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House Building Tips

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Home building is now a rapidly changing industry, so we have created these house building tips to help you stay current. Home building is no longer limited to traditional framing. The need for energy efficiency has led to a vast array of new building materials. I hope you will find these tips useful.

House Building Tips on 21st Century Materials

House Building Tips on 21st Century Materials: Selecting ICPs
• When shopping for insulated concrete panels, it is important to know that concrete does not contribute much to insulation at all, but does contribute to durability. Some panels have quite a bit of concrete involved. A few brands have concrete up to five inches thick on one side and two on the other, this makes for a very strong home, but when it comes to R-values it makes very little difference.

• There are two types of cores, polystyrene and polyurethane. Overall polyurethane is stronger and has fewer environmental and health concerns.

• The R value on extruded polyurethane foam board is usually around R – 7 or R- 8 per inch. Polystyrene ranges from R – 3.8 to R – 5 per inch, depending on density. Check with each manufacture to discover the R-Value per inch and how many inches are used. Some panels have up to 6 inches of R – 8 polyurethane which would yield an R – 48. Other panels may have only two inches of polystyrene and yield only an R – value of about 10.

• When building with ICPs there is no need for dry wall or exterior siding, unless you desire it. Some companies offer dyed concrete so that it never needs painting, while others stick with the natural gray color.

• ICPs are easy to install, and a shell can be created in a matter of days.

House Building Tips on 21st Century Materials: What are ICFs?

• ICFs are molds for making ICPs on site. Sometimes this is less costly, and the results are similar.

• Anyone can learn to make and use ICFs. According to one manufacturer, the skill can be taught in a matter of hours. It is no doubt heavy work, but not as heavy as building with ICPs.

• It is possible to make a home of ICFs without using any special rental equipment.

House Building Tips on 21st Century Materials: What is Shotcrete?

• Shotcrete is a method of spraying concrete onto a form or object.

• Shotcrete can be sprayed onto wire mesh covered polyurethane boards in order to create ICPs on site.

• In the absence of a sprayer, one can trowel the concrete onto the foam board insulation.

House Building Tips on 21st Century Materials: What About SIPS?

• While there are many types of structural insulated panels, the most common are the ones with OSB plywood on each side of an either polystyrene or polyurethane core.

• SIPs are easy to install, and a shell can be built on site in a day or two using SIPs, once the foundation is finished.

• When building a home of SIPs siding and dry wall are generally necessary. Therefore when comparing the price of OSB plywood SIP with a CIP it is necessary to include the cost of siding and drywall in the price of the SIP while omitting that cost from the ICP, unless you plan to cover the ICP with exterior siding of some type.

House Building Tips on 21st Century Materials: PEX Pipe

• PEX Pipe is an inexpensive and simple plumbing material. It can be used at a fraction of the cost of copper or galvanized pipe and is superior in durability to PVC, and copper.

• The main benefit of PEX is that it is flexible and so there is no need to make up joints. Using PEX pipe requires very little skill or labor compared to other types of plumbing pipes.

• PEX pipe has been used in Europe since the 1960’s but it is relatively new to America. For some reason PEX pipe was marketed in the Europe, while PVC was marketed in the USA. In my opinion PEX is a far superior product to PVC. It is simple to use, inexpensive and durable.

Using the new materials makes home building easier, cheaper and in most cases more durable. PEX pipe installation is fast and simple. ICP homes are durable enough to stand for hundreds of years, and will retain their energy efficiency for the life of the home, because there is nothing in them that will degrade or settle. CIP homes are also durable, and install easily in a day, saving you both time and money on labor. We hope you find the information in these house building tips useful, and download our 98 page e-book at the above right as well.


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