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#36112 03/28/04 02:41 PM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 159
CRW Offline OP
I just heard of "insulating concrete form" construction for the first time today. It's basically a set of styrofoam forms that snap together like building blocks, and then concrete is poured in it. This is for residential construction. Has anyone here had any experience with wiring a house like this? It appears that the wiring is done after the concrete is poured, by cutting channels in the styrofoam and embedding the wiring. There is some means of fastening the drywall over the styrofoam, like plastic strips (to screw into) built into the forms, or something like that.

I'm wondering how one protects the wiring in this type of construction, and if the electrical instalation is very time consuming. My friend who told me about this said he heard ICF homes were the quickest to install power, plumbing, etc., in, but somehow I don't believe this. Anyone know about this stuff?

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,374
I've never seen it installed, but I know that we've had a few of these in my sity. Unfortunatly, these were installed in a part of the city that I don't normally inspect, one of the other guys does.

I have been to a class on ICF construction, and I asked about the same thing you did. The response I got was to use masonry boxes and EMT stubs out of them. Sounded like a pain in the rear to me.

I too am curious about this stuff. Anybody else ever seen or heard about it?

Ryan Jackson,
Salt Lake City
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
Anybody else ever seen or heard about it?

Only on the "Hometime" TV show, I believe it was wired as CRW had said channeling the foam and fastening the boxes to the concrete, sounds like a pain to me too.

A friend has been doing a side job of a post and beam house with the premade foam panels, (plywood foam sheetrock) and has had a lot of learning to do.


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
I've done timber-framed houses with those foam panel walls. The GC showed us neat trick (he of course had done many more than we had). We used a gem box (old work) cut into the plywood. Then take a torch to a plumb bob and drop it down the wall. It would melt it's way right down the wall. Not sure what kind of fumes we were exposing ourselves to.

But to CRW's question: No haven't heard of that construction before. The only thing that sounds like a pain to me is learning a new technique, otherwise its all work no matter how you do it. (its all a pain). Just like the rope guys cringe at the thought of new homes in EMT. It's all I've ever done, and once you get the routine down, it's not that hard.

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 159
CRW Offline OP
yay! Let's hear it for EMT houses!

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
Check out an older, not classic, THIS OLD HOUSE, PBS.

They LOVED it. Cut the channels with a CHAINSAW. Ran Romex.

Its biggest 'problem' is the pure novelty.

Roping in is, apparently, even easier than wood frame construction.

Check out the PBS footage.

Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 42
I have done several of these foam form houses- usually stick built home on a basement poured out of these. they are a major PITA. depending on the forms used the foam thickness is 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches thick. AHJ's here want all electrical and lv (phone and tv) in conduit and boxes. no matter how thick the wall foam is- usually do all of the runs in the ceiling cavity and do vertical drops useing emt down to a 4 sq box and a mudring. in our cold climate the problem has come up later on after we do the noching of the foam and install the conduit the cold permeates the void and the wall will form condensation in these vertical areas on the surface of the drywall. so now we usually have to spray foam over our conduit so it has a similar insulation value as the rest of the wall....any questions? also very very messy.lots of foam beads all over!

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