Jonathan Tongyai, president of Island Homes, is taking a different approach to building energy efficient houses on the island. For the last three years, Tongyai has offered ICF, otherwise known as insulated concrete forms, as a substitute for concrete blocks. Tongyai said that ICF isn't an entirely new concept.
"My first job was in college at the University of Florida. We built a prototype for the energy department, that was back in either '93 or '94. That was my first exposure to it, but I've been doing a lot of research on it since then. I'm into the whole green movement and energy conservation," Tongyai said.
After receiving $400 worth of electric bills each month, Tongyai decided to sell his house and build a new one using ICF. Now, his electric bill comes out $100, and that's after cooling a 2,400-square-foot home.
ICF is essentially polyurethane foam that is reinforced with concrete. ICF has many benefits, which includes energy efficiency, strength, sound absorption and fire protection. So far, Island Homes is the only construction company on Sanibel that offers ICF.
Tongyai said building with ICF is a much different process compared to building with concrete blocks.
"ICF is a lot lighter, so it's not as labor intensive. Two guys can set as much ICF square footage as eight masons because they just go so fast. As far as wood, we don't have all the straps that have to be put on for hurricanes. That saves a tremendous amount of money and labor. It almost takes as long to do the strapping as it does the framing," Tongyai said.
Right now, Tongyai is in the midst of building a home on Sanibel using ICF. This will be the second one he has built on the island.
"It's very cost effective. It's 5 percent under a wood frame house or block house. It's great because you're getting a solid concrete wall, you're getting R-50 insulation and you're getting superior wind protection. That's the other thing, our insurance bill in our wood frame was around $5,000 to 6,000 a year. Our bill now is $2,200," Tongyai said.
For more information on ICF or Island Homes, call (239) 687-3757 or go to islandhomesllc.com.