Which ICF should I use? What is the best ICF? How much does it cost to build using an ICF?
So you have landed on this page to get some information in the hope of assisting you with the decision of which Insulated Concrete Form to build with.
Why I choose StyroStone for the preferred ICF system.
Do you have a bag for life or do you continue to pay 5p every time you shop then throw the bag away.
If you have a choice of car will you pick a Lada or a Rolls Royce , a VolksWagon or a Mercedes. There is a reason some things are cheaper. They are not as good. You get what you pay for.
Do you use a Hoover? A Dyson? or a vacuum cleaner.
It is fact that all ICF's or PIF's were known generically as StyroStones. As building with them became more and more popular many variations emerged on the market.
One of the first questions most people ask is what is the price for building with an ICF?
Surely a better question is what is the cost. There is always someone who will do it cheaper. The price is what you pay however in the long run it can cost you dearly.
In what way will a cheap system cost me more?
If you use a system that comes in flat pack form your labour costs will be accelerated considerably.
It is much more time consuming to put the components together on site.
There is also the risk that ties will inadvertently be left out. There is a greater chance of bursts during the pour.
Some systems have metal ties. These are potential thermal bridges it also means risk of injury on sharp ends and more effort to cut to size.
Some systems have styrofoam ties. These are potential acoustic/fire breaks.
Some systems are less dense and can not take the pressure of mass concrete being poured from hieght. This means more pump visits to pay for and extra labour expense.
StyroStone is a complete system. It comes in factory assembled fully moulded together units thus reducing the possibility of bursts during the pour. There is less requirement for additional timber bracing around windows and doors. It has zero thermal bridging due to hard plastic ties and can provide any U value requirement by using the VIB STONE-link. The StyroStone 350mm neopor block supersedes Passiv Haus requirements with its 0.147W/m2 U value. It can be filled in 3m high lifts with ease.
Some systems have inferior U values to styrostone https://www.styrostone.co.uk/r-value.html- this is fine for use on outbuildings , swimming pools etc however when self building your dream home surely you will want to eliminate energy bills as far as possible. After all it is pointless having a dream home that you can not afford to live comfortably in.
Consider that you built with a cheap inferior system. Your energy bills continue to rise year on year draining any cashflow. However if you build with StyroStone , your energy bills are minimal. The extra money you save could be used to clear your mortgage off years earlier or you could afford to use the savings towards a holiday a better car or basically better lifestyle.
You may only do a self build once in your life. Build it to your best ability. Build it right. Build it air tight. Build it using energy efficient StyroStone.
StyroStone® supply scandal
Potential self builders aiming to construct their new dream homes should be made aware of a clever play on words being used by some unscrupulous ICF contractors.
ICF's (Insulated Concrete Forms) also known as PIF's (Permanent Insulated Formwork) have been known generically as styrostones. Building blocks constructed from styrofoam. However as the popularity of this modern method of construction soars so do the inevitable availability of imitations grow.
There are a number of excellent reputable products on the market each with their own merits and also downsides. The original styrostone system was produced in 1950 and named the Iglu-system.
Since then many ICF's have emerged.
StyroStone® are one of the oldest and highly respected companies in the ICF business. Their system has been imitated world wide and variations to the design have enabled any breach of copyright. The family run company are sadly victims of its own success. Nowadays when a prospective client enquires to a construction contractor or ICF supplier “do you build with/ supply styrostone they inevitably reply YES. Of course they are being truthful to a degree, they will build with styrostones -stones made from Styrofoam.
They are not however using the official STYROSTONE® brand. The client may think they are “getting a deal” by not buying off the official web site. Beware! they could be using an inferior product and the client does not know any different. The risks are that the substitute product does not have any accredited certification. The insulation values could be lower or the density of styrofoam much lower than the real thing. The pitfalls are that mortgage companies will not lend on uncertified systems. If the thermal insulation values are not adequate – energy bills will be higher. If the block density is low there is a risk of blow outs during the concrete pour.
HOW CAN YOU TELL??
In Wales we have a renowned delicacy known as the Clark's Pie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark%27s_Pies. It is a pie to die for!
There is an art to eating one of these gems, acquired only after years of practise. Once mastered you would never eat anything but the original Clarke's Pie. Many bakers have tried to copy this delicacy they fail miserably. How do you know you are buying the real thing- it is embossed into the base pastry of the pie “CLARPIE”.
How do you know if you are in fact getting the real deal and buying Styrostone ® ?
Quite simply the real Styrostone® has the logo embedded into the walls of every stone. Each pack of blocks comes on a pallet marked with the StyroStone ® logo.
Do not settle for anything less than real Styrostone's, Like the original pie ,they just won't rest easy on the pallet.
Please be aware that CleanFootprint Ltd only use the original StyroStone ® products.
This property has been built on the site of an existing property that was only approx 25 year old.
However it was to building regs of that age.
The client gave us a brief of the required renovation program. It involved new windows, rewire, replumb, extend and knock a few rooms into one.
We sat with the client and explained that despite the revamp it would still be in-efficient energy wise. Why not demolish and rebuild exactly how they wanted it in new energy efficient StyroStone. That way they would have a brand new build with all of their wish list and it would be a quicker time scale. Also by building new they could reclaim all the VAT.
That coupled with the fact that they would be forever making savings on their energy bills swung the decision to go for it. Six months later they have their dream home.
This is one of four similar demolish and rebuilds of perfectly habitable properties that we have carried out for clients in the last 18 months. All have been within a 4 mile radius! We must be doing something right.
Retrofit & replicate
After spending the last 5years living in an eco friendly energy efficient StyroStone property in Spain we moved back into our old property in the UK.
Pembroke terrace case study
This project involved the complete renovation of a Victorian end of Terrace to modern standards.
The Bath Project
The project in 16 Pultney Gardens, Bath, is particularly significant due to the fact that Bath is aiming to become the retrofit Capitol of the UK .
The team at Clean Footprint is made up of a nucleus of highly experienced construction contractors ranging from groundworks specialists to formwork ,civil engineering and specialist house builders.
The team have all worked together on various projects over a period spanning 20yrs.
All have the common goal of providing a superior standard of quality in their product and ensuring that the construction period is reduced to a minimum without compromise.
As ICF Contractors we aim to provide a service tailored to individual project requirements whilst respecting environmental issues.
Clean Footprint promotes the use of StyroStone insulating forms for its structural wall elements.
Having researched the market for 10yrs we find that although most ICF providers are of high quality, StyroStone have the edge with their broad spectrum of blocks providing the requisite u value to suit individual projects and their “complete system” eliminating the need for additional timber shuttering around windows , door openings etc.
Contact us at for more information.