Over the past decade, the growing trend in the construction industry has been the demand for durable, energy-efficient concrete homes built using the advanced system of pre-assembled, interlocking insulated concrete forms (ICFs). Popular for their solidity and durability, homeowners are choosing them also because of their high design flexibility.
In fact, they are prized by architects who can design unique footprints, angles, curves, and arches at a lower cost than with traditional wood-framed construction, giving them unlimited freedom when it comes to satisfying their clients’ needs of pairing functionality and design.
WHAT GIVES ICFS UNIQUE DESIGN FLEXIBILITY?
“Today, any house plan can be adapted to ICF construction. Because the ICFs are liquid to start and solid when they finish, they can be molded into a multitude of shapes. The form is adaptable: slopes, curves or any other option you create for construction which means the aesthetic appeal doesn’t have to be sacrificed in order to achieve energy efficiency,” explained Keven Rector of NUDURA, one of the leaders in this innovative technology,
“A house built with ICFs may look similar to a house built with traditional materials since they can be styled with any traditional finish such as wood and vinyl siding, natural stone and brick or take on a different more modern look,” he added.
There are many advantages of using ICFs: they are energy-saving, dampen outside noises, keep the indoor air clean, and are resistant to degradation thanks to their inorganic nature.
But apart from that, ICFs allow a wide range of styles. The strength of the concrete core allows the creation of various types of structures with angles and curves, unlike construction with timber or conventional brick.
WHAT DESIGN DIFFERENCES CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH ICFs?
Being a reinforced structural concrete wall, a lot more variation of openings may be achieved compared to typical block bearing walls. The design flexibility of ICFs is also largely attributed to the fact that it does not have identical height restrictions as plank and block constructions. For instance, they have been used to build 20-story-plus buildings in Canada.
For home designs, the overall area of the house is generally increased to make up for the thicker walls, door jambs, and window sills. In this manner, the rooms' sizes should be designed larger to maintain the interior space area. But further, than that, the integral strength of the wall itself allows larger clear spanning rooms. So, homeowners may wish for bigger rooms without fearing the sturdiness of the structure. The roof size is equally designed to be slightly larger to support bigger dimensions.
As ICF gives a very sturdy and durable rendering, foundations made out of it can, therefore, support bigger structures too. Contrary to wood-frame houses, they are very resistant to degradation, being of non-organic material. As a result, while designing such a house, consideration should be taken that it will be built to last for many generations to come all while growing in long-term value.
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