Other reasons we chose ICFs for our exterior walls:
- Energy Efficiency - the 11-inch walls (concrete core with insulating foam exterior) keep cold and hot outside and keeps the heated or cooled air inside We hope for pretty significant savings on our energy consumption.
- Durability -- the idea of walls that don't settle, crack, mildew, rot or even shake when doors are slammed is pretty appealing. And with ICFs there is nothing for insects like termites to eat.Strength - ICF wall systems are rated to withstand extreme weather conditions, including tornados and hurricanes. While we should get very few of the former and none of the latter, it's nice to feel secure (especially since we won't have a basement). They can endure winds in excess of 140 miles per hour. And though we've moved away from the high earthquake risk, they are pretty shake-resistant as well.
- Quiet - ICF wall systems decrease the amount of sound that comes in from the outside by over half. It is the quietest building material on the market. Have I mentioned how much we are looking forward to the quiet?
- Solidity -- after living in a prewar coop in New York (with concrete block walls and floors between us and our neighbors) and our older stucco home in California, most tract homes just feel flimsy. The ICFs will do more than mimic that feeling we've come to love -- they should exceed it.
- Cleaner Air - ICF systems prevent draft and air infiltration, meaning less dust (less to clean!) and fewer allergens in the house. Perhaps our daughter's pre-asthma and allergy tendencies will lessen away from the smog and with our cleaner, greener home.
- Environmentally-Friendly - Aside from reducing energy consumption, our walls also reduce construction waste. The forms stay in place instead of ending up in the landfill. And as noted earlier, the ICFs and concrete we are using contain a good bit of recycled content.
- Fire Retardant - ICF systems can resist fires for up to four hours. If our house ever does burn, the smoke is less toxic than burning wood. Again, while we've moved away from the highest fire danger, our years in California make us look at all the trees around as potential fire fodder.
- Bullet Proof - Yeah - this one isn't really a big deal for us. But it's fun to tell the kids that the house makes a pretty good fort.
And yes, the sky really was that blue. The weather has been gorgeous almost every day since we arrived. My fears about too much rain for these former Californians have been set aside at least for the present.