2011 Small Residential
2nd Runner-Up

When Marvin and Dolores Groves began planning their dream home in Bastrop, Texas, they knew they wanted to do it right. They generated “mounds of research” looking at the best way to create an appealing, comfortable house that was as durable and independent as possible. They contacted James Johnson at Integrated Wall Systems, a local Amvic ICF distributor, early on in the process, but more than a year went by before Johnson convinced them that he had the product and construction know-how to make their dream a reality. Matt Zetlmeisl of ICF Constructors got the nod to do the install.

While the design was not particularly challenging, the jobsite was. Situated in a remote forest setting, cell phone reception was spotty at best. All electricity came from a portable generator, as there was none onsite, and the owner wanted it to stay “off-the-grid.”

All electrical needs are met by a combination of solar panels and battery storage. For emergencies, an emergency diesel-powered generator is onsite. To deal with the Texas heat, the house uses 5 mini-split air conditioners that can be operated easily by solar and battery backup. In winter, heat is supplied by a single high-efficiency wood-burning fireplace and an enclosed southern porch for passive solar.

Amvic’s 6” core ICF was used for the exterior walls from the footings to the top of the gables. An adjacent building housing the solar energy system electronics and battery array utilizes 4” core ICF.

Six months after the home was completed, a massive wildfire broke out nearby. Characterized by the Houston Chronicle as “one of the most devastating wildfires in Texas history,” it burned over 32,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 homes.

While the Groves had to evacuate due to the proximity of the flames, they were confident that their dream home would be spared. Fortunately their faith in ICFs didn’t have to undergo a trial by fire.

Marvin Groves reports, “Although spared from direct wildfire impingement, this home would have survived with little more than staining and paint damage had the fire consumed the site.”

And while neighbors waited—sometimes for weeks—for power to be restored so they could return home, the Groves were able to return home while all surrounding electrical infrastructure was offline.

Project Statistics

Location: Bastrop, Texas
Type: Private Residence—Custom Home
Size: 2,900 sq. ft. (conditioned)
ICF Use: 3,200 sq. ft. (All exterior walls)
Cost: $280,000
Total Construction: 180 days
ICF Installation time: 10 days


Construction Team

Owner: Marvin Groves
General Contractor: Touchstone Builders
ICF Installer: ICF Constructors
Form Distributor: Integrated Wall Systems, Inc.
Architect: Deliniations
Engineer: ATS Engineers
ICF System: 6” core Amvic

Fast Facts

Off-grid home powered by solar photovoltaics with diesel generator and battery backup
Wood-fired furnace and passive solar for heat, 5 mini A/C units for cooling
Remote forest setting
Construction crews used generator for electrical needs
Survived nearby wildfire
Featured in farm magazine



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