ICF Advantages For The Builder

Building with ICF makes you more profitable:

* Faster construction times. ICF walls go up quickly and easily. You may find that you can build faster with ICF than you can with traditional methods with four steps in one construction. Shorter construction time means you can complete more projects than ever before.

* No shortage of materials. Lumber prices keep going up, while supply dwindles. Build with ICF, and you won't have to deal with it. ICFs are also great for clients who want to build "green."

* Market expansion. More and more consumers want to build with ICFs, and you can be the one they're turning to. Plus, when you are able to offer an alternative to wood-framed walls, you're showing that you are innovative in your building techniques. * Tax credits. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tax credits for home builders constructing energy efficient homes under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Versatile System - Flexible Designs

ICF homes can be designed in any style, and will accept any traditional exterior finish including vinyl or wood siding, stucco and brick. Because custom angles and curves are easily created, it's simple to build in bows, bays and radiuses. And ICF systems accommodate any of today's most popular design features, such as tall walls, large openings, long floor spans, and cathedral ceilings.

Internationally Proven & Code-Accepted
Originally developed in Europe (where concrete home building is standard) ICF systems have been used successfully around the world for more than 30 years. Thousands of ICF homes have been built in recent years throughout the United States and Canada. They have proven successful in every region and climate, from Orlando to Calgary. ICF systems are accepted by all the major model codes in the U.S., and by the R-2000 program in Canada.

Fast & Easy To Use
Although it looks new and different, ICF-build home requires less total labor than a wood-framed home. And ICFs are very lightweight, so crews stay fresh through the day. Likewise, ICFs present no problem for the sub-contractors who come after the walls are poured. Since holes, chases and rectangles are easily cut into ICFs with a knife or saw, installation of mechanical systems is a snap. The fastening of drywall and lap siding is just as fast and easy. And mid-course corrections, such as moving an opening, are no big deal - just saw it out and re-form. It's not more difficult to make changes to an ICF wall - it's just different.

Cost Competitive
Over the last ten years, concrete prices have been remarkably stable. Recent price increases in other materials have generated interest in concrete building systems as never before. Labor savings and readily available materials make ICFs, feature for feature, one of the most cost competitive wall systems in the U.S. and Canadian housing markets.

Performance You Can Live With

ICF's offer several benefits to home owners, including: Greater Comfort and Lower Energy Bills -- ICF's start with high thermal performance. An ICF wall with four inches of Type II ASTM C578 polystyrene foam insulation, combined with a five-inch concrete wall, is rated above R-17 at 75 degree mean test temperatures. Air barriers provided by the EPS insulation and concrete eliminate convection currents and the high thermal mass of the concrete walls buffers the home's interior from extreme outdoor temperatures. The result is a 25 to 50 percent energy savings over traditional stud-wall or steel-frame homes.

* Super Quiet - In sound transmission tests, ICF walls allowed less than one-third as much sound to travel through them than did ordinary frame walls insulated with fiberglass.

* Super Durable - Due to the superior strength of concrete, ICF homes are able to survive hurricane and tornado winds. ICF homes are becoming very popular in southern and midwestern states, where hurricanes and tornados are more likely to strike.

* Ease of Construction - ICF homes require fewer man hours than stud-wall construction. Once a construction crew is trained in the ICF installation process, homes can be completed much more quickly than stud and fiberglass wall constructions.

* Design Flexibility - ICF's also allow for greater design flexibility. ICF forms can accommodate tall walls, curved walls, large openings, long ceiling spans, custom angles and cathedral ceilings.

* Environmentally Responsible - Building with ICF homes can provide environmental benefits in a number of ways. ICF's minimize the use of lumber, which preserves trees. Homes built using stud-wall construction typically result in a lot of cutting and trimming and, consequently, waste costly for the contractor. Finally, the superior thermal performance provided by ICF homes significantly lower the energy requirements for heating and cooling which saves the homeowner money.

"Because foam is easy to cut and shape, it allows contractors to build curved walls and custom angles without worrying about structural load considerations," said Whitaker. "To achieve these designs with stud-wall construction requires a lot more cutting and finishing work."

Future Market Trends
Acceptance of ICF homes is growing rapidly, from a humble start after the Energy Crisis in the 1970's. Nearly 200 ICF homes were constructed in 1993. By 1997, the number had grown to approximately 8,000 per year.

"We're doubling the number of ICF homes that are built each year," said Whitaker. "By the end of the year 2000, we expect to be building 80,000 ICF homes, which will represent seven percent of the new-construction market."

 Great efforts from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) are being made to educate builders and homeowners about concrete walls systems as a great option to home building. According to a recent PCA survey the awareness of ICFs and number of homes built using above-grade concrete walls had an impressive 350% increase since 1993.

If you're not building with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) yet for your residential and commercial projects, chances are, you soon will be. Join the hundreds of builders across the country who have discovered a better way to build - with insulating concrete forms.
When you choose ICF, you are building with a concrete form system that is easier to use than any other while providing your customers with superior structures. ICFs accomplish four steps in one - steel reinforced concrete walls, insulation, vapor barrier and furring - saving time and money. Plus, ICF walls are stronger than wood-framed walls, concrete block, tilt-up and anything else in the industry.

And if they haven't already, your prospective customers will start asking you about building with ICFs very soon. Fortunately, you're in the right place Cornerstone Custom Construction because we build with ICFs quickly and easily. Cornerstone Custom Construction also gives you support before, during and after you start working with us.

Read more about tax credits
Residential Energy Services Network: IRS Releases Rules for Tax Credits
Residential Energy Services Network: FAQs for Builders About the Tax Credits
Concrete Thinking: ICF - Flexible, integrated wall construction