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Fri, Nov. 27

Business beat: Builder brings foam construction to northern Arizona

General contractor Robert Case (right), of Robert’s Restorations, and construction worker Joe Gabaldon work on a foam constructed home in Williams. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

General contractor Robert Case (right), of Robert’s Restorations, and construction worker Joe Gabaldon work on a foam constructed home in Williams. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — A newly constructed home in Williams is the first of its kind in northern Arizona — it’s built completely out of foam.

Builders say it’s easier to work with than wood, it’s earth friendly and the best part is that it’s cheaper.

Robert Case of Robert's Renovations LLC is the general contractor of the house, and said the home is the first of its kind in Coconino County.

“It looks like a big marshmallow,” Case said. “But when it’s done it will be 10 times stronger than a stick built house.”

Case has been building traditionally built homes for years in the Show Low and Williams areas. He said he became interested in building foam houses after watching a show explaining the construction process.

“At first I thought this couldn’t be real,” he said. “But I contacted the people and took a course in the construction.”

With technology patented by Strata International Group, the house is being constructed using expanded polystyrene as the core material for the walls, roof and floor. Once that is in place, the foam is sprayed with a composite coating made up of a precise blend of sand, cement, glass fiber and other additives.

Why make a home from foam?

Case said two components led him to research the construction of foam houses: the cost advantage and the insulation properties.

“You are going to save 15-20 percent over a wood package,” Case said. “And the R-value is R-5 for one inch, so the walls are R-55 and the roof is R-60. When you compare the R-value to a stick built house, you can’t even touch it.”

The foam was created by structural engineer Nasser Saebi who started Strata to create the foam for home and commercial purposes.

The core can range in thickness from 4 to 16 inches, depending on design and insulation needs, and is covered with a one-quarter inch thick coating of reinforced concrete. Together these make a composite building system that is suitable for all portions of a building.

“It’s the same kind of foam you drink coffee from,” Case said. “There’s three difference classes based on rigidity. We use a class two stronger foam.”

Case said the building process involves no wood. Walls are constructed from the foam blocks using 18-inch rebar every two feet.

“That is a key component to holding the walls in,” he said. “It becomes a monolithic structure when everything is tied together.”

Case said another advantage is that the foam is insect proof, mold proof and water resistant.

Case said a lot of the cost savings is in the materials. There is no need for insulation or drywall, which also cuts down the cost for labor.

“Wood has really gone up in price because of the virus,” he said. “Even before it did, foam was about 15 percent cheaper than a wood package.”

Once the foam is in place, the roof is then constructed using typical materials such as steel panels or shingles.

The outside of the home can have siding or stucco over the composite shell.

“There’s no wood on the roof, we anchor it to a unistrut, which secures it to the roof every two feet,” he said. “We secure that with anchors, drill into the concrete and put the roof right over the foam.”

Although the home being constructed south of Williams is Case’s first foam house, he already has two other customers lined-up for the construction.

More information is available from Robert Case at (928) 525-6597 or robreno2016@gmail.com.

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