The question how ICF compares to wood frame or block construction is not the right question to ask.
The question is rather do you use a 5.000 sft size computer or a laptop today? Sine we don't live in the 18th century
anymore we should not implement this long gone "technology" anymore.
1) What is necessary to construct a house with wood? Right, to kill trees first and hopefully plant new once.
2) How can a piece of concrete block compare with highly sophisticated ICF design and material? ...and
3) How many additional steps and material (money) are necessary to come at least close to the energy factor of ICF?
We can't try to compare a 2x4 nailed together with 21st century ICF design.
The cost of a house is what you are willing and able to spend on it. But here is the difference:
I can build a 2.300 sft ICF house for US$ 285,000 - and I can build a 2.300 sft ICF house for US$ 137,000
What is the difference?
The difference is in the design with or without optimization. When you want to have a fancy custom Villa it might cost you even more, but when
you can't afford it and want to build on a smaller budget with the same benefits than the design must be more simple and easy to build.
Next question: Which "system" should I chose?
That's the best question of all I heard in my 16 years ICF experience. I can answer this question only with a counter question:
Why chose people Apple over PC or why buy people Mercedes over Toyota?
I would say because Mercedes has over 100 years experience building the best cars in the world and Apple cracked the code when it comes to design and
functionality and stability.
Where I always have a problem with is the word "SYSTEM". Many half thought half engineered ICF manufactures call their ICF stuff System, but have no clue what that means. Its not just poring some polystyreen in a mold and expand it - it's a bit more of 3D design and engineering, testing and re-engineering.
Some ICF blocks are not a System - A system must fulfill all requirements of todays building standards which is:
- Energy: sound and thermal insulation
- Strength: stronger than concrete block, sustain hurricane wind loads
- It must be COMPLETE - complete means covering all aspects of a structure, let's say up to 10 storeys.
- A system should eliminate most or all common Frame or Block problem areas ( walls not straight, nails too short, no bearing support, rotting etc. etc.)
- A system should not increase building cost during construction, by fixing problems (most common in 95% of first time builder)
- In a System the entire shell construction is one part and must be completed and closed. The shell is the structure, the rest is finish or cosmetic.
So, where do we spend the most money? Of course in the shell construction, complete with concrete and foundation.
Usually the shell cost is 50% of the total cost and the other 50% go into finish work and material.
In wood construction for example the shell is about 20% - 30% and the finish is 70% to 80%.
What do we want to accomplish? Having a sound solid, non rotting structure with the best insulation forever or do we want to have a lot of fancy cosmetic
and the structure falls apart after 10 short years?
OK ICF is the way to go today, no doubt. Concrete block is far outdated and frame construction belongs in the history books.
The only real SYSTEM I would chose is the 1968 invention of ICF, called "Isorast 2000" today. Its unique, has 15 international patents and over 29.000
projects built up to 10 storeys.
There is another question people are affright of when choosing ICF. How can I do it, is it complicated, can I make mistakes, are there unexpected surprises, hidden cost, do I have to learn the entire technology etc. etc. In most ICF cases the answer is YES.
With Isorast 2000 the exact cost for the shell is calculated before ordering. It will not change and it will cover the entire process.
The best of it You are not alone and you have not to learn engineering before you can build. If you wish an Isorast Engineer comes to
your site gives instruction on how to do what and is watching every single step until the structure is finished.
Anyway its not for long, just a matter of days. But of course its an extra cost - A cost what saves you money, a lot of money.
Why? No mistakes, no surprises, super fast, less labor (maybe just you and your family) and everything solid. If you wish you can save even
more over the next 100 years in heating and cooling cost - when you build a Passive home. By the way Isorast is the only ICF system in the
world certified for passive house construction (home without active heating system - yes also in Alaska).
Cost: A house cost money, regardless where, when and how it's built. Small house - small money, big house big money.
Just figure US$ 28 to US$ 37 per sft house for the building set, add concrete and foundation = 50%, than add finish work and material 50% and you got it.
This includes transportation to your property door to door, not consulting fees!
Flat roof construction is perfect, saves the entire roof. Roof's can be very costly and it's just cosmetic. It could fly away, the structure is still complete and intact.
Any construction starts with A) Thinking, than B) Planing and C) Doing
But if you wish to escape the cold and have a nice vacation home in the Caribbean (Belize) - I can help you. Just bring the money and watch your house growing:-)
I want to submit a picture file on How the Isorast system arrives at a building site and a few days of playing LEGO until the shell is done, but it was not possible to upload. If you wish, send me a PM with your email and I send you the file.
Good luck with all ICF projects