ICF News Roundup Housing Turnaround in Sight
According to a new report by Moody’s Economy.com, home prices in the 381 metropolitan areas surveyed have already dropped an average of 25%, and will fall another 11% before stabilizing in late 2009.
“Notwithstanding the intensifying economic gloom, the bottom of the housing downturn is within sight for the nation," said Mark Zandi, an author of the report. "
Other analysts say that a sustained turnaround is still months away, and may not begin until 2010, due to the glut of unsold properties on the market. But these numbers indicate that the worst may be behind us.
WOC Report Attendance at World of Concrete, held the first week of February in Las Vegas, Nev., was down significantly, a somewhat expected result of the current weak economy. The official attendance number is about 65,000, a drop of 23% from the nearly 85,000 that came to last year’s show.
However, many of the exhibitors related to the ICF industry reported they were pleasantly surprised by the number of leads the show produced. Most noted an increase in serious inquiries and fewer "tire kickers."
Many major ICF manufacturers stayed away from the International Builder Show (IBS), held two weeks earlier in the same convention hall, to maximize their exposure at WOC. As in years past, most ICF manufacturers were in the North Hall.
The ICF Builder Awards, the annual “project-of-the-year” competition, were also presented at the show. More than 250 of the most influential personalities in the industry enjoyed an relaxing evening of socializing and networking after the presentation.
Price Reductions Create Stir As crude oil prices continue to fall, a pair of ICF manufacturers are raising eyebrows by decreasing their prices.
“We’ve lowered our prices four out of the last six months,” says Dave Jackson, sales and marketing manager at Fox Blocks. “Just this month, we took another 4.2% reduction. Prices on our block haven’t been this low since 2006.” Lite-Form Technologies, which manufactures Lite-Deck, Lite-Form, and Flexx-Block, has also lowered prices significantly.
The two primary materials used in ICFs, polypropylene (PP)and expanded polystrene (EPS), are petrochemicals, meaing they are made from crude oil.
“As oil prices have fallen, we’ve been able to dramatically reduce the cost of polypropylene and polystyrene,” explains Dave Hall, marketing director at Lite-Form. “We’ve chosen to pass those savings along to our distributors and customers.”
ICW Offers Franchise Opportunity Insulated Concrete Walls (ICW) is now selling franchises for select regions of North America. Launched in 2003, ICW has quickly become an industry leader in the professional installation of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). With offices in Florida, California, Arizona, and Colorado, they are one of the only installation subcontractors with operations coast to coast.
At the World of Concrete show in Las Vegas, COO Jeff Alexander announced they would now be franchising their business model in additional areas.
Initial setup is $30,000 per market, with 50% due at signing, and 5% of all sales revenue. That’s on top of equipment and office set up. Alexander estimates that total initial costs (outside of the franchising fees) will be $100,000 to $150,000. For those already in the ICF business, start-up costs will be substantially less.
For more information, or to download an application form, visit www.icwalls.com.
GridWall Files For Bankrupcy Amazon Forms One, Inc. a Texas-based ICF manufacturer, has filed for bankruptcy. The company manufactured Grid-Wall, a cement-EPS composite block, and was headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.
Nudura vs. Fox Blocks Suit Settled A lawsuit between Airlite Plastics, owner of Fox Blocks ICF, and Nudura Corp., another ICF manufacturer, has been settled. The suit was filed by Nudura and Polyform in October of 2007, alleging the design of Fox Block infringed on its patents.
The case went to court earlier this year in Omaha, Neb., and in March 2009, the judge decided that Airlite had not infringed on Patent No. 6,401,419, which covers various aspects of the tie and interlock used on Nudura’s trademark green foam panels.
Lite-Deck Offers Greener Top Hats Lite-Deck, an EPS forming system used on floor decks, balconies, and tilt-up construction, is now more sustainable than ever.
Beginning last fall, Lite-Form Technologies began using 100% recycled foam in the “top hats” that control the depth of the concrete beam pockets. The move created considerable discussion in the industry, with some claiming it constituted deceptive advertising.
“Our recycled top hats truly contain 100% recycled content,” states Dave Hall, marketing director at Lite-Form. “Of course, we still offer top hats made with virgin material, but our recycled hats are 100% regrind.”
Logix Unrolls ‘Greenbate’ Program In March, Logix announced a new “Greenbate for Homes” program. Under the new program, single family homes that certify under any of the major green building programs will receive a rebate of one dollar per full-height block used. To qualify, the home must feature full height (footing to roof) Logix ICF exterior walls. The first shipment must be made in 2009, and certified no later than Dec. 31, 2010. In addition, owners must agree to supply Logix with energy data and photos of the home. For more information, visit www.logixicf.com.
Tax Deduction Extended
As part of the recent economic stimulus legislation, energy efficient commercial buildings can qualify for a tax deduction. If the building saves 50% on energy costs, the owner could save as much as $1.80 per sq. ft. A smaller deduction can be taken for less efficient buildings.
Before claiming the deduction, the owner must obtain written certification from a professional engineer not related to the company, using approved software that the required energy savings will be achieved.
For more information, consult with a qualified accountant about the Section 179D(a) deduction. It is set to expire at the end of 2013.
ICFs: The Only Green Concrete
Concrete has many advantages in the green construction market. But as a stand alone product, it cannot be considered sustainable. When combined with EPS foam, however, it becomes extremely energy efficient. In fact, insulated concrete forms are arguably the most cost-effective type of energy efficient construction.
That’s great news for the industry because 56% of builders report that building green makes it “easier” or “much easier” to market in a down economy. Fully 60% of builders claim home buyers are willing to pay more for green homes.
Integrating Green Technologies
ICFs are a great start towards sustainability. They’re durable, disaster-resistant, use local materials, and are easily recycled. Additionally, they’re incredibly energy efficient and readily available.
To be truly sustainable, though, ICF construction should be coupled with other green technologies, like spray foam, high-efficiency windows, and ground source heat pumps to maximize their benefit.
Luckily, these technologies are readily available and easily integrated with ICFs.
Here are several practical new technologies for conserving energy….
Project Profile: Custom Homes LEED to Green
In the middle of the worst housing slump in recent memory, a few builders are finding that green certification really does pay off.
The Spring Street Duplex in Ann Arbor, Mich., is just one example. Built by Meadowlark Builders, the home offers a host of green features that led to one unit being certified LEED-Gold. The other is pending LEED-Platinum certification.
Both homes sold months before the project was finished. Builder Doug Shelby reports that, “During one of the worst years for Ann Arbor real estate since the 1930’s, these homes sold at prices more than 20% higher than other comparable homes in the area.”
Insulated Storage Facilities
ICFs are a great choice for building cold storage and climate-controlled storage, facilities. Cold storage refers to refrigerated buildings that contain food or agricultural products. ICF products have been used sporadically in this market, and they are becoming increasingly common. Climate-controlled storage refers to rentable storage units used by individuals and businesses to store belongings that need to be maintained at a constant temperature and humidity.
ICF construction brings a number of monumental benefits to both of these markets…