Top New Home Building Materials Number One: Insulated Concrete Panels (ICP)
Insulated concrete panels are by far the most durable and energy efficient new home building materials on the market. There are some companies though that make slimmer panels. These are still strong, but do not insulate as well as the thicker panels. The best panels feature 4 to 6 inches of polystyrene or polyurethane insulation and concrete on both sides. One company produces panels that are 14 inches thick, with a hefty 6 inches of steel reinforced concrete on the exterior, just under 6 inches of insulation, and 2 inches of concrete on the interior. Those walls will probably be standing till the end of time.
With insulated concrete panels the concrete provides the strength, but very little in insulation. You must get the panels with a thick insulating layer to assure energy efficiency. Steel reinforced concrete is strong even in a thin layer, but the thickness insures incredible durability.
Structural insulated panels are basically polystyrene insulation sandwiched between plywood. These have great R-value and are superior to most materials for insulation. Construction with them is incredibly fast. I personally wince at the absence of studs in most of these products. Companies who make this stuff argue that it will stand up to winds and weather. I am slightly unconvinced, and would want studs in these walls, otherwise though it is a great product.
Used mostly in foreign countries, this building method is the best of all worlds. It has not really been easy to get this past US building codes, but it’s stronger than any other building material, and also fertile ground for the ultimate customizations at incredibly low prices. With this material it is possible to make truly unique homes with amazing curves and wild shapes. Ferro and Pumice block can be built for about $25 dollars per square foot.
It is very true that when it comes to durability and insulation, 2 by 6 studs, and closed cell insulation rank very high on their R-values. Durability is also good if properly installed, and kept dry. 2 by 4 studs are less durable, and do not allow room for adequate insulation.
Log Panels are really more like pre-framed wood siding. A home can be assembled in a day, and it is just amazing hoe pretty they look. The main selling point however is that the home can be built in a day for the low price of $21 per square foot. Foundation, insulation and drywall are not included though, but it is still a pretty great deal.
The latest craze is to stack used shipping containers to create inexpensive homes. They still need a foundation and a roof, at least in my opinion, but however you use them, they are a lot of home for the money. A used shipping container costs about $2000 and provides about 320-square-feet of living space. Many people place them parallel with about 10 or 15 feet between them, and build two window walls to enclose the area. There are many ways to use these containers as new home building materials though, limited only by your imagination.