It all started with an ad
By: Carole McMichael
"Years ago," says Mike Evans, owner of Evans Construction, "I built commercial tilt-up. One day, I saw an ad for an ICF block and called the manufacturer. I checked out a house built with it near by. It was the builder's first, and he said he hadn't had any problems. I looked at it and thought, 'This is the way to go.' I built my own house and also had no problems. Then I began to get calls from people to build them an ICF house. And it all started from an ad in a magazine."
When Evans started building with ICFs, there were just a few concrete homes in the greater Sacramento, Calif. area. Now, he guesses, there are probably about 80, half of which were built by his company.
"I was a little nervous when building that first ICF house," Evans says, "because I was working with a system that was untested in that area. But the actual experience was kind of nice for three reasons. One, I was able to do it myself without a big crew; two, the ICFs went together just like they were supposed to - I didn't have any blowouts or any problems; and three, this stuff is really light. I wasn't nearly as fatigued or tired as I used to be when I built with wood frame.
"The first house did take longer to build than a similar sized wood-frame house. But that was because I was getting accustomed to a new system and I was going slow enough not to forget any of the steps. But still, it was slower than wood-frame by only a few days, and got faster after that. The more you build, the more you get to know where you can do shortcuts."
Five years ago, few people in the area had even heard of ICFs. Now, most of the clients who come to Evans are familiar with them or have seen a project. Some know the difference between blocks and amaze him with their technical questions. Others simply get acquainted with the system and are sold on the concept. Deciding they want an ICF-built house is only half the problem - clients have to find an ICF builder.
"I think a lot of clients now get referred to me because I've done so many homes," Evans says. "There used to be only a few of us building with ICFs in this area, but the number has doubled every year since I started."
Making the change