The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found in 2001 that the use of ICF construction added about 3% to 5% to the purchase price of a conventional wood-frame home. These estimates should be treated with caution. However, a PCA study found that the additional costs associated with insulated concrete construction depend on the skill of the crew, and more substantial savings can be made on large projects when multiple homes are built using this method. Simply put, local contractors may take on an ICF project, but they may not have the necessary expertise to implement it, resulting in additional costs.
In addition, the more significant cost of building a typical ICF home does not necessarily pay for itself in energy savings and home insurance alone.
Modern Concrete House
Other benefits of concrete houses
Resistance to natural disasters
The most crucial attribute in favor of concrete construction is its structural safety. Implicit in the lower average cost of insuring ICF homes is the understanding that ICF homes are better able to withstand natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. ICF homes typically "recover" from hurricanes much faster than wood-frame homes because the exterior walls can withstand a storm and only need a new roof after such an event. In comparison, wood-frame houses in the same areas are usually devastated by hurricanes, which means a longer time to repair for residents and a longer time to obtain insurance. Concrete has much better tensile strength and much better resistance to wind loads. ICF walls have been tested for tornado resistance by exposing them to impacts from 50x150 lumber moving at 100 mph. Although the impact resistance of standard wood frame wall construction can be improved to a level suitable for protection against moderate hurricanes and less severe tornadoes, it is not advantageous to retrofit an ICF wall with comparable performance.
Concrete houses have more chances to withstand tornadoes
Concrete houses also have superior fire-resistant properties compared to wood-frame dwellings. For example, solid concrete walls can withstand up to four hours of extreme fire exposure, while typical wood-frame walls in homes typically cannot withstand more than one hour under the same conditions. Most municipal building codes require at least 15 minutes for residential buildings, although different requirements apply for apartment buildings, apartments, and townhouses. Also, concrete is not a combustible building material and cannot contribute to the growth and spread of fire in a building; wood is an excellent fuel for a fire.
An additional advantage for homeowners interested in using concrete in construction is that concrete homes last much longer than their wood-framed counterparts. It is difficult to accurately estimate the longevity benefits of different building materials. However, concrete is known to have additional resistance to moisture and many other environmental factors. On the other hand, Wood is prone to rot in areas where water often penetrates the exterior weather barrier of the house.