Look at ICF total cost for wall construction decisions

| by David Morris
Look at ICF total cost for wall construction decisions

Higher performing homes don't have to carry a higher price tag.

The growth of insulated concrete form construction for both walls and foundations reflects homebuilders' interest in delivering greater value to homebuyers while keeping construction costs in check.

For basements and crawlspaces, ICF construction offers an attractive alternative to more traditional methods such as poured in place or concrete blocks. Unlike poured in place walls, there are no forms to set up and remove, which cuts construction time.

Cost wise, ICF walls are usually competitive with formed and poured reinforced concrete foundation walls when the cost of basement insulation is included in the analysis.

ICF walls perform better because there are fewer seams to seal. And the insulation remains on the walls, improving thermal performance of the home.

While the cost of a bare block or poured wall is less, ICF construction has competitive overall cost when viewing the wall as a system. ICFs provide insulation and furring strips, and is ready to finish, making it a cost effective and less labor-intensive choice compared to a frame wall at the same stage of construction.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development studied ICF construction in its report "COSTS AND BENEFITS OF INSULATING CONCRETE FORMS FOR RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION." After several studies of ICF construction costs, HUD determined that using ICF wall construction generally adds about 3 to 5 percent to the total purchase price of a typical wood-frame home and land (about 5 to 10 percent of the house construction cost).

In other words, the added cost is about $2 to $4 per square foot of the floor area of a typical home. For a typical 2,500 square-foot, two-story home and lot (sale price of $180,000), the additional cost amounts to about $7,000. "The additional first cost of ICF construction should be weighed against longer-term benefits," the report said.

There can also be offsetting reductions in other costs, such as the ability to use lower capacity and less expensive HVAC equipment.

With greater energy efficiency comes reduced utility bills. An ICF home can cut energy bills in half and can achieve a HERS index in the 40-50 range, which means they are outperforming existing building codes by 50 to 60 percent.

Topics: Building Green, Insulated Concrete Forms - ICF

Companies: Fox Blocks

David Morris
A Detroit native, David T. Morris, LEED® Green Associate, used his drive for entrepreneurship, innovation & new product development to develop a patented product and later took a new building product to market. In 2012, he became U.S. East Regional Manager with Fox Blocks, a division of Airlite Plastics Company, managing ICF sales in seven states. Since 2006, David has delivered more than 140 IFA/ICF training seminars to contractors, plus another 120 presentations to architects and engineers. He is a featured speaker and SME on High-Performance Buildings, and his efforts have resulted in environmentally friendly construction being specified for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings throughout the country.

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