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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

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulating_concrete_form

34 Comments
  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.
    Thanx,
    Steve

  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.

      • Hi, I want to know the cost of 2500sq home putting up the whole exterior wall all the way to the roof. Approximately how much am I looking for ?

  7. Hello ADMIN, do you just do foundation walls, if so I would like to email plans for a home I am planning to start excavation in may 2018 in Weston village, Toronto west.

    Regards,
    Bruno

  8. Hello
    We are building a 69 x 28’ garage with an 450 sq ft loft/living space over top/centred above the garage. There will be a crawl space under a large portion of the garage. No basement required.
    Im looking for some guidance. Is ICF recommended or necessary? In any case, an approximation of cost would be much appreciated.
    Lewis

  9. Calculated the cost for install of 8′ walls for a 1500sqft home at $18.00 however I am wondering how much I should add for Flat work such as floors and porches? This is for budget purpose only at this stage.
    Thank You

  10. After drywall goes onto the exterior walls how do you hang pictures or tvs on the walls? Do you have to anchor them to the cement? What about your plumbing? Where do you run that if needed on exterior wall?

  11. we have a land the size is 164 x 24 feet, we plant to build a 3 storey ( max. 30 feet high) bachelor room for student. if we do ICF Foundation, what is the costs ?

    Thanks
    Tim

  12. need insulated concreate foundation 24x42x8 in Wasaga Beach

  13. Hi, so reading your article above we want to add on an a basement addition to the house. It’s about 393 sq. ft so call it 400. Doing my math at 16.00/ft/sq means $6400.00. Aside from digging the hole which would be additional what else would be required on top of the $6400.00? Weep tiles, drainage etc?

    • It is calculated by the square foot of a wall area, not floor area. So, your pricing is wrong. Also, your description of a job lacks details. If you want us to price this job for you, we need to see the complete set of plans.

  14. Hello..I am new here in canada I wonder if I found a lot and I want to build a house just foundation with the basics. My husband can do the drywalls, trims, the painting and all other interior job. How much it cost for 1000 sqf.for basement and one floor. With garage
    Thank you.

    • Wow! Without a house plan? It will cost you from $40,000 to $500,000. Please read the articles on our website. House costs and how to price a home are discussed in several of them.

  15. hi
    What is the best building materials?
    What are the best types of houses and the cost

  16. I have an old cottage in Orillia, Approx 1400sq. Wanting to rebuild a new house for the same size, would it be cheaper to have it renovate 80% of the house ( like keeping 1 existing wall)than building a brand new home from scratch.

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