In a recent article we detailed the benefits of insulated concrete forms (IFC) from a builder’s perspective. Today we look to answer a question that prospective home and property owners (the end consumer) are asking. Why would a buyer want an ICF constructed home? Better yet, why would a buyer in Alberta choose an ICF home over one traditionally built? Let’s find out.
5 Ways Alberta Home Owners and Investors Benefit from an ICF Constructed Home
1. Significantly Lower On-going Utility Expenditure
This is without question one of the biggest benefits offered by ICF homes to Alberta buyers. Because insulated concrete formed walls have a high thermal mass, the home interior is better protected from the extreme outdoor temperatures known to batter Alberta during the winter and summer months. Air-infiltration is also dramatically minimized thanks to the continuous air barriers provided by ICF. What remains, is a property constructed with a higher R-value – the measure of thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the home insulation’s theoretical effectiveness. In turn there is an ultimate reduction in both heating and cooling efforts throughout the changing seasons of the year. This 2001 U.S. government study in Chicago (a climate not dissimilar to Central Alberta) states 20% lower monthly energy bills when compared to traditional wood-built homes. Over the past 15 years advances in ICF have skyrocketed, and thus we can expect this monthly reduction to be even greater, with some quoting a number that cuts heating bills by nearly half. While this reduction in monthly energy expenditure will vary by household, there is no question the the utility cost savings are far beyond that of all traditional building methods. For homeowners and investors this is reason enough to demand an ICF constructed home.
That one word says it all. Insulated concrete form homes are quieter. ICF creates a barrier that effectively buffers a home’s interior from outdoor noise, from wind storms to freeway traffic. The combined ICF “sandwich” of concrete and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam sharply cuts fluctuations in air infiltration and other noises. When compared to a traditional wood-frame wall, evidence notes that only one-quarter to one-eighth as much sound penetrates through an insulated concrete form wall. A major study evidenced that over 60 percent of ICF homeowners referenced the benefit of quietness, versus a dismal 2 percent of wood-frame homeowners. Occupants of an ICF home are protected from noise on the outside, and even private conversations from room to room on the inside, something parents and teenagers alike will appreciate!
3. Safe and Secure
While an ICF constructed home looks just as welcoming and natural as a traditional wood-frame home it comes with the benefit of being built like a fortress. And it essentially is. There is peace of mind in knowing that a construct that protects its inhabitants and investment is made from walls of concrete. ICF homes built from Nudura forms and foundations are non-combustible, which greatly minimizes susceptibility to fire and fire damage. The property also remains safe from the battering ram winds and debris flung about by Alberta hurricanes and tornadoes. With Alberta averaging approximately 15 tornadoes per year, ICF homes are not just a “nice to have” they are becoming a necessity.
4. Minimal Upkeep and Repair
Anyone who has owned a wood-frame home in Alberta knows the maintenance and repair required from season to season. Alberta’s autumn/winter snow and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on home exteriors and interiors. Alberta spring season snowmelt makes things wet, and creates an environment conducive to mold, mildew, rot, and rust. Even the local wildlife and pest population that crawls out of the woodwork in the province’s summer months can weigh heavy on the health of an exposed wood-built home. Concrete and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam on the other hand, pay no mind to these seasonal attacks. An ICF constructed home negates all of the above concerns that can damage your home and increase upkeep/repair efforts and expenditure. Once again, residents and investors alike benefit greatly.
5. Green (and Healthy) Living
With a greater number of prospective homeowners and investors adopting a more eco-conscious lifestyle ICF is quickly becoming the construct of choice. The use of insulated concrete forms reduces the amount of materials used in home construction and dramatically minimizes waste normally created in the building process. The Canadian Green Building Council provides LEED credits to Nudura products. And as stated in item #1, monthly energy expenditure is also significantly reduced. Of course a big part of green living is not just about the indirect impact on the environment, but on the direct impact on the human population. As per item #4 above, by blocking the growth of mold, mildew, and rot, residents of an ICF home breath cleaner air and live healthier because of it. Simply put, homeowners stepping into an ICF home immediately reduce their carbon footprint and with all else being equal, live a healthier life.
Home builders looking to incorporate insulated concrete forms into their projects are encouraged to contact Total ICF to learn more. And for those prospective homeowners and investors that have found this article – good for you for doing your homework and demanding ICF homes from your local developers. Stay tuned for more on insulated concrete forms in Alberta.