We talked to Rob Lochner, Construction Director with Habitat For Humanity Santa Fe, about his experience using Insulating Concrete Forms on two recent Habitat builds.
These builds are part of a national program spearheaded by the NRMCA in association with Habitat for Humanity International, the ICFMA, and the ACPA.
To read more about this initiative, click here: https://buildblock.com/buildblock-to-partner-with-build-with-strength/
For a brief overview of this project, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74H03QsDQ1o
For more testimonials, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIXi7hit91A
To learn more about BuildBlock, click here: https://buildblock.com/
To learn more about the ICFMA, click here: https://icf-ma.org/
So I’ve been with Santa Fe Habitat for about 10 years. Originally, as the Director of Volunteers and Family Services, and now as the construction director. As a construction director, my job is to make sure that everything on the site runs as smooth as possible. I make sure everybody’s safe, make sure we got supplies, and that the builds come off in a nice way, and that everybody has a good time.
I understood the process pretty much, not all the little details and and whatnot, and I think things ran pretty smooth, uh was quite an adventure, uh quite a herculean task I think in some ways uh, to do two houses in one week, but we pulled it off, and uh really pleased with everything, so.
A ton of care and thought goes into each habitat home. We want our homeowners to be successful, and that makes us successful. So if they have a home that has low maintenance costs, low utility bills, that makes it-hopefully they will then be in a better financial situation, so they’re going to be able to pay their mortgage to us, be able to have savings for emergencies, college fund for their kids, you know be able to move up in life. And by making the homes, you know, dependable, safe, healthy as well. All the homes we try to make them green as we can make them. So the indoor air quality is healthy. The layout is healthy. If somebody has special needs, the home will be able you know be accessible for them as well. So all these things lend to us doing our mission and doing it you know to its fullest.
Oh and our volunteers are the, you know, they’re what makes this happen. Without them we couldn’t do it because the cost would be prohibitive on us, and we wouldn’t be able to build as many homes as we do each year. And then the other thing is those volunteers, they care so much they want everything to be perfect, sometimes too perfect, they don’t understand construction, so we have to tell them take it easy you know it’s all good. But that little, you know, attention to detail that happens, I think also makes all the world of difference in the quality of the home.
You know, having volunteers work on ICF has some of its challenges but if you have, I think a minimal amount of supervision that knows what needs to be done, it actually lends itself pretty easy. The forms are lightweight, that’s a beautiful thing. So it doesn’t really impact those who maybe have a little more physical restraints or whatever, to be able to move lumber and move you know these kind of things. It’s definitely not as dangerous, I don’t think, as doing some of the lumber builds, in those aspects. And it goes together pretty well, but you do need to know the specifics. You need to know what has to happen, before that concrete starts going in those walls. We learned a couple lessons today, nothing major, but it all works out and we know for the next time.
So our affiliate has evolved over the years. Habitat’s came out of the idea of providing affordable housing for those who could not achieve it in their communities. That’s always been the goal of the main mission, but as we’ve had to cut the climate crisis that’s been on us now, this emergency that we’re dealing with, we’ve known that we have to also do our part. We are a Christian-based faith organization, and if we don’t take care of this planet, the people who suffer, are the ones who are in most in need. The poor, the homeless, those are the folks that are going to suffer the most.
And so, for us just to keep building as we always did, and not think about energy consumption of our homes, I think would be irresponsible. So what we’ve done is we’ve decided to focus on that. And we’ve created a model now where our homes are net zero, with our solar that we’re putting on our homes offsets the energy consumption of the home. We’re constantly improving but we’re at a point right now though, I think we’ve gotten into a good place. And again, ICF I think just lends itself to that even further. It makes our house, it’s going to make this house tighter. It’s going to be more durable, more longevity, than regular frame construction.