Choose an ICF systemThere are more than 20 brands of ICFs in North America, each with some variations in design, composition and performance. Here are several important questions to ask when choosing among them:

  • What ICF product will best suit my specific needs? ICF systems offer an integrated approach to residential construction and should be evaluated in terms of their overall performance rather than individual components.
  • Does the system meet the prescribed residential building code requirements in my area? Final approval of your home design will be up to local code officials.
  • What is the price of the system, and how quickly can the forms be delivered?
  • Does the manufacturer have a technical department to assist with specific design issues?
  • Does the company provide onsite support during form installation?
  • Is a warranty offered for product defects and, if so, what are the terms?

Eddie Burks

RP Watkins, Inc.

Find an experienced builderThe more experience residential builders gain working with ICFs, the more efficient they become at assembling them. ICF contractors report that their costs drop sharply after they have built four or five concrete homes, according to PCA. Contractors well-trained in ICF installation can also build an ICF home in about the same amount or even less time than needed to build an equivalent wood-frame home. Contact your state concrete association for a list of contractors experienced in building concrete homes.

Hire the right HVAC contractorIt's also important to hire an HVAC contractor who has experience sizing heating and cooling equipment for energy-efficient ICF homes. Contractors unfamiliar with the thermal qualities of ICF construction tend to install equipment sized for a less energy-friendly wood-framed home, which means you could end up with equipment that's larger and more expensive than necessary (see Optimizing the Energy Efficiency of an ICF Home).

Gather information and resourcesMost manufacturers of ICFs can provide extensive information about their products and steer you to contractors who have experience installing their systems. Use the Concrete Network to locate ICF suppliers in your area or search the database of the Insulating Concrete Form Association to find distributors and manufacturers of ICFs by state.

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