ICF Home Construction in Colorado: Everything You Need to Know
There’s a reason ICF-based home construction has been growing so rapidly in Colorado. Home construction in the “Centennial State” requires careful attention to Colorado’s unique climate. Most of the state is a dry, high elevation desert, with both intense sunshine and heavy snowfall. Temperatures can range from hot and dry to incredibly cold with subzero temperatures. Much of Colorado soil is thick clay which impedes drainage and makes the area more prone to flooding. Not only is water a concern, but the increasing prevalence of wildfires is another challenge.
Even though these challenges can make home building more difficult, Fox Blocks has a solution. Many of the features that make Fox Blocks so special also make their ICF blocks an excellent choice for use in Colorado home construction.
Energy-Efficient Construction in Colorado
Due to the wide variety of conditions Colorado homes are exposed to, new home construction must maximize energy-efficiency to maintain safe and comfortable conditions year round. Even though cities like Denver have some of the strictest building codes in the country, Fox Blocks far exceeds those requirements.
ICFs Create Energy-Efficient Structures
ICF blocks are inherently energy efficient, combining both a high R-value with increased thermal mass. Fox Blocks are an easy to use and affordable solution for Colorado home building. The double layers of continuous insulation (CI) and the complete thermal break between the inner and outer surface are why ICF block construction results in homes and buildings with tight building envelopes. In fact, structures built using ICF blocks typically require 44 percent less energy to heat and 32 percent less energy to cool than stick built structures.
Fox Blocks achieve an R-value of 23 making them highly competitive to anything else on the market. The structural elements of the ICF blocks from Fox Blocks exceed the requirements of both the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE 90.1) and the International Energy Conservation Code (2021 IECC).
Protecting Homes from Colorado’s Climate
Winter blizzards, monsoons, and wildfires are all dangers that Colorado home construction has to be ready for. Winter blizzards roll in during the early parts of the year and can bring heavy, devastating amounts of snowfall. Monsoon season runs from June 15 to September 30, and brings dangerous winds, hail, heavy rains, and flash flooding to the desert region.
Monsoons occur when the high pressure, cool air over the ocean flows towards the low-pressure, warm air over the land, and brings heavy winds and rains to the normally dry region. Finally, wildfires seem to be a growing threat for homes built in Colorado. The state’s increasingly hot summers combined with dry conditions can quickly turn forests into infernos.
Hot and Dry
June through August of 2021 was the third warmest on record for Denver, narrowly beaten by 2020 and 2012. In addition to seeing a near record-breaking number of 90-degree days, that summer was also the fifth driest on record.
Tight Building Envelopes with Fox Blocks
Structures built with Fox Blocks ICFs tend to have very tight building envelopes, meaning it is difficult for heat and humidity to move into or out of the house. This means that, when coupled with proper HVAC design, it is easier to keep the household at a comfortable temperature and humidity while using less energy. Whether hot and dry or freezing and snowing, you’ll be comfortable in your ICF home.
As the prevalence of severe weather has increased in Colorado, the need for better home construction has become apparent. In 2019, the largest hailstone fell in Colorado, and measured 4.83” in diameter. Going back to only 2016, the most powerful gust of wind ever recorded in Colorado was measured at 148 mph.
Wind, Hail, and Debris-Resistant Fox Blocks ICFs
Whether monsoon rains or severe weather outbreaks, Fox Blocks ICFs with steel-reinforced concrete protects against severe winds of over 200 mph. In addition, ICFs stand up to hail and projectile debris traveling over 100 mph. ICF homes are built to be durable.
Monsoons Bring Deadly Floods
Thanks to an active monsoon season and heavy storms, the first five months of 2021 were extremely wet. The rain transformed Colorado out of a drought to being completely soaked. These swings are important to understand when building for extreme environments.
Flood-Resistant Fox Blocks ICFs
In flash flood-prone Colorado, Fox Blocks ICF construction will significantly help protect your home or building and its contents from devastating floods.
Fox Blocks’ solid, monolithic concrete walls provide moisture resistance and permeability (perm rating below 1.0), ensuring that moisture that enters the wall system dries out before traveling to adjacent materials. The reinforced concrete construction won't degrade when wet, and will maintain its original integrity and shape during and after a flood.
Fox Blocks ICFs meet the ASCE 24 guidance for a flood-resistant building product: durable, moisture- and mold-resistant.
Wildfires in Colorado
In 2021, the Marshall Fire broke out just outside of Boulder, Colorado. Burning more than 6,000 acres and destroying more than 1,000 buildings, the Marshall Fire is Colorado’s most destructive fire in its history. As the rate of wildfires increases, it is becoming more important that homes are built to withstand wildfires better than ever before.
Protecting Buildings from Wildfires with ICF Construction
Protecting Colorado homes and buildings from wildfires requires passive fire-resistant construction with fireproof windows, doors, vents, roofs, and exterior walls built with Fox Blocks ICF wall systems. Fox Blocks ICF, with a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks, controls the spread of fire and smoke. Concrete is naturally fire-resistant making it inherently more resistant to fires than convention stick built homes.
Termite Problems in Colorado
In the U.S., termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage annually. Termites live in all 50 states; however, they affect homes in Colorado particularly hard because Colorado is home to many different types of termites that all swarm at different times of the year.
Concrete is naturally termite-resistant, making Fox Blocks ICF an ideal termite-resistant wall system for new home construction in Colorado. Fox Blocks lack the organic material that termites eat, making ICF less attractive to termites than wood. Even with this natural resistance, Fox Blocks suggests the application of Polyguard Products 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes for waterproofing and termite protection.
Fox Blocks ICF Construction in Colorado
Experienced designers and architects see the advantages ICF construction brings to new homes in Colorado. See one of our recent case studies that covers an ICF home built in Colorado. In addition to the reduced energy bills from both heating and cooling an ICF home, the steel-reinforced concrete keeps the home and its occupants safe year-round. ICF construction resists the dangers of severe weather, flooding, wildfires, and termites too.
Contact one of our Fox Blocks professionals today for more on why you should use ICF construction in Colorado.