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ICF Foundation Cost

How To Calculate The Cost Of ICF Foundations In Southern Ontario

The notion of estimating the cost of construction is as much art as it is math. This observation is particularly the case of decisions related to the custom home building.

One person may determine value by lowest cost or highest quality while another makes a decision purely on intangibles (i.e., comfort, “peace of mind,” design, etc.).


ICF Foundation

Regardless of the method to determine value, a homeowner should make informed decisions about foundation construction options.

Why ICF foundation?

Ninety percent of all basements in Canada are built using some form of a concrete wall system. The most favorite three are: 

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are polystyrene forms that stack like “Lego” blocks with steel rebar inside. These blocks are assembled on top of each other, and concrete is poured into the hollow core of the block to create walls.

Building with insulated concrete forms results in a durable, fire-resistant,  wind-proof, super-insulated, energy efficient, seismically superior, environmentally-friendly basements.

Why build a foundation with ICFs?

  • Your basement will feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • You will have the space available for expanding without the cost of adding more structure.
  • Your outside basement walls will be ready for drywall. No framing, insulation or vapor barrier needed to finish the wall.
  • One trade does it all. No bricklayers, waterproofers, farmers or insulation companies.
  • It can be done under adverse weather conditions. Concrete can be poured below freezing temperatures as it cures between two pieces of insulation and does not freeze.
  • Much faster time of construction. In most of the cases analyzed, ICF saved over 50% of the time needed to achieve the same result.

What does the typical ICF foundation cost?

Through many different studies of ICF construction costs, it has been determined that using ICF wall construction adds about 3% to the overall purchase price of a typical wood-frame home.

However, that number does not compare different methods of constructing a foundation. So, how do we figure out an average cost of ICF foundation?

Let’s get calculating:

Tha average 2500 sq.ft. home has approximately 230 linear feet of wall. If the wall is 8′ tall, you end up with  1840 gross sq. ft. of the ICF wall.

In this example, we’ll figure the area without windows and doors as the material and labour for installing and supplying the “bucks” is a trade-off for formed ICF wall area.

Costs for ICF basement usually breaks down to the following:

1. ICF forms (Nudura, Fox, QuadLock, Buildblock etc), 6″ cavity: @ around $4.00/sq. ft.

2. Reinforcing steel: @ $0.45 per lin. ft. = approx. $1.20 per sq. ft.

3. Concrete: @ $180.00 per cubic meter = approximately $2.00 per sq. ft.

4. Concrete pump: @ $180.00 per hour + per/meter charge = $1.00 per sq. ft.

5. Miscellaneous items: bracing rental, foam, glue, tie wire, clips, etc. @ $1.00 per sq. ft.

6. Labor to install: @ $7.00 per sq. ft. includes all overhead

The total cost of ICF  basement installed on concrete footings will comes to around $16.00 per square foot of completed basement wall in Southern Ontario or  around $30,000.00 for a basement discussed earlier.

Those numbers work well on the paper. However, ICF foundation cost also depends on the degree of difficulty of construction.

If the job has a lot of corners, or radius walls like most custom homes do, it slows the labor rate down; it will cost more per square foot to build.

The following is the list of other factors that determine the cost of your project:

  1. The concrete factor – how wide of a block will you use? What are the concrete prices like in your area?
  2. Which block will you use? Price varies according to the manufacturer and the distance for delivery.
  3. Some ICF installers will charge more if the client wants to use a particular block because it is harder to work with.
  4. How accessible is your building site? Is there a place to store a large volume of blocks.
  5. Who is going to engineer your project and are they familiar with ICFs? The cost of a project can increase drastically because of the extra rebar or other stuff engineers build in due to ignorance, and which the project does not need.

You should be able to speak with an installer in your area, give them an idea of your project and get a ballpark from them.

When it comes to ICF, you are paying for the expertise due to the concrete.

ICF is not a DIY job while some claim it is, one cannot compare it to wood framing a home.

It’s night and day difference. 90% of the horror stories out there from ICF are due to inexperienced people thinking they can DIY.

In Germany, one has to go through two years of on the job training with concrete before they can even pour jobs on their own.

Many times we hear that ICF is “not more expensive, just different.”

Whether ICF is more expensive than the poured concrete foundation is not something that can be said in blanket terms for all areas and every project.

Pricing of labor and materials, as well as building methods, vary widely. Every homeowner should be aware of the variables that affect their market areas to discuss the ICF option with confidence.

The lowest price doesn’t always get the nod, many times, the educated buyer is sold by the knowledge of the salesperson.

More on Wikipedia:

  1. Hi i looked over your costing on the icf forms. You’ve given a labour cost of 7.00 psf. Does that cost include the footings. And does a wall over 8 feet high make a difference in the per ft cost.

    • That cost does not include footings. Yes, tall walls cost a little more. How much? It depends on the installer.

  2. Hello how are you.. I was wondering how much it would cost for 1600sq ft foundation. Just regular corners like 1 big square box.. And i will be doing it myself.. I was trying to find how much the blocks would be here in Canada?

    • Approximately $25,000. Blocks cost about $4.00 – $5.00 per sq.ft. Fully finished ICF wall starts @ $18.00 per sq.ft. including steel, concrete, and labour.

  3. Hi We was looking for the cost of a house using ICF for the house. How much would a 1,000 sq ft with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms open kitchen to living room and finished.
    Thank you
    Susie K.

  4. Hi. Home will be built in the Calabogie area. Looking for referrals for 48x48x30 (3 sided box)… Looking for 9 foot walls….I calculated just under $20,000. Thanks

  5. Struggling to find the name of any mnfctr that could have built the steel beam trusses in my ICF homes roof. Need it for solar load roof calcs.
    Any clues/names appreciated.

  6. Do you have a list of contractors who work with ICF in my area (Sudbury)?

    • Contact the manufacturer of the ICF you are going to use. They should have a list of approved contractors for your area.

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