You guys that know me well know that I’m REALLY into the off-grid part of prepping. The idea of having a self sufficient house, sitting on and living off of self sufficient land is super appealing to me. Which is why the idea of an insulated concrete form house really appeals.
Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) is a style of building that utilizes lego-like styrofoam blocks stacked as walls. Once the shell of the wall is constructed, concrete is poured into the hollow center of the wall, essentially creating a concrete “sandwich”, with insulation on either side.
The effect is something truly remarkable. I do not have first hand experience with it, but from all reports, you get a shelter that is:
- efficient to heat and cool (saving you bukoo bucks in utilities)
- much sturdier in the face of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and fires
- resistant to mold and rotting (obviously wood is more susceptible to this than concrete).
- more soundproof
- sealed tighter against the outside for increased indoor air quality
- even provides some ballistic protection (see the video of ICF walls being shot by a .50 caliber rifle!)
- in many cases eligible for lower insurance rates, and in some locales tax breaks.
The exterior of an ICF house can be finished with stucco, siding or a variety of other wall cladding to make it look absolutely “normal” (whatever that means :-)).
The tradeoff for these wonderful benefits that ICF houses provide, is an initial construction cost of about 5-10% more than the same house built with conventional construction. If the reports are true however, this is money quickly made back on lower utility bills and insurance premiums.
I’m really interested in ICF!
One of the first things that I think of when I hear about how great the insulation is, is that it becomes a much more viable candidate for alternative energy (solar, wind, etc).
Anyway, I’m just at the very beginning of discovering ICF as a technology, but I thought I’d pass it along to you in case you hadn’t already explored.
Love to hear what your experience with ICF is–let me know in the comments!
Now for the good stuff!
- Video – .50 caliber rifle vs. ICF wall
- Video – 2×4 cannon vs. ICF wall
- Video – SUV vs. ICF house
- One man’s journey to build an insulated concrete form house – very cool!
- 125 sets of ICF House Plans
- Photos of ICF homes of all styles
- First hand feedback from an ICF homeowner
- ICF Association
- Portland Cement Association
- ICF Magazine
- Wikipedia page on ICF
- Logix ICF
- Quad Lock
- Amvic System
- Liteform Technologies
- Fox Blocks
- Perma Form
- TF System
- Reward Walls
- Build Block