Local experts guide Habitat toward success with its first-ever ICF build
Construction for Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity’s (GSHFH) first-ever insulated concrete form (ICF) home is coming together. The project, which uses foam panels and concrete as a binding agent to create the home’s framing, is a significant change from the traditional wood frame. Habitat’s success in assembling the frame is due, in large part, to Integraspec local distributors Steve Bogle and his wife Cheryl, who have educated the GSHFH team on the product. The team from Swansea – in Bristol County, south of Boston – have collaborated with GSHFH Construction Manager Sheri L. Green since the early stages.
To create the home’s framing, GSHFH uses 2.5-inch foam blocks manufactured by Integraspec. The pieces are separated by webbing, or plastic insert spacers, and are stacked much like children’s building blocks. Once assembled, concrete is poured between the foam pieces. The 6-inch concrete core along the foam blocks creates an insulated and resilient frame. The ICF system will be used for all of the exterior walls from the foundation to the second story.
“It’s very impressive. Sheri is a real professional,” said Steve, who is an engineer by trade. “This product is designed to be relatively easy to install, but there’s always a learning curve with a new product.”
“Sheri is doing such a good job that Steve is impressed and he’s not easily impressed,” she said.
Steve said he and Cheryl have been out to the build site approximately five times and think there will be two more visits before the framing is finished. When they do visit, Steve checks the bracing, ensures the joints are sealed, and offers Sheri tips for the next step of the process. He also answers any questions Sheri might have. Cheryl acts as a liaison between Sheri and Steve. She schedules meetings and trips to the build site, and supplies Sheri with whatever she may need from Intraspec to get the job done.
“I couldn’t do it without them. Their leadership is immense and they’re just phenomenal,” Sheri said, enunciating “phenomenal.” “I appreciate them and their generosity. I won’t ever do an ICF project without them.”
The husband-wife duo said they have worked with Integraspec foam panels for the past 18 years and are even using the ICF product to create an addition on their own home. ICF offers several benefits to a builder. For starters, the foam blocks are made from recycled material, are resistant to mold, moisture, and rot; and contain a flame retardant. Also, due to the rising cost of lumber, this method significantly reduces the need for wood. Furthermore, ICF doesn’t need sheathing.
ICF also offers many benefits to a homeowner. Since an ICF house has foam on both sides of the concrete, its wall temperatures won’t change throughout the day. This means it’ll cost less to heat and cool the home, which leads to energy savings. Also, foam and concrete walls insulate sound better than wood-framed walls so an ICF home will likely be quieter than a traditional house.
“The house will be quiet, even if it’s windy and stormy outside,” Steve said,” and it’ll stay nice and toasty inside.”
The ICF project is a collaboration between the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and Habitat for Humanity International to build 50 insulated concrete form homes across the country. To see the progress on this house, visit habitatspringfield.org/projects