What is ICF and Why Should You Consider it for New Home Construction?

new-home-construction-1When it comes to new home construction, Montgomery County, PA homeowners want a new home that fits all of their design and comfort needs. The differing ways in which comfort can be manifested encompass many of the reasons why more homeowners in Pennsylvania are opting for Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction. To understand the reasons why, let’s explore the basics of ICF and its many benefits.

ICF utilizes polystyrene foam on the interior and exterior of ICF walls that are molded into cast-in-place modular forms where rebar is added for additional strength. They are assembled in a similar fashion to Lego bricks in an interlocking dry stacked fashion. The cavities of the forms are then filled with concrete to create the structural walls of the home.

The foam utilized to create the forms can easily accommodate electrical and plumbing installations. While this is most often done for the basement and foundation of homes, more and more homes are using the process to create the entire envelop of the home (excluding the roof).

new-home-construction-2As a growing choice for new home construction in Bucks County, PA as well as throughout central Pennsylvania, the virtually indestructible nature of ICF is only one of its many benefits. With a provided R Value range of R-17 to R-26, they are generally twice as energy efficient as the typical wood frame construction. ICF walls also create a much tighter house envelope, which reduces infiltration (air leakage) by 50 percent over wood frame homes.

This naturally closed and tight building envelope makes for consistent temperatures year round. This makes it cheaper and easier to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter, which can reduce energy consumption by more than 50 percent.

As a “green” construction method, ICF also produces very clean indoor air quality as it eliminates infiltration of moisture as well as dust, mold, and pollen due to its tight building envelope. The materials used in ICF also lower the level of potential VOCs that can present off-gassing concerns with traditional construction methods.

new-home-construction-3In order to further the green benefits of this new home construction, Montgomery County PA builders that are well versed in ICF construction can offer hypoallergenic ventilation in their home designs. This ensures fresh air gets into the building in a safe way and that exhaust is released on a regular basis.

Homes constructed using ICF provide much greater protection from natural and man-made disasters. They have been shown to be capable of heat resistance of 2,000 degrees for as long as 4 hours and resistance to winds as high as 200 miles per hour. While natural and man-made disasters can still cause major damages to any home, ICF can create a damage-resistant shell that allows the homeowner to realistically make repairs that can bring the home back to its former glory without the need to start from the foundation.

The tight building envelope inherent to ICF also inhibits noise from the outside world so they are exceptionally quiet inside (other than the noise that your family makes). While the benefits are clear, many homeowners wonder about its costs.

While it does cost more to build with ICF than with other methods, the cost of owning an ICF building is usually much lower than other types of buildings because of the natural energy efficiency of the building method. Consequently, homeowners generally get a full return on investment on their ICF building in energy savings over a reasonable time period.

Families considering new home construction in Bucks County, PA or anywhere in Central Pennsylvania understand that a home is a long-term investment that must balance features that save money over the life of the home with the desired level of comfort they desire today. Since ICF homes are more energy efficient, stronger, quieter and healthier than traditional homes, they get the best of all possible worlds.