PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology
PATH Case Study
CDBG Project Launches Builder into ICF Market
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HOW ICFs WORK
ICFs are rigid plastic foam forms that hold concrete in place during curing and remain in place to serve as thermal insulation for concrete walls. The lightweight foam blocks, or planks, are energy efficient and highly durable.
Read three PATH
This project included the following PATH-profiled technologies:
"The training was very beneficial in showing us how to deal with practical problems such as how to make wall penetrations accommodate wiring and plumbing. We also observed real-life examples of steel and concrete placement and bracing. I'm a loyal Polysteel customer not only because the company has been helpful in training me to use ICFs, but also because they are easy to use."
"Once you're familiar with the technology, there's nothing revolutionary about the techniques. It still uses straight, square walls. You do have to plan for plumbing and electrical penetrations because once the concrete is poured, you won't be able to drill holes through it."
Although crews who work through Lubbock's CDBG program are well versed in using ICFs, many in the region are unfamiliar with the product, which proved to be a challenge for McGuire.
"Locating contractors that are knowledgeable about ICFs was our biggest challenge. I understand that in areas where ICFs are more mainstream, it can take two or three days to construct a home's outer walls. For us, it's two or three weeks because we have to work around the schedules of the few people here who are qualified to use them. Because of that, we have learned to plan our ICF projects well in advance."
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS
"We are typically a stick-frame builder," says McGuire. "CDBG funding made all the difference in our ability to use ICFs in low-income homes."
"In many cases, you not only have to educate customers about the benefits, you also have to convince them that they're worth the additional upfront investment. Customers who are more familiar with the product would probably be more open to using them."
McGuire recommends that builders looking to expand their market become involved in Community Development Block Grant programs.
[IMAGE: McGuire funded the ICFs in this home through a Community Development Block Grant.]"Participating in the program has brought us more projects and increased our profit margin."
McGuire says that the bidding process in Lubbock has been relatively easy to navigate. "We bid against five other builders, and the lowest one wins the contract. There were some requirements to become eligible to bid. For instance, we had to apply in writing to become an approved vendor and we had to undergo a background check and make some minor adjustments to our insurance policies. But that process took no more than a week."
"Because the CDBG program requires homes to meet certain standards of wheelchair accessibility and storm and fire protection, it took us several rounds of bidding to determine how to account for those features in our bids."
"Overall, we have found the bidding process to be very fair. It is surprisingly free of bureaucratic red tape. The inspection process has also been very thorough. We found that the expectations of quality workmanship were at least as high as expectations for the traditional houses that we build."
Because the CDBG program is administered locally, the application process differs by region. To find a CDBG program in your area, visit HUD's CDBG Contacts page.
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Content updated on 9/27/2006
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