The construction industry is subject to more risks than others due to its unique features. The risks in construction projects are time, cost, quality, safety and environmental sustainability. Within these categories there are some key risks that influence a project’s objectives. They include:
- Tight project schedule
- Design variations
- Excessive approval procedures
- High quality and performance expectations
- Inadequate scheduling
- Low management competency of subcontractors
- Variations by the client
- Incomplete or inaccurate cost estimates
- Lack of coordination between participants
- Lack of sufficient amount of skilled labor
- General safety issues
- Insufficient or inaccurate site information
- Price inflation of materials
Of all of these potential risks, tight time schedule has an extremely high level of significance in all types of construction across the time, cost, quality and safety categories of risk. Insulating concrete forms can play a positive role in the mitigation of tight project schedule risk in that ICF/concrete walls can be constructed in ⅔ to ½ the time of conventional wall assemblies.
High quality and performance expectation risk can be mitigated by ICF construction as well due to its relatively simple construction and high performance as a wall assembly in terms of energy efficiency, comfort/health and safety after the structure has been completed.
Risk can be mitigated by the use of experienced ICF installers who are specialized, independent business people who have demonstrated their ability and efficiency across many projects. The quality of their work can be checked with other contractors and owners to mitigate the risk associated with a lack of sufficient amounts of skilled labor. In addition, ICF manufacturers have forged long term relationships with installers of their product and are happy to recommend installers they know will provide quality and efficiency on the project. They would not risk the negative impact a poor recommendation would have on their brand by recommending an unqualified installer. In fact, ICF manufacturers typically will not use an installer who has not been trained and certified by them to be competent in the installation of their product.
Lack of sufficient skilled labor is naturally mitigated by the fact that it takes far fewer tradesmen to construct an ICF wall assembly than either CMU or stick frame. In addition, ICF’s consolidate the different trades required to construct an exterior wall assembly thus reducing the amount of skilled labor required. This consolidation of trades benefit also mitigates the tight time schedule risk since the coordination and scheduling of trades and tradespeople is dramatically reduced.
Jobsite safety is mitigated with the use of ICF’s due to their lightnweight. EPS is 98% air. Polypropylene is a lightweight plastic as well. Moving ICF’s around on a job site is light, easy work, especially for more senior laborers who long ago stopped lifting heavy concrete blocks and hauling heavy lumber for placement. An ICF dropped on a foot will hardly be noticed. ICF’s may help reduce workers compensation claims and expense, but most importantly, they may prevent injury to the people working on the site.