Now it's your turn to build a house!
If you are like most folks you've taken hundreds of pictures, visited countless models, spent endless amounts of time searching the internet for ideas, and have talked the ears off of your friends and family. Finally, the waiting is over and it is time to get started. It's your turn to build a house and you want it to be perfect.
But, where do you go from here?
It is our hope that you'll take a few minutes to read about a construction technique that fundamentally alters the entire building process from start to finish. It's a construction technique that does not require any design constraints to how your build your house and is a system that ends up giving you a safer, stronger and less expensive home than one built from wood.
Best of all, it is a construction system that reduces your costs to both build as well as to operate your home. It is one that will save you money from the start of your project.
It is a simple request to consider building your project using two time tested and proven building materials:
Concrete and Steel, instead of wood.
We believe this building system simply "blows the conventional system of building with wood out of the water" and will not only provide you with a far better (we will explain what that means in a minute) home but it will get you into your home faster and provide you a home that will cost significantly less money to operate that a conventionally built home.
What do we mean...we mean building with Insulated Concrete Forms.
Take a minute to check out the following link: http://www.foxblocks.com/products/.
What you see in the picture above is a standard ICF form. These look like Lego blocks with hollowed out mid sections. This block, available from a host of different manufacturers are the basic building unit and is known as an insulated concrete forms. Inside this block, snapped into the webs, is re bar...the steel part of the concrete and steel. The rest of the block is filled with concrete.
After you stack these blocks together you get something that looks likes this....
The next step is the placement of re bar inside the block...
Next, you fill the form with concrete
When you are done pouring concrete, your project might look something like this...
or like this
or like this
When it is all said and done, your project may even look something like this
What does this mean to you? When your ICF home is completed you have a home that is:
- Less expensive to build than a conventionally framed wooden house as the time required to construct the home is greatly reduced. This decreased construction time lowers your loan expenses as construction loans are typically more expensive than fixed loans and allows you to convert your construction loan into a fixed rate loan up to 30% quicker than conventional construction
- Less expensive to operate:
- 1. Qualifies you for significantly reduced home owners' insurance as the risk of loss due to fire/termites etc are virtually eliminated.
- 2. Energy consumption in an ICF home is reduced up to 40% year over a conventionally built home.
- Safer than a wooden home as it resists combustion for over 4 hours vs the standard 20 minutes of wood. It mean in case of a fire, you have a lot more time to get your loved one's out and to safety.
- Stronger than a wooden home. ICF homes are the only homes left standing in areas prone to bad weather and fires as they are rated to withstand up to Category 4 hurricane winds.
- Significantly quieter than a conventionally built home as the thick exterior walls prevent outside noises from entering
- Maintains much better air quality as less air infiltrates into the home resulting in a significantly reduced allergen load.
- Gives you the coolest house on the block...both literally and figuratively.
- The "Greenest" construction practice on the market today. You are doing your part to conserve the planets resources.
So if this ICF building system is so excellent, why aren't more homes built this way?
Well, if you are like most folks when you get started on your house project chances are you'll start by asking friends who have gone before you for advice and for guidance. If you are lucky maybe you will even get the names and numbers of the contractors who helped them and then hopefully you'll be on your way. Alternatively, you may not know anyone who has built a home themselves but perhaps you've seen a new home go up in your neighborhood or on your way to work. So, next time you drive by those projects you write down the contractors number from their sign and then give them a call. Maybe you've seen an architect sign around town so you give them a call directly.
The problem is that most building professionals have had little to no exposure to the ICF industry. Most contractors know what it costs them to build a house, what their margins are and are happy doing the same thing over and over again. In their minds, why change if what you are doing works?
The reality of today's housing market is that homes are fundamentally built the same way today as they were
100 years ago...and therein lies the problem.
Living in Silicon Valley this seems strange as it is the center of technology innovation. It never ceases to dumbfound me as to why in a region where innovation is the lifeblood of the community, so many folks continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect to get a different result....that is, build their home using what I call Energy Star "Snap-On's" and expect to achieve energy savings. Giant houses continue to go up all over the Valley and almost everyone of these is conventionally built....but the tide is starting to turn. Slowly, as more and more architects, designers and builders realize the incredible opportunity in front of them more and more people are starting to embrace this revolutionary ICF building system.
Kokinos Builders recognized this incredible opportunity back in 2007 and as a consequence built one of the first, and certainly the largest ICF project in Santa Clara County up to that point in the valley. Now, 6 years later we continue to help homeowners understand the benefits of this system and how it is revolutionizing the industry. We have a track record of excellence and have a team of building professionals from architects, engineers and subcontractors experienced and willing to help build you the best home you could ever create.
Give us a call and we will be there to help.
A couple last thoughts...
Wherever you start, the most important thing to understand is that choosing the right builder is like choosing a spouse....only harder. Most people date for at least a little while before they pop the question these days but unfortunately, when you sign on with a builder seldom do you have more than a few meet and greets before you have a contract in front of you for one of the most expensive items you will ever buy in your life. What most people often overlook when choosing a builder is that this single act of choosing the right contractor is most likely the most important decision they will make in the entire process. Done right, nothing can match the pride you will feel once you've finished the project and the contractor hands you a key to your new house. Done wrong and you might end up spending more of your money in court that you did on your house.
One of the best steps you can take to protect yourself along these lines is to draw the line at working with a licensed contractor. Guaranteed you will get a lower price from an unlicensed builder than from a licensed contractor but you are taking a huge risk as well as breaking the law by doing this. California law states that any payments over 500 dollars to a person in the trades requires that person receiving the money to have a license to do this kind of work.
The other most important thing to remember is that the lowest price doesn't always get you the best value. Not a day goes by when I don't hear about a homeowner telling me about how such and such gave them a great price on their project in order to win the bid only to watch their price rise every time a nail did not go where it showed it on the original plans. Undoubtedly, one of the most difficult part of this job is working with people who know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
That said, building a beautiful home will cost you a lot of money...and here is where it gets important. For most folks a lot of money means a lifetime of savings plus a big fat new loan they just got from the bank for a million plus dollars. For the lucky few Silicon Valley entrepreneurs the money may represent a lot of options that just vested or the proceeds from their latest start-up. Either way, no one want to spend money where they don't need to and certainly, no one wants to get ripped off.
So, what goes so wrong in so many contractor engagements?
As with most things in life, unmet expectations are at the heart of most conflicts. Either explicit or implicit, when deadlines are missed, money gets tight or materials are late showing up thus throwing you off schedule, plans change.
Needless to say, effective planning is a crucial first step towards the successful execution of any project but, even the best laid plans "mature and evolve" as a structure takes shape. Knowing how to balance these "IN PROCESS CHANGES" against the realities of time lines and budgets is what differentiates us from our competitors...and is typically the root of all problems in a construction project.
And that is why we believe the best project are those where the homeowner chooses their contractor early to work with their chosen design professionals to collectively figure out the best way to tackle the job ahead. Designers and Architects are only part of a strong building team but the best teams and the best projects happen when the contractor building the project gets involved from the start and helps the homeowner and design professionals figure out a strategy to help keep costs under control while still delivering or most likely exceeding the home owners original expectations.
Be it state of the art chilling units vs traditional condensing units to minimize AC costs, self-draining foundation forms, radiant heating systems vs ground source heating and cooling to maintain optimal internal temperatures, Styrofoam flooring, Spray foam insulation, heat exchangers, IT systems, home automation and computer controlled lighting etc., building a great home means understanding the project as a series of interdependent systems, each working in harmony with the other, each optimized to perform to the best of their design specifications. We believe our job is to present homeowners intelligent time saving options that minimize both construction costs and operational costs...not because they are "new", "sexy" or "cool"... but because it is building innovation at work. What this means is simple: our clients get a significantly better home at a greatly reduced overall cost. It about helping our clients get exactly what they want in timely manner each and every time we work with someone.
Part of this process involves us helping our clients understand the difference between the cost to build a structure and the cost to operate this structure. Our willingness to integrate state of the art building techniques and materials into our projects allows us to innovate faster than our competitors and results in our ability to improve against industry standard benchmarks. Our ongoing quest to be the best we can be enables us to expedite our delivery timetable and to help our customers drive down their costs without sacrificing design, quality, or functionality.
And that is why we believe using ICF forms are the best option for today's homeowners. They create the best overall value and do so in a way that brings long lasting benefits to the homeowner.