This 3 bedroom, 2 bath hilltop house in the Pacific Coast Range has a 360 degree view and a lot of exposure to the weather.  The walls are made using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF).  The semi-attached garage/ shop and entry greenhouse define an entry garden.  A large Kalwall skylight above the central stairway floods the center of the lower floor with natural light.  The house is heated passively and with radiant floor heating in the lower floor concrete slab.  There are trellises over the patios on the southwest side of the house, the main view side.  There’s also a good size covered deck on the second floor, accessible from the master bedroom and yoga room.  The photos above show the house before the landscaping was installed.  I’ll try to get some more photos when the landscaping matures.

There are several companies that make Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF).  This structural system is basically a polystyrene block with channels, running vertically and horizontally, into which rebar is placed and concrete is poured.  The different makes of ICF’s each have their advantages and disadvantages.  The manufacturer I chose for the walls of this house is “Perform Wall.”   The 2′ x 10′x 10″ thick panels are made from recycled polystyrene cups that are ground up and mixed with concrete to produce a fairly lightweight panel that has an R value of about 28. Unlike most of the other ICF’s stucco and plaster can be applied directly to the walls.  I’ve designed several ICF houses. This is the first one where I uses Perform Wall and I’ve used it ever since.  Arches and rounded corners are easy with this material.  The walls are super-strong, well insulated, have thermal mass, and are fireproof and rodent-proof.  The panels are stacked and glued together.  The finished openings are cut right into the panels with an electric chain saw and the doors and windows are glued into place.

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