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Least Expensive Construction Methods


In the news we see a variety of new home construction methods but not real idea of the true costs (including maintenance) and any tradeoffs in function. We should do some small tests to learn what methods are the most affordable while still being totally practical.

Candidates include:

  1. 3D printing of homes
  2. Pre-fabricated homes delivered to the site in parts
  3. Robots assembling homes on site (already being tested by startups)
  4. "Half homes" in which only half of the interior living space is finished, leaving the rest to the homeowner
  5. Concrete homes
  6. Partly underground homes (like hobbit homes)
  7. Brick homes made from Elon Musk's Boring Company bricks at 10 cents apiece
  8. "Smart" design focuses on low-cost materials and ease of assembly.
  9. Etc.

The main idea here is to get better visibility on what methods work best, cost-wise and in terms of function and ease of building.

In some cases, new construction methods will require changes in building codes. Those regulations can be waived for a small-scale test.

I know some people in the pre-fab business. They do a lot of government contracting, overseas jobs and countrywide construction.

I will reach out to them and lead them to your website. Maybe they have something to offer.

I like the half home option too. Maybe that could be a lower cost incentive and maybe other community members could be hired to complete these jobs affordably and efficiently.


I like the half-home idea, and perhaps linked to job apprenticeships program to help build new workers in construction trades. Perhaps the homeowner agrees to volunteer for X hours to receive Y hours of help from apprentices on their project.

Insulated concrete blocks seem like a promising solution:

The APEX Block

48” x 16” x 10”

55 lbs


We understand that you have options and specific demands when it comes to choosing a wall system for constructing your next home or commercial project. To aid you in your quest to find the right solution for your specific needs, we have created a chart below that allows you to compare our block’s characteristics with other potential options.

This comparison chart is also intended to provide you with a snapshot of our unique distinctness between other common products that exist in the market today. Through it all, we stand by our claims made on this website and we believe we have succeeded in providing our visitors with honest and objective content.

Our employees are well educated about our product and have a keen understanding about other common products in the market today. If you have any questions regarding the information below, please do not hesitate to contact us as we welcome your quest for further knowledge.

Build Method Comparison Chart

APEX Block
Foam Forms
Concrete Block
Wood Frame
(2″ x 6″)
% Recycled Content 50-100% 0% 0% 0%
Energy Efficiency High Med-High Low Low
Construction Materials Waste Less than 5% Less than 5% Up to 30% Up to 50%
Fire Resistance Yes (3+ hours) Yes Yes No
Wind Resistance High (up to 250 mph) High Medium Low
Termite/Insect Resistance Yes Yes/No Yes No
Sound Resistance High High Medium Low
Stucco Ready Yes No $ Yes No
Masonry Ready Yes No $ Yes No
Drywall Ready Yes No $ No No
Exterior Mesh/Wire Required No Yes $ No Yes $
Special Tools Required No Yes $ No No
Special Bracing Required No Yes $ No No
Special Scaffolding Required No Yes $ No No
Labor Required Low High $ Low Low
Grout Required for 100 sq.ft. wall 0.88 (cu yds.) 3.11 (cu yds.) 1.2 (cu yds.) NA
Potential LEED Points 22 10 – 25 Low Low

Recycled Content

Every APEX Block is made utilizing 100% recycled (post-industrial/pre-consumer) EPS #6. Each APEX Block contains 100% recycled EPS #6 by volume. An average home (3,300 sq. ft.) built with APEX Block keeps 2,477 lbs. of polystyrene out of our landfills!

Energy Efficiency

APEX Block structures are proven to save up to 50% on heating and cooling bills. The EPS used to create APEX Block provides the magnitude of our energy-efficiency properties. Our 10-inch thick block walls provide a substantial envelope of insulation resulting in a superior thermal and sound efficient barrier to all outside elements. When compared to other foam plastic insulation materials, our insulation performance is proven to remain stable during its entire life, while other foam insulators can lose up to 30 percent of their original insulating ability. This loss of insulating value is referred to as Thermal Drift.

Construction Waste

APEX Block and ICFs provide builders with a more efficient material to reduce construction waste. Both products can be cut and reused during all phases of the wall construction. This reduction in job site waste is welcomed by builders and their owners.

Fire Resistance

APEX Block walls are one of the safest, fire resistant walls on the market today. Our blocks and wall structures have been tested by third-party laboratories using the most stringent fire resistance criteria in the industry today (ASTM E84-05). Our 4 hour (3hrs 52 min to be exact!) fire resistance rating is one of the safest ratings you will witness in the market today. Inclusive in this fire resistance testing was our Smoke Development rating of only 50. The maximum allowable amount for Smoke Development is 450. Since smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in fires, this extremely low rating is most comforting to us AND our clients.

Wind Resistance

APEX walls incorporate a screen-grid design that allows for steel rebar every 16 inches and is then filled with reinforced cement. This cement and rebar give APEX walls their strength and superior resistance to high winds caused by tornadoes and hurricanes.

Termite/Insect Resistance

Another inherent advantage of APEX Block versus stick frame structures is our greater resistance to termites and other insects. By mixing cement with our recycled EPS, the EPS granules become encapsulated by cement, making our blocks much less susceptible to infestation from termites, insects and all other vermin. This can be especially critical if you plan on constructing below-grade (basement) walls.

Sound Resistance

APEX Block and most ICFs are ideal for creating a quieter and more comfortable home. APEX Block has a -55.5 db sound transmission rating using the industry standard ASTM E90 testing criteria. This excellent sound attenuation rating provides our owners and occupants with a more peaceful and enjoyable environment.

Stucco/Drywall/Masonry Ready

A labor-saving advantage of incorporating recycled EPS and cement to make APEX Blocks is that our blocks inherently yield a coarse and pliant surface that allows finishes to be applied directly to the block without having to require mesh and/or chicken wire. Drywall, plaster, stucco, rock or brick veneer and other similar applications become a two-step process vs. a four-step process.

Labor Required

Perhaps the greatest cost-saving benefit from building with APEX Block versus an ICF system is the amount time that will be saved from building with APEX Block. A case that was conducted by the ICFA (Insulating Concrete Forms Association), compared the labor hours for constructing a 1,100 square foot home. The findings in this study showed that a home built using a waffle design ICF took 96 hours to construct while a home using a screen-grid design form that is nearly identical to the design of our APEX Block, required only 68 hours. This difference of almost 30 hours is quite substantial and would certainly be much greater if building an average 3,300 square foot home. Simply put, APEX Blocks provide builders with an easier and faster way to build.

Grout Required

Another cost-saving advantage of using APEX Block to build your next home or commercial project is that you will need significantly less concrete. When compared to a same-sized ICF (48 x 16 x 10) as shown in the above comparison chart, the ICF requires over 3 times more concrete. With the ever-increasing costs and shortages of concrete supplies, the savings from building with APEX Block vs. ICF systems can quickly and significantly add up.

Potential LEED Points

Incorporating APEX Block into your residential, commercial, and/or school projects can help you earn valuable LEED points. Per the LEED New Construction version 2.2 checklist, building and design professionals can potentially earn up to 22 points. We encourage you to check out our LEED Contribution Points webpage that identifies the specific contribution points that APEX Block can help contribute towards.

Until the 1980s I worked in design and construction, then went on to a 2nd career in Information Technology.

Quote from ScottAdams on July 30, 2018, 5:59 pm

In the news we see a variety of new home construction methods but not real idea of the true costs (including maintenance) and any tradeoffs in function. We should do some small tests to learn what methods are the most affordable while still being totally practical.

Candidates include:


You could close the circle by 3D printing Musk-sourced earth into modules to be delivered for assembly by robots into half-underground homes laid out by an evolutionary algorithm.

Long story short — the most efficient living space is a hemisphere with an oculus. With radial walls to preserve a toroidal airflow. For any given materials choice, it results in the quietest, cleanest and warm/coolest space possible. Cleanest because dust settles in corners.

Basalt seems like a great option for fire-proof/sound-proof/rust-proof/mold-proof/rot-proof/insect-proof/decay-proof insulation and also concrete reinforcement. Will provide better, safer, more durable, more comfortable buildings.

It can also reduce the amount (cost) of concrete required in building, because there no longer needs to be a buffer zone to protect the (rust-proof) basalt rebar from water.

Basalt Rebar Products

Also, check out the "Perfect Wall" concept:

Joe Lstiburek’s “Perfect Wall” concept. (The 500 year house!)

Joe Lstiburek’s “Perfect Wall” concept. (The 500 year house!)

Perhaps more important than techniques and technology is changing the way we govern:

Good Governance

Quote from simplekeep on August 12, 2018, 2:28 am

Perhaps more important than techniques and technology is changing the way we govern

Off-topic for this sub-forum. I looked but don't see a better one. Maybe Financing/Government Grants. It's always interesting to see what can't be talked about.

For basalt (one of my favorite materials) I follow

I like the perfect wall presentation. This seems to solve a myriad of problems all in one go.