Because building codes specifically addressing the use of insulating concrete forms for residential construction don't yet exist, builders of ICF homes should be aware of current code requirements and how to meet them -- particularly those for fire resistance, termite protection, moisture control, seismic resistance and wind resistance.
Because BOCA, SBCCI, ICBO and CABO building codes do not specifically address ICF systems, most building officials will have questions and concerns about the use of ICFs, which could delay the approval and issuance of a permit. A big area of concern and confusion for both contractors and building officials is the minimum amount of reinforcing steel required for an ICF wall. For typical cast-in-place walls, ACI 318-95 requires a minimum amount of temperature and shrinkage reinforcement in both the vertical and horizontal directions. But these minimum steel-reinforcing requirements are too conservative for the low loading conditions of one- and two-family residences.
Most ICF manufacturers have taken steps of their own to have their proprietary systems approved by the major building-code organizations. Engineering reports or evaluations by the code bodies are available from these manufacturers. If the technical manual of the ICF manufacturer is accepted by the local code official, an engineered design may not be required for typical installations covered by the manufacturer's instructions.