Posted on April 29, 2021
Residential projects remain a large part of the ICF global market. In 2018, residential construction accounted for 64.3 percent of total ICF revenue.
At the same time, there is growing interest in ICFs for commercial purposes. You’ll find ICF construction in many sectors, including healthcare, retail, education and hospitality. Analysts expect the ICF market to grow at about five percent per year well into the new decade.
Reasons for Popularity
Awareness of the advantages of ICF residential construction is higher than ever. This includes those in the industry as well as the general public. Builders gain experience with ICF residential construction. More home buyers hear about the ICF alternative to wood-frame construction. Greater awareness means increased adoption.
Innovative ICF products
As ICFs are more widely accepted, increased sales drive innovation. This makes them even more useful in residential applications. There’s a wider selection of ICF forms than ever before. For example, you’ll now find ICFs with more insulation. Thick four-inch EPS panels deliver up to R-35 protection. There’s a wider variety of radius forms. One-sided ICFs are another innovation. So are pour-in-place ICF basement windows. Some ICF systems eliminate the need for corner blocks. Finally, updated fastening strips speed the application of both exterior and interior finishes.
Stable materials costs
Over time, lumber prices rise and fall and rise again. For example, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes how lumber prices soared 170 percent in just 10 months. Since April 2020, the price of the average new single-family home has increased by $24,286. Compared to lumber, the cost of ICF components tend to remain quite stable.
To fully appreciate the sustainability of ICF construction, it is important to look at everything from the acquisition of materials through demolition and recycling. Full life cycle assessments (LCAs) are crucial to understanding ICF sustainability. That said, operational energy use still accounts for about 90 percent of a home’s lifetime environmental impact. Energy-efficient ICFs are a key component in the quest for sustainability. House-wide insulation, advanced HVAC systems and onsite renewable energy are important as well.
Hedge against energy prices
Energy prices do not increase on a straight trajectory. There are surges and plateaus instead. One thing is certain. ICF homes insulate owners against unknowns in the future of energy prices. Owners of ICF homes enjoy added protection against price spikes years or decades from now.
Increased emphasis on resilience
There’s a rising demand for rigid walls. Extreme weather and other events prioritize resilience as never before. ICFs provide built-in resiliency that gives homeowners peace-of-mind. As LogixICF says, “Strong and safe ICF homes are not expensive. But when severe climatic events threaten, they're priceless.”
Consumers who invest in ICF homes often report on how quiet they are inside. One survey examined customer satisfaction following the construction of ICF vs. wood-framed homes. Sixty percent of those in ICF homes cited sound reduction as a plus. Only two percent of those living in wood-framed homes said the same.
ICF construction increases resale values in various ways. When the time comes to sell, owners of ICF homes point to key advantages. These include energy savings, structural integrity, reduced maintenance, sound reduction and more. As a result, ICF residences may sell more quickly and/or at a higher price.
ICF Residential Case Studies
Here are some recent residential projects. They all take advantage of the energy-savings, resilience and longevity of insulated concrete forms.
ICF Home in Wallkill, NY
2021 ICF Builder Awards - Large Residential, 1st Runner-up
A 4,134 sqft ICF home in Wallkill, NY is the Large Residential 1st Runner-up in the 2021 ICF Builder Awards. It took 28 days to install the 4,642 sqft of Fox Blocks ICF forms. The zero-energy residence benefits from both solar and geothermal systems. The latter also provides 100-percent of the hot water.
ICF Pool in Swampscott, MA
The high R-values associated with ICF pools are a real plus across the northern tier of states. This was one of the considerations that led to the use of ICFs in a residential pool in Swampscott, MA. The contractor also had to contend with height restrictions and a high water table. The solution? A hybrid in-ground/above-ground 20x36 ICF pool. A 250,000 BTU pool heater and automated cover restrict heat loss in colder weather. The R-10 pool slab features EPS insulation. The R-25 pool walls feature Logix ICF forms.
ICF Home in Louisville, KY
2021 ICF Builder Awards - Large Residential, 2nd Runner-up
A 5,622 sqft Louisville home uses 11,315 sqft of Nudura ICFs. ICF construction delivered vital stability on a lot sloping 14.5 feet. ICF installation took just 16 days. Thanks in part to the use of ICFs, construction continued despite record rainfall at the time. It includes design features included in the nearby Richardsville Elementary School, the nation’s first net-zero school. A TED energy monitoring system tracks performance of the home’s building envelope.
ICF Garage in Hingham, MA
A Massachusetts car enthusiast wanted a climate-controlled garage for his sports cars. The builder used 2,800 sqft of ICFs in the construction of the 800 sqft, single-story detached garage. The natural disaster resistance and four-hour fire rating made ICFs a logical choice. The garage features a radiant heat concrete slab and R-25 ICF walls. A peel-and-stick membrane covers the ICF foundation. The foundation also doubles as a retaining wall at the hillside location.
SpecifyConcrete.org is a website of the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association (PACA). To learn more about the use of ICFs for your project, don’t hesitate to contact us.