How To Calculate The Cost Of ICF Foundations In Southern Ontario
The concept of estimating the cost of construction is as much art as it is math. This conclusion is particularly the case of choices 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.).
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 favourite three are:
- concrete blocks
- poured concrete walls and
- insulated concrete forms.
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 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 10% 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 the average cost of ICF foundation?
Let’s get calculating:
The 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.
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:
- The concrete factor – how wide of a block will you use? What are the concrete prices like in your area?
- Which block will you use? Price varies according to the manufacturer and the distance for delivery.
- Some ICF installers will charge more if the client wants to use a particular block because it is harder to work with.
- How accessible is your building site? Is there a place to store a large volume of blocks?
- 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 a 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulating_concrete_form