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ICF truly is the "Holy Grail" of housing for preppers

by Guest Blogger | Oct 03, 2016

by Dan Carpenter
www.TheDailyPrep.com 

As somebody who cares deeply about self-sufficiency, I’ve always been uniquely aware of the many kinds of “alternative housing”, and the benefits that each offers.

When I was about 25, I first found out about shipping container housing, and the low-cost, small-footprint living that it affords. Not long after that, I caught wind of the concept of tiny homes, that can be built with basic power tools and a few friends. Still later I found out about straw bale houses, cob, and a dozen other building styles.

When I first found out about insulated concrete form construction however, I knew I had struck gold. As I’ve learned more and more about it over the years, I’ve come to realize that ICF truly is the “holy grail” of housing for preppers.

There are a number of reasons why. Here are just a few:

  1. Structural Integrity If you’re somebody that is thinking about emergency preparedness, then it’s likely you are already very aware of how devastating the effects of natural disasters can be. But what if your house could stand up to mother nature when you needed it to? Well, properly built ICF houses have been known to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires. The Sochacki family survived Hurricane Sandy in their house on the beach, because it was made of ICF. While other houses crumbled to the ground, their ICF house weathered the wind and waves with minimal damage. In 2004, Florida homes built with NUDURA’s wall systems withstood terrible storms, when stick built homes didn’t. How about earthquakes? Well, in a steel-reinforced concrete structure, I like my chances. To me, their strength alone makes ICF a great choice for preppers, but that’s just the beginning.
  2. Potential for Alternative Heating & Cooling Because of their superior insulating capabilities, ICF structures offer a tremendous amount of potential for alternative heating and cooling solutions. For many preppers this means heating with a wood stove in the winter. Even if you have a large home, heating with a wood stove is completely feasible. My friend Laurie does this in her ICF house in WISCONSIN of all places. Wood stoves aren’t the only way to skin this cat however. When couple with ICF, technologies like geothermal heat pumps and in-floor, radiant geothermal heating make a world of sense.
  3. Potential for Grid-Independent Electricity Going hand in hand with the potential for alternative heating and cooling, comes the potential for grid-independent electricity. Because ICF structures are so energy-efficient, the electrical requirement of a household is dramatically lower, and the possibility of powering your home with solar, wind, or even wood gasification becomes very real.
  4. Ballistic Protection How about ballistic protection? Yes, I know it seems like a weird thing to bring up, and while I know that ICF definitely wasn’t engineered to protect you in the middle of a battlefield, the fact remains that 6-12 inches of steel-reinforced concrete can stop, or at least slow down, a wide array of bullets and projectiles (Check out these videos of ICF walls withstanding .50 caliber rifles, and 2x4 canons). Although is unlikely that any of us will ever find ourselves in a firefight, knowing that the shell of your home could stand up to it is a definite plus for preppers.
  5. Aesthetically Neutral (unless you want to make it loud!) For all the wacky “tin foil hat” portrayals by the media, the large majority of preppers are low-key, normal, everyday people. Most live in in regular neighborhoods, in regular towns, and would prefer not to stick out, or draw undue attention to themselves. The stereotypical prepper bunkers or “bug out shelters” are often much too high profile for everyday folks living in the suburbs. Here again, ICF fits the bill. Because the exterior insulation can be clad in any material or finish, you can still make your home look however you choose. Fly under the radar all you want!

To go along with these benefits, there are a bunch of other smaller things. The fact that ICF homes have all the regular conveniences that you and your family are used to. After all, you may be a tough guy, but if you want your wife and kids to come along for the ride, it helps to have things like carpet, showers, and lights. I would personally love to live in a little hunting shack or off grid cabin in the woods (these are my latest obsession) but I’m pretty sure my family would never go with me!

Speaking of conveniences, ICF homes have increase soundproofing, higher resistance to mold and rotting, and overall better indoor air quality (IAQ).

It’s true that in this life, everybody has different goals, and preppers are no exception. But if you’re looking for a home that offers superior structural integrity, the potential for grid independence, and a host of other benefits, it’s clear that ICF is a unique and compelling choice.

2 comments

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  1. Dan | Oct 18, 2016

    Hi Rod, 

    Thanks for reading, and reaching out! I have not built an ICF house yet, but my wife and I are planning to for our next house. We are keeping our eyes out for land, both around us, and out of state as well. 

    As far as comparison to stick built houses, I have asked the same question many times. What I've learned is that it's hard to find true "apples to apples" comparisons, because nobody ever builds both houses. Costs of materials and labor fluctuate by area, and by month or year. 

    I have talked with and read different things over the years, but here are a couple articles that may be interesting to you: 

    Green Building Talk - http://www.greenbuildingtalk.com/Default.aspx?tabid=53&aff=4&aft=26476&afv=topic

    ICF Maghttp://www.icfmag.com/articles/features/real_costs.html

    Feel free to stay in touch via email!

    - Dan Carpenter
    www.TheDailyPrep.com

  2. Rod | Oct 17, 2016

    Hi,

    Did you ever make a tiny house with this system?

    How would the cost compare to stick construction?

    Thanks!

    Rod

     

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