Building Houses From Styrofoam

Energy efficient concrete homes slowly catch on

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego

    From the outside, the home won't look much different than other houses in this Encinitas neighborhood.  But look inside the walls and there is something very different: it is made of styrofoam and concrete.

    "The neighbors out here have just been flocking around the job site," said homeowner Steve Reeder.

    He got the idea for the foam and concrete home while living in the midwest.

    "We were going to do one back in Nebraska," Reeder said, "and we decided when we came out here we wanted to bring the same technology."

    David Livingston with Livingston Construction has been building the Insulated Concrete Foam (ICF) homes in San Diego for about 11 years.

    "The biggest benefit is the energy," Livingston said. "The more extreme the weather, the better this performs."

    The home starts with a marine grade styrofoam block. The block is made of two 2 5/8-inch sides with a plastic rib running through the foam.  The blocks are stacked on top of each other like Lego blocks with concrete poured in the middle.

    "The whole box is like living in a cooler, just like an Igloo," Livingston said. "Only it looks a little better."

    Once the reinforced concrete is set, the home won't look much different than a regular house, as stucco can be added to the outside of the foam and drywall attached on the inside.  It is far more energy efficient but also costs about 5 percent more to build.

    "So there will be very little wood on the house other than the wood doors and cabinets," Reeder said.

    The two-story house is expected to be finished in the Spring of 2012.