BuildBlock Projects




Ker Thomson Home Awarded Best Large Residential, Built Using BuildBlock ICFs.

This Houston, TX home is the only TRIPLE CERTIFIED (IBHS, USGBC, DOE) house in the country.  BuildBlock ICFs play an important role in achieving this incredible certification. First, ICFs are perfect for the US Gulf Coast. The coast suffers from termites, humidity, rodents, mold, mildew, heat, cold, rain, bugs, roaches, and of course, the occasional tropical storm and/or full blown hurricane. All of these are mortal enemies of wood framing and stick built houses are essentially obsolete before they are occupied. This region calls for building with a strong, insulated, nature resistant, wall system. BuildBlock meets all of those requirements and more.

Ker Thomson with Durable Residential Builders states:

We started with the environment of the US Gulf Coast and in a 14 month long process we examined, in remarkable detail, all the different ways to build a home and roughly 300 different products and technologies from which a house can be constructed. We looked at at least 7 different wall systems and chose ICF.

Technologies Used:

The home has solar panels, designed to provide most of the energy during the day. The house only needed 18 solar panels due to the fact that the ICF walls create an environment that is comfortable and simply requires less electricity. Solar thermal, combined with a hybrid/tankless hot water heater from Eternal ensures on demand ultra-high efficiency hot water throughout the home.

ker-thomson-home-houson-tx-104Furthermore, Thompson integrated an innovative hybrid water-refrigerant-evaporative HVAC system into the house alongside in-floor radiant heating. The discussion of this system exemplifies the system integration and creative approaches taken toward the ‘systems’ approach to the design of this house.

Even rainwater harvesting technology was used to supply the house for 6 weeks, on average. Thompson stated, “We use the rain water for irrigation (perfect for the plants) and when run through our Watts (0.2 micron, carbon, UV light) filter provides every faucet and appliance in the house with water that is ‘bottled water quality’.” 

A RUUD ‘Smart’ generator was installed that powers the entire house, except some of the peripheral lighting. This includes the kitchen, refrigerators, HVAC, water system, TV, home control system, and all the LED lighting.

Thompson also used low VOC paints, ‘dragon board’ cabinets (which has no volatile ethers), engineered wood floors, and painted doors that are Masonite ‘Safe and Sound’ made of wheat chaff.

The house utilizes Grace Ice and Water roofing underlayment, rather than the 30 lb roofing felt which is typically used and meets code because there is no comparison between the short and long term durability and protection that the Ice and Water Shield offers a building.

Beautifully Designed, Elegantly Executedker-thomson-home-houson-tx-103

This house is designed, first and foremost, to be exactly what it is, a safe comfortable, beautiful home. The design process did not precede or follow the systems approach to the mechanical requirements of the house. Instead, these ideas were integrated and adapted to yield a cohesive, comfortable, safe, efficient, durable, and healthy home. The home was designed to have outstanding resistance to all the maladies that plague the US Gulf Coast. It was designed to have solar PV and solar Thermal. It was designed to have a sealed attic, ICF walls, and zone 1-hurricane windows. All these elements feel like they belong there and, they do.

Any design is possible with ICFs and this project beautifully proves that point. The home represents a complicated exterior that is attractive and boasts an inviting mix of stucco, brick, and stone.

ICF walls are the corner stone of this house and SHOULD be the predominant wall system along the US Gulf Coast. BuildBlock walls provide unmatched comfort, strength, air quality, and sound mitigation for the owner. BluildBlock also greatly increases the speed of construction for the builder. All of this comes at a price that is comparable (if not less) than wood framed construction.

More Information about this home featured in:

 Cover house of a City Wide Home Tour “The Best Of Houston” in 2012.
 The Houston Solar Tour in 2013.
 Subject of an 11,000 word feature article in the Journal of Green Building. –
 Certified as a Fortified house by the IBHS.-
 Recognized by the DOE as a Zero Energy Ready Home in 2014 –
 Recognized by the USGBC as a LEED for Homes Platinum Certified Home in 2014.
 Subject of a VIP USGBC presentation ceremony on October 10, 2014.
 Open to the public for a USGBC Public Open House on October 11, 2014.
 The subject of a City of Houston Green Building Resource Center, Green Building Tour on October 17, 2014.
 AM740 on a radio news story on October 10, 2014.
 Article in the Houston Chronicle the week of October 10, 2014.