Are Insulated Concrete Forms and Gigacrete panels good?

D

Are Insulated Concrete Forms and Gigacrete panels good?

Dallin Sumpter Feb. 21, 2019Last updated: Aug. 3, 2020

I want to build a house to passive house standards and keep it to a relatively small budget by potentially doing some of the build myself. I stumbled upon the history of ICFs and Gigacrete while researching building materials, but haven't seen a lot of passive houses built with these type of insulating materials. Is there a reason why? Insulating concrete forms would seem to be a pretty efficient method of building houses, and can be air tight without a lot of additional work, dont have thermal bridges, and they tend to have a hard time catching fire (important where I live). I'm looking for an educated opinion because I am such a construction rookie - but ICF as a construction system has got me interested. 

Responses (5)

H
Herman van den Berg March 7, 2019, 9:08 p.m.

I'm also planning to build a house, not necessarily up to passive house standards, but as green as economically possible. For the exterior wall I'm giving strong consideration to using Nexcem ICF wall forms. You may find technical details online about this pioneer of ICF blocks and ICF construction and videos of a builder describing how he used Nexcem ICF wall forms in construction. Note, Nexcem was recently known as Durisol, so you may find additional information online under that brand - or if you're interested in the definitive history of ICFs blocks & ICF Construction including Durisol, that's here..

Robert James
Robert James March 28, 2019, 9:23 p.m.

I looked at Nexcem too but I found lots of comments in forums about the blocks when they were Durisol - apparently they can shatter easily unless they are handled very carefully and building with them looks like hard work! see http://www.theenclosure.ca/relief-2/ Also, they wont get you above R22, which isn't helpful if you want a well insulated envelope... 

R
Robert Jones Nov. 9, 2019, 12:37 a.m.

A few years ago I built a very large home using Durisol.  We had more than 12,000  SF of Durisol walls and experienced none of the shattering problems you cite.  A  crew of five experienced masonry workers put up the walls in about 6 weeks.  We lived in the home for eleven years and it was a fantastically energy efficient home - but then that is in comparison to a standard stick built home with 4 inch insulation and which leaked air like a sieve which is all we had before. I hadn't realized before reading the article mentioned above that Durisol ICF had such a long history ! 

D
Dallin Sumpter March 11, 2019, 10:17 a.m.