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ICF – A Lower-Cost, Efficient Alternative to Wood for Mid-rise Construction

November 18, 2021
ICF – A Lower-Cost, Efficient Alternative to Wood for Mid-rise Construction

As demand for building materials continues to rise, the price of lumber has skyrocketed – causing architects, developers, and contractors to look for a cost-effective alternatives to wood construction for mid-rise buildings. One such alternative is Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction.

The concept of Insulated Concrete Forms dates back to World War II, when companies began developing plastic forms to be used as permanent wall supports to hold cement walls together. Though this construction technique has been around for decades, in the past it was typically more expensive than wood, so many developers steered away from it. Now, as wood prices continue to soar, developers are taking a second look at ICF.

Using Fox Blocks with Our Clients

DesignCell is currently working on two hotel projects that are using Fox Blocks Insulated Concrete Forms for their wall assembly. Fox Blocks Insulated Concrete Forms are double-insulated forms used to create steel-reinforced concrete walls that meet building codes, offer energy efficiency, sound attenuation, and unlimited design solutions.

This affordable method of building walls and foundations, which involves the stacking and locking of foam units to quickly build a wall, eliminates the need for expensive lumber and often shortens building time (as compared to wood framing). In addition, the technique is less labor-intensive than wood framing, enabling building to continue despite the current labor shortage.

Jill Rubin, Project Manager at DesignCell believes that Fox Blocks are the answer to the dilemma facing many developers in today’s market. “Fox Blocks are a great alternative to wood construction,” she explained. “This type of environmentally-friendly, insulated concrete wall system is ideal for mid-rise construction, as it provides many of the same benefits of wood framing without the current exorbitant cost of lumber.”

DesignCell is integrating this durable, strong, and low-cost, low-skill building material into the design of the Cambria by Choice Hotels, a 6-story, hotel in Glendale, Arizona, and the Residence Inn by Marriott in Gilbert, Arizona, a 5-story, 109-key hotel that is part of a larger Planned Area Development adjacent to the Mercy Medical Center complex. Utilizing thicker exterior walls (10”+ vs. 8”), the Fox Blocks are highly insulated and energy efficient, providing draft-free properties that will benefit from long-term energy savings.

Can you benefit from ICF Construction?

With the lumber and labor shortages projected to last well into 2022 and beyond, Insulated Concrete Form construction is a viable and smart solution to wood framing. Utilizing this cost-effective and less labor-intensive technique will enable a recovering hotel industry to move forward – without compromising quality or aesthetics – despite current conditions.

Don’t let the price of lumber hold you back. Contact DesignCell to discuss your project and determine the best building method for you!

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