Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs): CDBG Project Launches Builder into ICF Market

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“ICFs are certainly the wave of the future. It’s to your advantage to be on the cutting edge of technology because it will expand your market reach and bring you new clients.”

— Rick McGuire


Rick McGuire, President of American Dreamscape, began using insulating concrete forms (ICFs) when he won a bid to build low-income homes through the City of Lubbock’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, which allocates funds to builders to construct or rehabilitate homes for low-income families. ICFs are a required technology for the Lubbock program. Brad Reed, a Lubbock CDBG administrator, explains why:

Because of their energy savings and storm-resistance qualities, ICFs are required in construction of all CDBG homes built in Lubbock, Texas.”In 1997, I went to Austin to explore better ways of building,” says Reed. “Builders there were using structural insulated panels (SIPS) and ICFs and getting good energy efficiency out of the homes they built. Because Lubbock gets a lot of tornados, it was imperative that the homes we were building through CDBG be able to withstand strong winds. At first, we were letting homeowners choose stick frame over concrete construction, but the energy savings and the storm-resistance qualities of homes made with ICFs were so much better that we ended up making it a requirement for all the CDBG homes built in Lubbock.”


“Homes built with ICFs are more energy efficient than traditional stick-frame homes. The sound barrier they provide is amazing. Sometimes you can see a lawn mower outside but you’ll barely be able to hear it inside an ICF home. They are also stronger and better able to withstand tornado damage. That safety factor is a key reason for building with ICFs in this region.”

“I don’t need traditional wall insulation because I am already using ICFs. They also make it easier to build tornado shelters. Because your crew is already laying the ICFs, you don’t need to wait for another crew to come in and lay down cinder block or concrete for a shelter as you would with a stick-framed home.”

“I am a believer in the technology. If I were building my own home I would certainly use them. I certainly expect ICFs to be a part of our business practices in the future, even outside our participation in the CDBG program.”


McGuire learned how to use ICFs through a three-day training session with Polysteel sponsored by the City of Lubbock. Because one of McGuire’s homes was selected as a field demonstration site for the training, he obtained hands-on experience.

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