You Had Me at “Concrete”

ICF Training SLC, UT 2019
Photo Courtesy ICF Builder Magazine

A big thank you to everyone who came out for the Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) training in Salt Lake City last week! 150 contractors and other professionals involved in the construction industry signed up and 140 showed up! Fortunately, everyone was gracious when we ran out of seats and it became a standing-room-only event.

After our continental breakfast, Scott Reynolds, Chairman, URMCA, and Vice President of Altaview Concrete, welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked “… great people from all over the country who came here to help educate us on this great opportunity which we all can utilize to help us pour more ready-mix!”

Along with Scott, there were plenty of experts on hand, including Patrick Matsche, Heather Echevarria, Troy Peterson, Brett Snarr, and Randy White.

Together, we all discussed the many challenges in the construction business, including new regulations, environmental concerns, rising costs, building safety issues, and the ever-increasing pressure on timelines.

Over the course of the day, we addressed everything from ICF Codes to health and safety, from environmental and technical benefits to man hour rates and estimating, from product variations and design options to site preparation, and then went through the entire construction process.

The ICF Installation Training Workbook: Expanding Your Business with Insulating Concrete Forms, produced by ICFMA (Concrete Forms Manufacturing Association), Build with Strength, and NRMCA (National Ready Mixed Concrete Association), guided the training sessions and discussions, including:

· the specific characteristics of ICFs

· the benefits of ICF construction

· the construction advantages and efficiencies of ICFs

· the interaction between trades and ICF installation requirements and techniques

· how ICF technology can expand business opportunities

The fact that using Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) can satisfy so many constraints for so many different construction projects, while really minimizing the downside, was exciting news to many of the attendees. In particular, these characteristics and benefits of ICFs were roundly applauded:

· The flexibility of ICFs for all type of designs

· Their strength! ICF constructions are built to last a hundred years or more

· Their strength, durability, and energy efficiency make them a sustainable material

· They are safe! An ICF structure is much safer when it comes to fires, storms, floods and other natural and man-made occurrences

· The noise-dampening quality of the forms

· Clients love that these structures are essentially maintenance-free, plus they do not rust, mildew, or mold

The news that NRMCA provides free design assistance through The Design Center also received applause.

As Patrick Matsche, NRMCA, Senior Director, Building Innovations, explained regarding the Design Center: “…we will look at a project from a cost perspective. Our primary objective for the Build With Strength program is to convert those wood, steel, and masonry projects to ready-mixed concrete. The reason that we think that ICF is the way to go is that we can compete at first cost against wood — and we will prove that to you in an analysis based on your specific project in your specific location.”

He continued:

“Right now, in the state of Utah, … there are 233 projects in the pre-design stage representing over $1 billion of new construction! We can help you secure these projects by approaching the owners of these projects and businesses with the tools and ammunition available through the Design Center and Build With Strength program. And this service is free to you!”

Also discussed was the range of building types that are compatible with ICFs:

· Residential

· Multi-Story

· Commercial

· Institutional

· Hospitality

· Churches

· Theatres

· Industrial

· Agricultural

· Safe Rooms (FEMA)

Heather Echevarria, Owner, Innovative Custom Homes, Boise, ID, commented, “As a homebuilder who has used ICF systems, it was great to get another perspective on this exciting building system and the range of construction projects they are suitable for.”

The consensus with the attendees, no matter their experience with ICFs, was reflected in Troy Peterson’s, Candlelight Commercial Construction, comment that “Today’s training session was very interesting. It has been an eye-opener and I am considering how to apply what I’ve learned and get more information to see what would be beneficial in my business. I am involved in multi-family development and I can see a ton of big benefits for this type of construction. I will definitely consider using the Design Center to evaluate future projects and costs.”

Obviously, we agree with ICF Builder Magazine, where they state that “Insulating Concrete Forms are the future of the building industry. Popular for both residential and commercial ICF construction, ICFs create homes and businesses that are energy-efficient, fire-resistant, sound-proof, and durable. Properly constructed, they are tornado and hurricane-proof, and stand up to earthquake, fire, and other natural disasters equally well. Many homes conserve energy so well that heating and cooling costs are reduced by 50-70 percent.”

In conclusion, Brett Snarr, from For-Shor Company, summed it up perfectly:

“I’ve been involved with ICF for 15-20 years. Today’s session was exciting because there was so much participation from different trades, and such a good turnout, including builders, architects, and engineers. My company provides a variety of forms for the building trade – and ICF is a great product. There is no stripping, no cleaning, and it is super lightweight. Build your dream home with ICF. Seriously, I love ICF.”