Creative Technology Reduces Housing Construction Costs/HUD FWD

Tom Boland (
Fri, 25 Sep 1998 19:24:11 -0400

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Creative Use of Technology Reduces Housing Construction Costs

Cutting the cost of housing construction is an important strategy to make
housing more affordable. Creative use of technology can help reduce the cost
of housing construction and lower the cost of homeownership. The Building
Innovation for Homeownership (BIH) program, an initiative by the National
Partners in Homeownership, identifies housing projects across America that
employ innovative homebuilding technology, design, and development to make
affordable housing and homeownership a reality.

"Building Innovation for Homeownership," a publication from HUD's Office of
Policy Development and Research, recognizes 63 award winning housing
projects from across the United States that meet BIH criteria. These award
winners where chosen based on the ability of designers, developers, and
contractors to adopt the technology in the development of affordable housing
projects. Costs of the homes in winning projects were below the median costs
of new family housing.

Winners used a wide variety of innovative techniques. Twenty-four of the
projects used factory built components, such as manufactured housing  and
modular construction. Other awardees worked to promote energy efficiency,
sustainable design and construction, and innovative site design. Many
projects, such as the Coliseum Oaks in San Antonio, Texas, combined
technologies to reduce the housing units cost. Builders for the Coliseum
Oaks project used site design, energy efficiency, modular, and steel
construction to develop an attractive affordable housing community of
forty-five units.

"Building Innovation for Homeownership" can be ordered for only $5 from HUD

Homebuilders Adopt Alternative Wall System

Characterized as strong, durable, and energy-efficient, a new wall system
for housing called Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) is emerging as an
alternative to lumber wall frames. ICFs are hollow blocks, planks, or panels
that can act as forms for cast-in-place concrete walls. They can be
constructed of rigid foam plastic insulation, cement and foam, cement and
wood, or other appropriate insulation.

Due to rising costs and varying quality of framing lumber, home builders are
increasing their use of ICFs-even though added engineering costs make ICF
homes slightly more expensive than homes with wood framing. To improve the
affordability of ICF homes, HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
recently released a report with guidelines on the design, construction and
inspection of ICF wall systems in "Prescriptive Method for Insulating
Concrete Forms in Residential Construction."

Based on thorough testing and research, the Prescriptive Method section of
the report outlines minimum requirements for ICF systems including wall
thickness, termite protection, reinforcement, lintel span, and connection
requirements. It highlights construction and thermal guidelines for ICFs and
explains how to apply the prescriptive requirements to one- and two-family

The Commentary section provides supplemental information and the engineering
assumptions and methods used for the prescriptive method. Appendices contain
step-by-step examples on how to apply ICF requirements when designing a
home. They also contain engineering technical substantiation and metric
conversion factors.

"Prescriptive Method for Insulating Concrete Forms in Residential
Construction" is available for $5.  This publication is also available on
the HUD USER web site at:

To order a publication from HUD USER, simply go to the HUD USER Homepage at: and choose "Order Online Publications."  From this
point you can browse all the available titles, search the publications list
by keywords, or type in the titles of the publications you want to order.  A
convenient way to arrange payment for publications and services is by
becoming a HUD USER Deposit Account Holder.  More information is available
on this service at:

You can also order publications from HUD USER by contacting us at:

P.O. Box 6091
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 519-5767 (fax)

To stay abreast of new PD&R research and resources, subscribe to our
listserv, HUDUSERNEWS. This free service will automatically send--to your
e-mail address--publication announcements and other notices from the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development
and Research.

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