Around the block
McCoy's experience building with dozens of different blocks on the market gives him a unique perspective in the industry. The best advice McCoy can give is to get to know the block you're working with. "You would not want to build a large structure with a block you haven't used before," he says. "With a new block, you want to start with something small, test it out and make sure you learn the different nuances of it."
You also want to make sure the block you pick is designed to work for the structure you're building, whether it's a foundation, a house or a commercial project. "The features we've found that are pretty important for a commercial project include looking for one of the sturdier blocks out there because the pour heights are going to be taller," he suggests. "Also, some blocks compress when you pour concrete and some don't, and you're going to want to be aware of that."
In the end, though, it's not all about the block. "I think the most important feature of an ICF block really isn't the block itself but the company standing behind it," McCoy says.
South River Construction has been busy with a variety of ICF projects in recent months. McCoy's team recently completed a safe room for a residential client - a common request in Texas where basements are rare but people still need protection from storms and tornadoes. ICF construction is a nice choice for these types of small projects because McCoy can send two employees with a minimal number of tools to the jobsite and it can be finished in two days.
Another recent project was a 3,000-sq.-ft. home in Wimberely, Texas. With the home site located on top of a hill, the owners wanted a building system that would offer storm protection and contribute to the construction of a green and sustainable home. "The ICF construction integrates with a lot of green features inside the home to work toward the final result of not just a great example of green construction, but an outstanding piece of construction - no matter what school of thought you're from," McCoy says.
South River Construction is currently working on a 77-ft., six-story Hilton Garden Inn in Lewisville, Texas. This is McCoy's tallest ICF project to date. McCoy says the owner's decision to build with ICF was a simple one.
"It wasn't the energy efficiency or any other feature of ICFs that attracted the owner to this type of construction - it was about the price," McCoy says. "The project was initially written up for cinder block construction, but the ICFs were more than 5 percent less expensive."
McCoy says an added bonus for the owner is sound attenuation. With the hotel located just off Interstate 35, people staying in the hotel will be able to see the Interstate, but they won't be able to hear it.
With consumers pushing architects and builders to provide more energy efficient and storm-resistant homes, the ICF industry will continue to grow. McCoy looks forward to advancing with the industry and seeing where it will go. "What we've enjoyed is pushing the limits in terms of what you can do with ICF and what you can do with the concrete within it. We look at how we can stay within good concrete practice and stay within the needs of our owners and clients," McCoy explains. "The creativity part of that has been a lot of fun."