Trio has found he can use ICF forms in conjunction with cast-in-place systems on projects to save time and money. "When doing a house foundation with ICF, I can bring in my panelized forms and do the garage foundation," he says.
Trio adds that although he hasn't found a widespread use for ICFs in the agriculture industry in his area, the ICFs have made his life easier on some jobs where he has to butt up against an existing building or an instance where it wouldn't be easy to take down the removable forms. "In unique situations like this, it reduces the cost of having a crew manually build the forms," he explains. "Even though the ICF forms are staying there, you don't have the labor involved with trying to manually and structurally build a form." He adds that these specially built forms usually end up in the trash anyway.
Kurt Matson, of Matkon Foundations in Mankato, Minn., has been in the concrete business for seven years. Matson is a licensed general contractor and started offering ICF construction as a way to set himself apart from other contractors in the area. Currently, 30 to 40 percent of his sales are associated with ICF jobs. Mostly residential, Matson still offers cast-in-place concrete walls.
Matson explains that his ICF customers are a different breed. "The ICF work we get is almost always construction-educated people who have done their research and are on their second or third house," he says. "The more educated the consumer, the better the project. They are usually higher dollar homes and the owners are easier to work with because they're knowledgeable about the process."
Matson says by the time his commercial ICF customers come to him, they have already decided to build with ICFs and are just looking for someone experienced to perform the project.
In Central Point, Ore., Darrin Thornton, a fifth-generation concrete/construction contractor, has carved out a niche for the last 12 years using ICFs in his area with his company PolySteel Alternative Building Systems, Inc. Thornton serves mostly as a subcontractor on a wide range of concrete construction jobs, including decorative concrete, flatwork, post-tensioning and ICFs.
Thornton works with ICFs on the majority of his jobs, and he says the addition of the system has expanded his mostly custom residential company into the commercial construction world. "The block offers an almost soundproof four-hour fire wall and qualifies for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points, which many commercial projects seek," he explains.
"Concrete is what we do," he continues. "And ICF lends itself to the concrete industry. On a jobsite, we can come in and do the footing, stack the wall, pour concrete in the blocks, pour garage floors and do any decorative stamping or color on the project."
Thornton says a lot of people call him because they know he offers ICF installation; then he can offer his other concrete services. "We can pick up other types of work on the job and we like that, because we know we're setting our block on something we know is square, level and flat."