Concrete forms make homes more energy efficient, safe

Beth Rumsey

Staff Writer

A revolutionary construction product first used 30 years ago in Canada, has now become the choice of a Ripley County family to improve energy costs in their new home.

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are used on exterior walls and act as insulation, nailing surfaces and a vapor barrier all in one.

According to Josh Harris of Simon and Harris Construction in Derby, IN, ICFs are basically big, expanded polystyrene forms similar to Legos® that are stacked and filled with concrete and rebar to form the exterior walls of a home or other buildings.

Harris and partner, Michael Simon, started the company about 2 1/2 years ago. “We saw the energy efficient and green direction that construction was heading,” said Harris. As energy costs continue to rise, people are taking a serious look at making their home more energy efficient.

ICFs are approximately two times more energy efficient and about nine times more wind resistant, making it the product of choice in those areas of the United States prone to hurricanes. The concrete forms are also four times more fire resistant and helps to reduce outside noise.

The forms are used mostly in new construction, according to Harris. He explained that although the initial cost will increase about 3% to 5% homeowners will see an energy savings of approximately 50% to 70% in heating and cooling bills.

Simon and Harris Construction was selected by David and Sylvie Zigan to install the concrete forms for their home near Friendship. “We saw the product at the Cincinnati Home and Garden Show and thought this was the way to go,” noted David.

For Barney Adams, contractor for the Zigan home, this was the first time to use ICFs. “It was challenging at times,” he said, “but, I was happy to do it. It was a good experience.”
It takes about the same time to build with ICFs as it does to build a traditional stick built home and any floor plan can be used. According to Harris, no one would be able to tell the home was made out of concrete.

More information about insulated concrete forms can be found by visiting or by calling Josh Harris at Simon and Harris Construction at 812-719-5538.

Michael Simon, Simon and Harris Construction, demonstrates how insulated concrete forms are used in the construction of new homes. The styrofoam blocks are stacked together and filled with concrete and rebar that helps to reduce energy costs.