m.
SVreX wrote: You mentioned bugs- one drawback is that some subterranean termites will eat the foam if it is in contact with the ground. It doesn't work in the South (more termites). It shouldn't be a problem in the North.

Bummer. I love the concept. Didn't know it was a non-starter in termite land.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
12/28/10 7:34 a.m.

There is a retired architect in my car club that designed/build his house here with that technique. In the worst winter we had (and it was cold), his heating bill (electric) was <$100/mo for a house of 3 or 4 thousand sq ft.

Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder Technical Editor/Advertising Director
12/28/10 7:51 a.m.

We have one here in fl. Love it. Very quiet and easy to heat and cool. A plus is that it's super quiet inside. We have a concrete slab and then icf walls, with hardi board siding....no bug food here.

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk HalfDork
12/28/10 7:57 a.m.

I toured a local house that was built using a similar system, but the "forms" were made from some sort of wood byproduct.You pile it up just like the ICFs and fill with concrete. It results in about 4" of the form outside the wall and 2" on the inside. Outside of the house was covered with 2 layers of 1" rigid foam with staggered layers and all joints taped.The wood product forms allowed the builder to anchor drywall and siding to it directly. The siding was put on strapping that was anchored to the forms. You could run electrical circuits on the inside by taking a router to the forms. All internal walls were conventional stud construction. I was in the house on a 22 day and it was 62 inside at 10:00 AM. I commented on how low the heating bill must be and was informed that the heating system had yet to be installed ! The south facing windows were double pane only, all the other sides had triple pane glass and smaller windows.If you drove by that house you would never even notce the construction methods used,it's a conventional looking farmhouse.The builder's website is www.meadowlarkbuilders.com . For the record, I have no connection to these guys, I just like touring and learning about energy efficient homes.

SVreX
SVreX SuperDork
12/28/10 8:01 a.m.
DILYSI Dave wrote:
SVreX wrote: You mentioned bugs- one drawback is that some subterranean termites will eat the foam if it is in contact with the ground. It doesn't work in the South (more termites). It shouldn't be a problem in the North.
Bummer. I love the concept. Didn't know it was a non-starter in termite land.

It doesn't rule it out, just changes the approach. The product needs to be termite resistant, and the detailing different. Kind of like the foam backing in commercial Dri-Vit systems. Termites were eating the foam out from behind the cement surface until they figured out the detailing and product formulation.

triumph5
triumph5 Dork
12/28/10 9:07 a.m.

Norm, from This Old House or Ask This Old House did a piece on a foundation--only--being built with this method in Mass. Might be available on their or PBS web site.

It did look impressive, and added about 5-10% to the constuction cost--remember this was a foundation-only build. If I were you, I'd look for a builder experienced with the construction; there were a few aspects unique to making the "forms" so they wouldn't buckle when the concrete was poured.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp SuperDork
12/28/10 11:49 p.m.

I will have to do some research and see if there is anyone out this way that does this type of construction.

SVreX
SVreX SuperDork
12/29/10 1:44 p.m.

I don't mind traveling.

mrhappy
mrhappy Reader
12/29/10 2:08 p.m.

SVreX what do you recommended to use down here for the termites?

HiTempguy
HiTempguy HalfDork
12/29/10 9:40 p.m.

We build all of our high end houses using ICF. Pretty cool when one person with some extra time on their hands can do all the work themselves. Of course, we live in canuckland so it is well suited to where we live.

If you know the right people, the price difference should be negligible.

SVreX
SVreX SuperDork
12/29/10 9:48 p.m.
mrhappy wrote: SVreX what do you recommended to use down here for the termites?

Do you mean as an insulated concrete form material, or as a method for constructing wind resistant walls?

stuart in mn
stuart in mn SuperDork
12/29/10 10:07 p.m.

A friend of mine built his house using a combination of ICFs and SIPs (structural insulated panels.) He said if he had to do it again he would have used the ICFs for the whole thing. They were easy to assemble, the house is very well insulated and it's also very quiet. He did have to look for a while before he found a concrete company who would work with him (he put up all the forms, they just had to do the pour.) I believe it was mainly because most concrete companies aren't very familiar with their use.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp SuperDork
12/30/10 11:09 a.m.

I was basically thinking of doing all of the exterior walls up in the ICF. I'm actually strongly considering selling this place to buy some land outside of town to build on where we would have a few acres in a few years. This lot is nearly an acre as it is but more space for horses is something we would both enjoy.

The biggest draw back would be rebuilding my shop, its currently 1500 sq feet

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