I am appalled by what I am hearing and seeing from the Northwest Ohio residential building community. Home builders are in denial about the changes that have taken place, and are about to take place in our world. And, if I had to take a guess, I would say that we are not the only community in the U.S. that has this problem. Home construction is one of the last industries in the United States that has still not recovered from the recession. One of the reasons for this- General Contractors and Sub-contractors refuse to change their old ways. We all need to realize that to recover we must think about what the new generation of home buyers want in a new home, and how to give them what they want at a fair price.
I was introduced to a couple a few months ago that are interested in building an ICF (insulated concrete form) home. They are originally from Europe, and in Europe most homes are built with this type or an equivalent type of system. The couple talked with three or four builders. Each one tried to talk them out of building with ICF’s. The couple could not understand why all of these builders were so dead set against building one of the most energy efficient, safe, and green homes available today. I, myself don’t understand why. My only conclusion is that they are afraid of change, or maybe not sure how to change.
The consensus in the United States today is that using concrete for construction gives the feel of living in a basement. But with all of the new advancements in ICF and Tilt Up construction a homeowner will get the feel of comfort and safety. Europe and many other countries around the world understand this, and have been using concrete and masonry construction for centuries. The only way to change the perception of concrete construction for new homes is for the building professionals to embrace it, to understand it, and to not be afraid of it.
I read somewhere that as of this year there are seven billion people on earth, and within 25 years it will be up to nine billion. These kind of numbers are staggering to me. It makes me think about what kind of life my kids and grandchildren will have on this earth if we do not take action imediatley. We all need to do everything possible now to protect our planet for future generations. The one way, we as building professionals can help is to build green. Building homes with concrete construction is a perfect example of this.
An ICF home is about as green as you can get. Concrete is considered a green building material, and so is EPS (expanded poly styrene) which is what an ICF consists of. Add a roof that is insulated to at least R-50 you are creating an envelope that is super insulated and can cut heating and cooling costs by 50 to 80 percent. Saving energy is green. When building a traditional stick frame home there will usually be a dumpster on site for left over building materials. Building with concrete construction reduces jobsite waste drastically. Saving our landfills is also green. This list can go on and on, and we all need to make “green” a part of their everyday choices.
I am just one person in the building industry trying to do my part to make this world a better place to live. I know that I am not the only one that is thinking like this, but I also think that those of us who do are in the minority. It would sure help if other building professionals would join in and take responsible action to help our industry.
By the way. The couple who would like to build with ICF construction. They are talking to the right people now, and I am sure that they will have a beautiful home no matter who builds it for them.
By: J.P. Simon
Tri State Concrete Services, Inc.
Simon Concrete Homes