CRA to Design First Insulated Concrete Form House for Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area

Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates (CRA) was selected as the Architects for the design of a new duplex housing unit to be located in Steelton, Pennsylvania. The existing site had a dilapidated single-family home which was demolished in June of 2022. The site is severely sloped, like much of 2nd Street, and will require that the existing stone retaining walls remain, to provide stability to the steep grade at the rear of the property. The site is located adjacent to a monumental stairway that connects 2nd Street and 3rd Street and is directly across the street from the Steelton Post Office.

CRA is the architect for the design of the first of two new duplex housing units that will be built on the site. The main structure of the house will be constructed with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) which is a building material that provides material availability, energy efficiency and simplicity in construction.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. They believe affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. Spearheading the project, they are working with several local partners to make the build of these new duplexes happen.

“These are very exciting times. This partnership is providing an opportunity for two families to seek homeownership and assist the Harrisburg Habitat in fulfilling its mission of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. We are very pleased with the work of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates and the partnership with NRCMA, the Borough of Steelton and ICFMA and we are looking forward to future projects with all.” Serina Gaston, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area.

Habitat for Humanity International is working with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and executing the project through the “Build With Strength” program where each local Habitat for Humanity will partner with local suppliers to use these ICFs for the construction of a house in each state across America. By the end of 2022 we will have 45 concrete homes under construction or completed in 29 states. The Steelton, PA project will be the first ICF Habitat project in Pennsylvania.

Insulating Concrete Forms are hollow EPS blocks that are stacked in place and make up the exterior walls of the building. The hollow core is reinforced with steel rebar and then filled with concrete. The forms stay in place after the pour and provides strength and durability as well as attachments for interior and exterior finishes. The dense insulation creates a quiet and comfortable living environment, and greatly reduces energy costs for the end user. ICFs are a modular system that is lightweight and easy to move around the jobsite, making them a great material for both construction beginners and experienced builders looking to reduce the physical demands of construction. For these reasons, ICFs make an excellent choice for a partner like Habitat for Humanity, who builds houses all over the world, with construction crews largely made up of volunteers.

Utilizing this construction type, Habitat for Humanity looks to provide a house that is fiscally responsible, environmentally friendly, and cost effective to operate for the new owners. The ICF construction approach has incredible thermal resistance and reduces energy consumption 40 to 60 percent comparative to regular wood framed walls (see icfma.org).

Through the “Build With Strength” program, the NRMCA is making great strides to prove that concrete isn’t just for driveways and warehouses. A wide swath of builders, developers, and organizations are recognizing the fact that concrete, when utilized with ICFs, can improve the carbon footprint of a building while also providing a comfortable and cozy structure. This program is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Association’s (PHFA) PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) grant, and Dauphin County Local Share Gaming grant.

Design is underway for the project and CRA’s project team has been meeting with the owner and consultants to finalize the design for the project.

CRA and its consultant’s Barry Isett Engineering of Mechanicsburg and K&W Engineering of Harrisburg provided fees with a portion credited back as a donation to support Habitat for Humanity.  The team is also committed to helping during the construction process and organizing teams of volunteers to help assist with the construction of the house.

CRA Conceptual Rendering


“We look forward to opportunities such as these to give back to our community and help local families in need. We are excited to be part of the design process and help with the construction of these Habitat homes. What a great opportunity it is to be part of the first ICF Habitat home built in the state. We are looking forward to this project and developing a truly unique home for this site.”
Randy Davis, Principal, CRA.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity please visit their website at www.habitat.org.

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