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Insulated Concrete Form buldings.
#1
A friend of mine is currently building house using the ICF type construction. Basically these things look like foam leggos you stack together to form the outside and inside walls, then put rebar in them and then pour concrete into them. Outside and inside is foam insulation, in between is reinforced concrete. Makes the house fire resistant, very energy efficient, extremely strong against natural disasters and bullet proof.  I am currently looking at this to build a house on my hunting property. Looks like it has some great advantages over conventional construction.
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#2
How durable is the foam?  I'm envisioning styrofoam but it must be denser and thicker.  What's the cost ratio over more traditional construction?
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

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#3
The Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs for short) are various sizes but residential types are hollow blocks that 2' long, 11" thick with 6" hollow in the middle for the concrete. There are plastic supports inside every 6" that hold them together and act as attachment points for dry wall, paneling, outside sheeting etc. They interlock just like Leggos as you stack them and you add rebar horizontally at each level and then vertically before you pour the concrete in. You end up with continuous once piece reinforced concrete wall insulated on both sides. 6" of reinforced concrete will stop just about any type of bullet. They are particularly resistant to hurricanes, tornadoes etc. They are also fire resistant. They make apartments and commercial buildings out of them in hurricane and tornado zones.

So far he has the basement framed in including a 12x12 "mechanical' room which is actually a safe room. By safe room I mean both a place to store valuables and a place to retreat to. He designed and had built a custom made steel door frame and door. Since he did on CAD he can duplicate it easily. The main floor have a floating concrete floor. His main floor master bedroom will also be enclosed in ICFs and will be a "safe room" with the same door system.

I was just out at his building site looking at it. He is very, very self sufficient/prepper oriented with the brain of an engineer. It has all the goodies you would want in a self sufficient homestead. I am getting copies of the plans from him. Next time I go out there I will take some photos.

In terms of cost, it a bit more expensive than stick built homes but you can make up the difference by doing the forms yourself. He is basically building the whole house structure by himself. He then just calls in a concrete crew to pour the cements, floor etc. It took me about 10 minutes to get the hang of stacking, measuring, cutting (with a pruning saw) and laying the supports and rebar in. The forms are light weight and if you gauge the dimension of the house to the size of the blocks there is virtually no waste. Energy savings offset the overall cost as well.
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#4
Some photos of my friends house. You just stack those foam blocks like legos. You lay rebar horizontally at each level of blocks and then vertically every three feet. You can run conduit inside the hollow walls. The main floor will be what is called a floating concrete floor. You hang tress supports inside and then over the walls. You then put the tresses across and lay trays in the tresses. You then build a lattice work of rebar rods within the tresses. Once that is in place or in this case includes the basement floor you pour the walls and basement and the main floor all at the same time. This makes a monolithic cement structure insulated on both sides. You then build the main floor walls after putting rebar sticking up from the walls.

This photo is of the walk out basement. You can see where the main floor will start. Before you pour the walls, basement floor and main floor you put rebar sticking up about 4 feet out of the walls. Once the cement is poured the rebar will tie in with the next level of walls when that is poured.

[Image: IMG_0766_zpsd8fd7s22.jpg]


Not trying to push build blocks because there are a lot of other companies who make these things. Some interesting info on their web site. http://www.buildblock.com

Inside the basement. The right side in the back is the safe room. The door frame is 10" wide and has lugs that go into the wall. Once the walls are filled with concrete you will never budge it.

[Image: IMG_0767_zpscvyagjai.jpg]

A look at the hollow wall structure with supports and rebar. Those supports also allow outer and inner sheeting to be screwed or nailed into them.

[Image: IMG_0768_zpsrs4x2xex.jpg]
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#5
Very interesting. I've never seen any material like that before. Looks good!
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#6
What's interesting is that the insulation value of these things are somewhere around R30. There is another guy in northern Michigan who has one of these houses, based on the same plan. He completely runs his whole house on solar. He is connected to the grid but generates more power than what he used from the electric company. Consequently he gets credits back from the electric company every month.

You can see a video of that house here.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVJYJ2-8Wdc

What's interesting about all this is that I have a hunting shack on 52 acres in northern Michigan and have been spending a lot of time there in the fall and spring since I retired. I hate to come home but the cabin is pretty rustic. It is not very big or comfortable and my wife won't stay there. We typically travel south/south west in the winter by RV since we are both retired. I wanted to build a house on the property that was self sufficient, secure, low maintenance etc but had not clue where to start.

So my friend who is really into self sufficiency and sustainability tells me he is going to build a house and has done all kinds of research and found this construction method. These things are not only energy efficient, extremely strong and weather resistant but damn near air tight. They are so tight that you have to use an air exchange to bring in fresh air to get rid of moisture. They don't cost any more than regular stick construction and are so efficient you will save money. I start looking at his concept and plans and the light bulbs flip on. This would be perfect on my property. I would change the floor plan around a bit but that can be done easily because he has the CAD CAM drawings and can do whatever I want. Best is that my wife has bought into the idea. So the plan is to follow his building process and see how it all shakes out (what works, what doesn't, what he likes, what he doesn't) over the next year. Do all the prep work on the land (I already have electricity, a well and septic) and hopefully build in 2017.

Here is a link to a safe room using this stuff

http://buildblock.com/icfs/safety/safe-rooms/

Here is video of a ICF storm shelter from a different ICF company. It is a good example of the monolithic building concept but on a small level. Imagine the same thing for a whole house.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuobUs7QTfk
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