Building in Australia is evolving, for the better. Cheryl and Dan Gardiner of RokSolid Construction are tapping into a market of shrewd home builders who want more than just an aesthetically pleasing structure. Home builders who have a focus on safety, greater comfort, energy efficiency and a healthier, more eco-friendly home.

RokSolid Construction is utilising the fastest growing construction system worldwide, insulated foam concrete (ICF). ICF reduces construction time and provides benefits of design flexibility, less air infiltration, a superior sound barrier, along with greatly reduced maintenance expenses.

Although this may seem like a new system, ICF is a German design that has been successfully used for more than 50 years. It is made up of polystyrene blocks set out to the approved plan and the core is filled with concrete. Services such as pipes and wiring are easily routed through the polystyrene blocks.

In a time when builders are facing a timber shortage, ICF compares favourably to timber frame housing on a number of levels. The Gardiners believe that when comparing a typical wood frame home comprising of 90 x 35 timber and bat insulation there is no contest to ICF’s hefty concrete walls (four to 12 inches of concrete surrounded by a foam) and that this superior form promises greater safety, energy efficiency and a healthy home.

Apart from straw or volcanic rock, ICF is one of the most eco-friendly ways to construct a home, complying with all regulations. It reduces energy by 40 per cent and CO2 emissions, saves 8.5 trees per average house build, offers better Air Quality and is up to 90 per cent more energy efficient.

The Gardiners can also see the benefit of the system in regional areas of Australia were there is a need to improve the bushfire ratings of homes. ICF has a two-four hour burn time when compared to wood which collapses within an hour, and in tests, ICF walls have never failed structurally. This makes it an ideal product in bushfire zones, especially when in test conditions, walls subjected to temperatures of 1100 degrees Celsius are still standing after four hours.

It’s not just regional areas that will benefit from this type of building. As cities become higher density and noise from roads, trains and airlines increase, houses built with ICF act as an effective sound barrier, filtering out unwanted noise by reducing sound vibrations and creating the ultimate in-home comfort.

One of the biggest bonuses of the system is the speed of construction. A house can be built in weeks rather than months. Our teams can complete the ICF walls of a single-story structure in just one day!

There are only few builders in South Australia using this system and the Gardiners would like to see this change. Far from keeping the system to themselves, they believe the benefits of ICF should be picked up by builders throughout the state. The system isn’t difficult to learn and with a small amount of training, provides a great opportunity for builders to upskill and have different building techniques in their armoury.