Since we build both stick built and ICF’s we often get questions on why? It’s simple, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel in the construction industry but giving our customers options is important. But there are pros and cons and architects and building owners must contend with several challenges with wood-frame construction: disaster-, fire- and termite-resistance, moisture intrusion, compromised indoor air quality (IAQ), noise control, low thermal mass, and rising timber costs.

Wood has low thermal mass. Therefore, wood-framed structures are not as innately energy-efficient as buildings constructed with high thermal mass products like stone, adobe, and LiteForm insulated concrete forms.

Building a disaster-resistant, wood-frame building must achieve a continuous load path to the ground and be missile resistant. For sure building a disaster-resilient wood-framed structure is doable, but it is expensive and labor intensive. The fact is, constructing a disaster-resistant wood-framed building can cost 25–30 percent more than standard wood-frame construction.

Building a wood-frame structure that is fire-resistant is challenging because wood is combustible, and it is difficult to reduce the spread of flames without a fire suppression apparatus. Wood-frame buildings are particularly vulnerable to fire damage during construction before placement of fire protection over the frame.

It’s a known problem, wood-frame construction is subject to termite problems. Termites can and will damage a building’s durability and cost thousands of dollars in repairs. In fact, the annual estimated expense for termite damage and control measures in the U.S. is $5 billion. Termite protection for wood-frame construction is challenging and requires a qualified professional and specialized equipment with continued service and cost to the homeowner!

Wood-frame structures are prone to moisture accumulation in their wall cavities. Until the project gets under roof and enclosed controlling moisture in the wall system of a wood-framed building is difficult because effective methods that stop moisture from entering a wall cavity may also stop the moisture from leaving the wall cavity and possible mold.

Wood-frame buildings are known or may contain adhesives, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that compromise IAQ. VOCs emissions may cause eye, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, nausea, and damage to the kidney, liver, and central nervous system. It’s difficult to understand all the compounds used.

Compared to ICF’s sound proofing is an issue. For wood-frame wall construction, soundproofing features are required to ensure a quiet and peaceful home. Reducing noise in a wood-frame building is accomplished by limiting sound vibrations with insulation, stud placement, or extra mass within the wall cavity.