A Match Made in Oregon: Insulated Concrete Forms and a Concrete Flooring System

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America’s Northwest has an all-in-one homebuilding solution with Cascade ICF.

“Lumber is the enemy,” says Dave Gowers, the co-owner of Cascade ICF. “Although we’re surrounded by wood, it’s expensive, it burns and it’s difficult to work with.”

Gowers has always loved concrete. It’s fireproof, extremely durable and load bearing. As a Professional Engineer who has worked for over 50 years on a diversity of projects including commercial structures, wastewater treatment plants, complex bridges and industrial facilities – including numerous billion-dollar projects – Gowers understands how using concrete in residential applications has incredible value, especially in fire-prone Oregon. He quickly gravitated toward recommending the use of insulated concrete forms (ICF). 

After moving to Oregon, Gowers and his wife Jennifer established Cascade ICF, and carved a niche providing engineering and supply of ICF for new homes. Although the product is exceptional, Gowers still found himself teaching customers about the value of ICF. Fortunately, the more people he spoke with, the more word spread about its benefits.

After several years of engineering more than 100 ICF homes, he became fed up with the temporary shoring required in most concrete flooring systems. It was costly, inconvenient and time consuming. Construction couldn’t progress on a home until the concrete had completely cured.

He had enough, and sought out a beam system that works with ICF and could span long distances. 

Discovering the Beauty and Benefits of Pre-Engineered Cold-Formed Steel

A quick Google search led Gowers to iSPAN Systems and its Composite TotalJoist concrete flooring system. He immediately understood that iSPAN’s proprietary design would work better than any other system available. 

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Composite TotalJoist is compatible with ICF, and the all-steel joists can span entire rooms with fewer supports – no temporary shoring required. Atop the lightweight joists is Total-Lewis-Decking, which supports a layer of concrete as the floor. Gowers takes the efficiency of iSPAN’s system one step further by using fiber reinforcement in the concrete, removing significant amounts of rebar, and saving time and money.

“I had tried other flooring systems, but the products were difficult to work with,” adds Gowers. “iSPAN’s design was ‘clean’ and easiest to use….It also helped that their customer service is top notch.”

Gowers was also attracted to the many post-construction benefits of Composite TotalJoist, such as its superior vibration control, excellent acoustic ratings, high fire ratings and elimination of bulkheads. (Joists have pre-cut service holes.)

After a few trial runs with iSPAN, and working with its helpful team, Gowers became even more impressed, sold other customers on the product, and within a few short months he became one of iSPAN’s authorized dealers.

ICF & iSPAN Success Stories Across America

Since working with iSPAN, Gowers recommends the Composite TotalJoist flooring system to all of his customers, even those which originally chose a completely different system. 

“We designed a project in the Pacific Northwest to supply it with an ICF flooring system,” explains Gowers. “We already designed the floors and roofs. And then, just when we were going through the plan check, we decided to redesign it with iSPAN’s concrete and steel floor. It ended up being less expensive and way simpler.”

A separate project, in Maryland, involved a four-storey building with a retail store on the lower level. The project was built using ICF walls and standard ICF floors. Temporary shoring was used, and as usual it was costly and delayed the project for days. When the same client wanted an identical building, Gowers strongly suggested upgrading the flooring system to Composite TotalJoist. He agreed, and the benefits were exactly as advertised. After the steel flooring was installed and poured with concrete, the mechanical and electrical crews could immediately begin work. The client also saved approximately $5 per square foot.

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Rebar is a Reinforcement of the Past with iSPAN’s System

Although Gowers says that the install time for Composite TotalJoist is similar to other systems, where he sees the huge savings of time is in the rebar installation. “You’ve got to have rebar in the ICF flooring with stirrups. A lot of rebar has to go into those systems. With iSPAN, there’s no rebar needed since we use fiber reinforcement.”

iSPAN is also currently supplying Gowers with a customized concrete roof system that’s currently under construction in the Pacific Northwest. Does it need rebar? Not at all. Using fiber-reinforced concrete cuts costs and construction time in this application as well. 

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Cold-Formed Steel and ICF Moving Forward

Even today, Gowers is still amazed at the value of ICF, and has taken it to be his personal mission to inform Americans in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest about this highly efficient construction method, especially when used in conjunction with iSPAN’s structurally superior flooring system Composite TotalJoist.

“Right now with iSPAN as our horizontal system and FoxBlocks as our vertical ICF system, we’ve teamed up with the two best companies we can possibly meet,” effused Gowers. “We’re looking forward to many more great ICF projects ahead.”

ICF Builders Are Eager to Learn More

Cascade ICF now offers the complete ICF package – design/engineering, ICF walls and iSPAN flooring – and is quickly transforming Oregon and the Pacific Northwest homebuilding with this convenient integration.

See why iSPAN’s Composite TotalJoist system is best for your ICF project by exploring www.iSPANSystems.com.

Connect with Dave Gowers at Cascade ICF at 541-597-4909 or dave@cascadeicf.com. Along with being an engineer that uses iSPAN’s products, Cascade ICF is the authorized dealer for iSPAN Systems in Alaska, Oregon and Washington.


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