Monolith guarantees an airtightness of 0.6 ACH (Air changes per hour)  |  Contact us

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FAQ

General Frequently Asked Questions

What is CIP?

L
K
CIP = Concrete Insulated Panels. A complete wall system made of concrete on the outside, insulation in the middle, and concrete on the interior. The concrete wall panels are the finished walls on both the exterior and interior sides. The outer layer of concrete is called the “veneer” layer and the inner concrete layer is called the “structural” layer.

I’m looking for an innovative high performance system for residential construction. Why choose CIP?

L
K
If you’ve found Monolith you’re seeking a premium product that promises simplicity and reliability for homeowners for generations to come. The main reasons to choose CIP is for durability, its low operational maintenance and energy efficiency, and for the architectural or design aesthetics. Concrete is a very safe and reliable product that is used widely for residential construction worldwide.

What makes Monolith Systems unique?

L
K

The Monolith wall assembly is a tested building system consisting of only concrete, rebar, and insulation to create a singular monolithic wall structure. Designed specifically to address a variety of challenges commonly faced in traditional building standards throughout the Pacific Northwest, Monolith stands as a testament to modern building innovation.

Monolith’s concrete insulated panels are a superior wall system that achieve high energy efficiency while also offering a superior level of comfort inside the home. Insulated concrete homes are healthy, durable, and easy to maintain. The robust construction of Monolith Systems creates generational homes for families to enjoy.

The outer concrete veneer layer is made up of 2-2.5” of reinforced concrete and acts as a barrier that ensures moisture and air do not penetrate into the walls. This eliminates the need for traditional weather protection materials such as window flashings and building wrap. By pouring the concrete panels on a horizontal surface, Monolith is able to achieve superior architectural concrete finishes that are not possible by other construction methods such as vertically-poured concrete walls.

Rigid insulation forms the middle layer of the monolith wall system. This continuous layer of insulation between panels is a key component of the monolith wall system. The insulation layer and outer concrete veneer act as barriers to protect the thick interior concrete mass from the cooler outside air. This protection ensures that heat generated inside the home is absorbed and retained into the concrete rather than being lost to the outdoors.

Heat retention is an integral part of the monolithic wall mass and greatly reduces heat-loss that traditionally occurs in standard framed houses.
The inner concrete layer is the structural portion of the wall. Rebar is placed in this concrete layer for structural reinforcement.

Adding to the simplicity of the Monolith system, the entire wall anchors directly to insulated footings to comprise the home’s foundation walls.

Do Monolith walls meet BC Building Code Regulations?

L
K
Yes concrete insulated panel wall assemblies are within the scope of the BC Building Code Part 9.27 – Cladding.

Do concrete insulated homes resist fire? Are concrete homes fire-resistant?

L
K
Concrete is one of the most fire-resistant materials to build with because it is non-combustible. Houses made of concrete insulated panels are able to withstand fire damage more successfully than houses framed in wood or steel.

Are concrete homes safe in earthquake prone areas?

L
K
Yes, engineers design the structurally reinforced CIPs to ensure they meet BC Building Code seismic requirements. The seismic tolerance for CIP homes is similar to that of emergency services buildings (Seismic Class F).

What does R-value mean and what levels of R-value do Monolith wall systems have?

L
K

R-value is a way to measure how much a building product resists the flow of heat within a wall cavity. The higher the R-value, the more the resistance and the better the material is at insulating a home.

The 2 types of R-values are nominal and effective: Nominal R-value is the thermal conductivity of a product tested prior to its installation. The effective R-Value is the thermal performance of the wall as a whole and is usually referenced for entire buildings. The average BC Code-built home is R-12. Monolith wall systems range between R-32 to R-40.

What’s the difference between CIP and ICF?

L
K
CIP panels are poured horizontally on casting tables and then tilted vertically into place. The entire wall is finished with the concrete on both the exterior and interior sides. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are hollow insulation blocks that are stacked vertically with concrete poured into the center of each block. Interior and exterior wall finishes are applied afterwards.

Do CIP walls achieve Passive House certification?

L
K
Using CIP walls would achieve or exceed Passive House standards for air tightness. The thermal performance of window openings and floor and roof connections are significantly simple design and also help in achieving Passive House certification. Houses constructed using CIPs also meet and exceed the Passive House requirement of a constant interior air temperature. CIP-constructed houses also have minimal thermal bridging and are very efficient at heating and cooling thanks to their thick continuous layer of insulation wrap and their low heating requirements.

How is electrical wiring installed in concrete insulated panels?

L
K
Electrical wiring is integrated into the cast-in-place CIPs and their locations are planned during the home’s design process. Electrical conduits and outlets are laid out and installed into the structural layer before the concrete is poured. Electrical wiring is pulled through the conduits once the structure is tilted into place. Conduits installed in concrete walls are then routed through interior framed walls or through the floor and roof framing. Concrete roof structures require a dropped ceiling for installing electrical conduits.

How are CIP walls finished on the inside and exterior?

L
K
Concrete walls can be finished to achieve any aesthetic design from traditional to contemporary. The outer veneer walls can have many finishes. Examples include board-form, concrete graphic art, formliners, sandblasted, polished, etched, coloured, dead smooth, acid etched, brick veneer, and relief patterns. Stone work can also be set into the concrete while it is being formed. Relief images are left on the exterior of the concrete walls once lifted into place. Products can also be applied to the exterior to give the desired look effect such as battens giving an impression of board and batten siding. The interior layer is typically hand trowelled to give a smooth architectural finish. Interior (structural) CIP walls can also be tinted or painted once finished. Interior walls can also be finished to resemble American Clay or stucco, or have traditional materials applied such as drywall or wallpaper finishes. Brick masonry, board inlay, power trowelling, or etching are also finishing options. See our website for examples of interior finish options.

How does the cost of CIP homes compare to traditional construction?

L
K

Durability and superior energy efficiency of CIP homes translates directly into long-term savings on maintenance and heating costs. The cost of building high-performance wood or steel-framed houses is similar to building CIP homes, however the durability and longevity of CIP wall systems is unparalleled with other construction methods.

Concrete monolith walls require minimal maintenance and their integrity and finishes are maintained without the upkeep of painting, sanding, replacement of rotting wood, etc that is traditionally required of framed homes.

What are the benefits of Tilt Up compared to Precast panels?

L
K

To ensure the panels are constructed with the best possible accuracy, Monolith panels are best when cast horizontally and then tilted up on the building site. Researching local concrete suppliers is required to ensure accessibility to site including the concrete truck’s reach capacity, sufficient quantity, and quality of concrete.

If a building site poses unmanageable logistics for casting the panels, panels may be precast off site and transported to site.
Whether cast on or off-site, the crane trucks, essential for lifting and tilting the panels into position, need access to the site and sufficient reach capacity. Crane rental fees and availability must also be confirmed by local crane supply companies.

How do I hang pictures or art on concrete walls?

L
K
Similar to lathe and plaster walls, pictures can be hung on CIP walls by drilling small holes into the concrete to install nails or screws. Usage of hammers on concrete walls should be avoided.

How does a CIP wall feel on the inside?

L
K
The consistent feedback we receive from our clients is that their concrete homes feel incredibly strong and safe, and are very comfortable all around. Home furnishings and textiles create additional warmth to the home’s interior.

Designing a Concrete Home

I’m a homeowner, how do I work with Monolith Systems?

L
K
Drop us a note and tell us your ideas. Monolith Systems can provide references for designers and architects who are able to design a Monolith CIP home. Monolith also offers house floor plans which have been designed and refined to take advantage of the many efficiencies of building with Monolith Systems CIPs.

I’m an architect or architectural designer. How do I work with Monolith Systems?

L
K
Designing a home using concrete insulated panels is very simple and is best described as designing a house using a deck of playing cards. The cards may be cut into smaller pieces as needed and stacked vertically or horizontally.

How many CIP panels are generally needed for a custom home?

L
K
Depending on the building design, the efficiency of panel layout, and the number of internal concrete walls in the design, the average 3,200 square foot home can be designed with a minimum of 11 concrete panels. The average is 20 panels.

How are electrical or data power points to a wall?

L
K
All electrical and data wiring locations must be integrated into the cast-in-place panels during the home’s design phase. Electrical power points can be added to Monolith walls after the walls have been poured but it’s preferred to be pre-designed. Ideally, custom homes have electrical plans and layouts completed as part of the pre-construction design process. This information is then used to create concrete panel plans showing the location of electrical conduits and boxes. Electrical conduits are installed into the panels before the concrete is poured.

Building a Concrete Home

I’m a builder or General Contractor, how do I work with Monolith Systems?

L
K
Drop us a note and we’d look forward to discussing the construction process that will work best for the client’s CIP design. Monolith Systems begins by constructing insulated footings on the building site. Monolith then casts the concrete panels and then tilts them into place. Connections and bracing are then completed and preparation is made for the local General Contractor to complete the roof and floor framing, as well as all interior finishes.

Where are the panels manufactured?

L
K
Panels are usually cast on each building site as this is most cost efficient and produces the highest quality of concrete finish. Panels can be precast and transported to the building site by large transportation trucks or barges if necessary.

What is the panel installation process?

L
K
Architectural and structural designers initially lay out the overall sequence and design. The home’s insulated footings are first built and formed, then poured on the building’s footprint. The panels are then constructed and poured horizontally on casting tables. Once set or cured, they are individually lifted into place and installed with bracing that extends to the footings. The roof structure is then installed and then the wall braces are removed. The floor slab is installed last.

What are the dimensions of Monolith concrete insulated panels?

L
K
Monolith Systems CIPs are 28’8 5/8” X 13’ 0 ¼” (8.78m x 3.97m) or smaller. Panels may be oriented horizontally or vertically during design. Panels may be cast at larger dimensions however additional costs are associated with the construction of larger custom casting tables.

How long does it take to build with Monolith wall panels compared to conventionally framed walls?

L
K
Building with Monolith Systems CIP is approximately 30% faster than conventional framed construction. Once cast and cured, the walls are finished on the interior and exterior which eliminates the time and effort traditionally required for trim, cladding, and drywall finishing.

Can I add exterior windows after the walls are installed?

L
K
Windows can easily be added to exterior concrete walls, similar to in wood framed houses. Window locations must first be confirmed with engineers and then holes can be cut and windows then installed.

How are the wall panels connected to the footings?

L
K

Panels are connected to their footings with a tilt-up wall-to-footing anchor system that fasten to the wall and are bolted to the footings. See MeadowBurke and Connect EZ for some terrific concrete connection designs.

How are adjoining wall panels connected?

L
K
Steel embeds are welded to one another at the panel joints. Steel plates that are embedded into the top of the panels to tie the panels to one another.

How is a continuous air barrier achieved at panel junctions?

L
K
Concrete is a great air barrier. The joints are sealed with a polyurethane sealant that is applied on both the interior and exterior of the joint. Before the joint sealant is applied, spray foam insulation is sprayed between the panels joints at the same depth of the insulation to continue the insulation wrap. Depending on window selection homes built from CIP achieve an air tightness of 0.6 air changes per hour (ACH) or less. Air tightness is important for energy efficiency and helps to make homes healthy.

What type of insulation can be used?

L
K
EPS insulation is commonly used in CIPs as it is the most economical of insulation options. EPS has many benefits. It does not absorb water and will always perform to its specified (nominal) R-value in all areas including below-ground foundation walls or basement conditions. Insulation thickness may vary between 4-12 inches. Other insulation options such as XPS, Rockwool, Polyisocyanurate (poly-iso), Cork are also available.

How are the panel joints sealed?

L
K
CIPs typically have a 10mm gap between panels. Open joints are filled with a foam backer rod. Polyurethane caulking such as dynamic FC is then applied to seal the joint.

What is the maximum panel size that can be transported?

L
K
The maximum transportation size is approximately 14 feet wide by 60 feet long.

Living in a Concrete Home

Are homes made with concrete insulated panels comfortable? I’m afraid it will feel cold.

L
K
Concrete insulated homes are very comfortable and feel incredibly solid inside. Concrete insulated homes maintain their heat due to their monolithic thermal mass, and maintain a very consistent temperature throughout the home and over time. The temperature variation in a concrete insulated home is generally less than 1℃. Because the homes are very sound proof they eliminate ambient noise outside such as heavy rain or traffic.

How do you hang pictures on concrete walls?

L
K
Similar to how picture hooks are hung on lath and plaster walls, concrete drill bits are the best way to drill into the concrete wall. 3M sticky hooks also work for hanging items on concrete walls. We leave you with a concrete drill bit and hammer drill to install pictures hooks.

How do I renovate my concrete home?

L
K
Internal wood or steel framed walls within concrete insulated homes can be demolished or moved. If adding exterior walls we simply ship new walls. If a bigger window is desired we have the engineer sign off on the requested new opening location. The engineer may add in some steel to accommodate lateral loading. If a smaller window is required later, interior design creativity and elegant materials help the filled area look like a piece of art.

Are CIP home relocatable?

L
K
Internal wood or steel framed walls within concrete insulated homes can be demolished or moved. If adding exterior walls we simply ship new walls. If a bigger window is desired we have the engineer sign off on the requested new opening location. The engineer may add in some steel to accommodate lateral loading. If a smaller window is required later, interior design creativity and elegant materials help the filled area look like a piece of art.

Maintaining Your Concrete Home

What is required to maintain CIP panels?

L
K
A non-solvent based penetrating sealer is applied to the interior and exterior finish of all concrete homes. This sealer is to be reapplied every 5-10 years and checked to confirm its ability to repel water. This test is performed by misting the wall using a sprayer bottle. In circumstances where panels have been painted with a non-concrete paint, the paint should be repainted within 7 years.

How well do the concrete insulated panels weather when exposed to the environment?

L
K
Concrete is a very durable material and stands the test of time in the temperate Pacific NorthWest climate. Issues that are typically seen in conventional buildings including mold growth or material deterioration do not occur with concrete insulated panel homes. Natural concrete finishes can be maintained by regular application of a good penetrating sealer.

Do cracks appear in concrete insulated panel walls?

L
K
Yes. Minor cracks develop as the concrete cures. Thes cracks are similar to how cracks may appear in stucco or checked wood.