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Anatomy of an ICF Home Plan Conversion
With over 2,000 home plans on our company’s website, but only 125 or so adapted for ICF construction, one of the common requests we receive is to convert traditional stick-frame homes to ICFs.
These requests come from both builders and consumers who run the gamut
of familiarity with ICF’s—from those who are just discovering
insulated concrete forms to others who are absolutely convinced
they want to build with them. The common denominator is their need
ICF home plan in order to proceed.
Virtually any design can be built with ICFs, if the designer is aware of a few basics. The conversion typically starts with stretching the exterior walls outward 7 inches to accommodate the thicker exterior walls, but usually involves much more. We’ll use the house plan printed below to illustrate.
1. Those thicker ICF exterior walls presented a challenge when it comes to the front entry. Stretching the right side of the dining room and left side of the living room potentially makes the front entry too narrow. In order to maintain the integrity of the home’s entry and keep the sidelights surrounding the door, we stretched the home 16 inches in width through the entry and family room. Stretching the entry also makes space for two additional stair risers, allowing for 9-foot ceilings on the main level walls instead of the standard 8-foot walls in the original plan.
2. Similarly, the garage would likely become too tight. This was addressed by stretching the garage both in width and depth to match the interior dimensions of the original.
3. Along the back of the house, the family room was stretched in depth to eliminate cantilevering the 2nd floor walls. This necessitated moving the breakfast area’s patio door further towards the rear. The boxed out window above the kitchen sink was eliminated in the ICF design due to the deeper window jambs inherent with ICFs. Those wider window jambs are prized by interior design professionals who prefer inside mount window coverings, such as 2” plantation shutters
4. The walk-in closet off the master bedroom grew as a result of the stretches in the main level floor plan.
5. A common misconception is that ICFs are only suited for 2-story designs where all second floor exterior walls stack over main floor exterior walls. While this is true in order to achieve 100% ICF walls, it leaves out a tremendous number of home plans.
A reasonable approach is identifying 2-story homes where most of those outside walls on the second level stack with the first floor walls. On the Manning plan, some second floor walls, (shown in red) including those over the garage and around the stairway, did not make sense to build with ICFs. Had ICFs been used in those instances, additional structural members would have been required, adding considerable expense. In keeping with the superior energy efficiency and quietness of an ICF home, we designed these walls to be double-framed, allowing for added insulation.
Who should re-draw an existing home plan for ICFs? First, check with
the designer or architect of the original plan. They may have a stipulation
that they are the only ones who can make any changes to their home
plans, so you would need to work with them on adapting the plan. Many
including our company, Design Basics, will make plan modifications
or allow other competent design professionals to make the changes
Finally, the question of copyright often comes up. An ICF version of a home plan, even with other changes, is considered a ‘derivative work’ and protected under the designer’s original copyright. Someone choosing to modify an existing home plan that they found on the internet or in a magazine for ICFs, would subject themselves to a copyright infringement lawsuit and potentially a $150,000 judgement. That makes spending $800 or $900 for the actual designer’s home plans a safe investment indeed!
To inquire about converting any of our home plans into an ICF adapted home plan, call Trish Baker at 1.800.947.7526 x 140.
OTHER INSULATED CONCRETE FORM RESOURCES
Concrete Homes - Portland Concrete Association
ICF Build Magazine - The Insulating Concrete information Source
Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 4:11 PM