2018 Large Residential
2nd runner-Up

Tuscan Place is the latest addition to an exclusive neighborhood that already features eight ICF homes of various sizes. It’s also the largest and most complex. Located near Corpus Christi, Texas, the property has a 5,000-sq.-ft. main residence, 935-sq.-ft. guesthouse with game room, swimming pool, retaining walls, and other features.

Shayne Schroeder, the general contractor, explains, “We began building ICF homes in 2004 as a hurricane-resistant, energy-efficient means of construction. Since then, we have built over 35 ICF homes in the surrounding area.”

There were a few hurdles to overcome early in the project. The owner preferred ICF, but the designer nearly convinced him it was a bad idea. When the designer balked at modifying the plan for ICF, the builder finally made the changes himself and made the necessary submissions to the project engineer. 

The owner was closely involved in all of this. Schroeder says, “While the floor plan remained relatively the same with only minor revisions, almost all the other aspects of the project were rather fluid and designed as we progressed. Features, selections and other details would be discussed, researched and finalized just prior to the implementation of that phase of work.” For instance, the owner wanted to use the walls inside the pool house to display hunting trophies, so the plate height on the entire building was raised to 12 feet, and the trusses were vaulted to increase the available space. This kept the ceiling height of the bedroom/bathroom/closet portion of the building at the original nine feet, and provided a roomy attic space above for the mechanical equipment. 

Schroeder says, ” The owners were completely aware of the effect their selections and changes had on the budget, but since this was the last house they anticipated ever living in, they made it into what they wanted.” 

There were other uncertainties in the design that had to be resolved as well. The designer had neglected to take the 16-foot elevation difference at the site into consideration. The builder resolved this by devising a series of ICF retaining walls—300 lineal feet eight or nine feet high—to terrace the property. The front serpentine wall allows for utility easements along the front of the property. As with many aspects of this home, the layout and design of the retaining walls evolved as the house and pool house were being constructed. 

The weather was another challenge. Footings were set and washed out by torrential rains three times before they were finally poured.

As with Casa Tres Playas, the home featured on page 16, the ICF work was done by Matt Zetlmeisl at ICF Contractors, with Fox Blocks supplied by Malcolm Matthews of ICF Texas. 

It’s a complex design with more than 40 corners on the main home, along with bay windows, an octagonal turret, an ICF guesthouse, and a five-car garage. The front gable is ICF all the way to the top, reaching 30 feet above grade and poured in a single day. Additionally, there were multiple beam pockets, utility penetrations, large windows, and special ledger anchoring situations.

Schroeder says, “Careful planning, talented and experienced installers, and attention to detail ensured that the finished ICF product was straight, plumb and flat across all surfaces including all gables and long wall sections.”

The ICF portion of the project—nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of forms—took only 35 days, but change orders and weather took their toll on the overall schedule. “Despite ongoing delays, the owners were very understanding regarding the construction process and were willing to wait to make sure the quality and integrity of their new home was at its highest level,” he says. “The interior designer that I brought in to work with the owners happened to be an old friend of theirs that they had lost contact with several years earlier. This prior relationship enhanced the confidence they had in being able to get exactly what they were looking for.”

The end result is stunning. The interior features wide, open spans accented by 12- and 13-foot-high coffered ceilings. An oversized pro-style kitchen is open to a large living/dining area, perfect for entertaining or enjoying family time. Backsplashes and shower and tub surrounds were painstakingly installed using glass, stone and porcelain tiles in unique designs that complement the design of the home. Exterior stone was continued in the kitchen and living areas. Even the family dogs have their own kennel room outfitted with a tile wainscot to protect the walls, a floor drain to allow for easy cleanup of messes and an elevated doggy shower for bathing.

Stamped and stained drives and walkways outside blend with the travertine pavers on patios and porches. The outdoor living areas are nothing short of spectacular. The swimming pool is partially surrounded by sun decks and a rock waterfall. A sitting area with a fire ring is adjacent to the outdoor kitchen where a beverage cooler, ice maker, gas grille, side burner, and sink can accommodate the tastes of any crowd. 

The guest house has a large party room complete with kitchenette, a TV wall made up of nine 72” TVs capable of operating as a single TV or in various other configurations, several video game consoles, full surround sound and numerous wild animal mounts. All walls inside the party room were sheathed with plywood prior to drywall installation to facilitate hanging the animal trophies and other items on the walls. 

The owners moved in March 2017, and report that the home is remarkably efficient. The main and guest house roofs are insulated with spray foam applied to the underside of the roof decking and exceed the insulation value of the ICF walls. The house is cooled by two Trane HVAC heat pump systems with a third system in the guest house. Electric bills have been about $600 for the summer months, which includes not only the cooling costs but also the pool equipment, TV wall, multiple refrigerators, and other appliances and electronics.

The windows are impact-resistant, rated to 160 mph. This was tested last fall when Hurricane Harvey hit. The eye passed within 30 miles of the home. Knowing the strength of ICFs, the owner stayed put. He reports, “During the storm, if you didn’t look outside and see the trees whipping in the wind you wouldn’t have known there was a hurricane blowing through.” 

Despite significantly exceeding the original budget, the owners are very happy with the home, and the decision to build with ICF. 

Schroeder says, “They are very avid proponents of ICF construction and are happy to discuss their house, the experiences through construction and the results of the build with anyone willing to talk to them about it.” He adds, “Since constructing the ICF retaining walls on this project, my driveway contractor has begun using ICF for retaining walls on other projects he is working on. He is amazed at their versatility and the ease in construction
they offer.” 

Project Statistics


Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
Type: Custom Home
Size: 5,985 sq. ft. (floor)
ICF Use: 9,995 sq. ft.
Cost: $2 million+Total Construction: 125 weeks
ICF Installation Time: 35 days

Construction Team


Owner: Kenny and Lynde Polk
General Contractor: Shayne Schroeder Custom Homes
ICF Installer: ICF Constructors
Form Distributor: ICF Texas
Architect: Homes by Romel
ICF System: Fox Blocks

Fast Facts


No interior noise during Hurricane Harvey
Long walls with large window openings
Front gable 30’ high

 

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