Insulated Concrete Forms for Basement Walls

As Central Alberta’s supplier of NUDURA insulated concrete forms, we receive inquiries from contractors about the benefits of ICF for all sorts of applications (and there are many). The most common? Builders want to know whether or not all of the press about ICF being so superior for basement wall construction is indeed true. We’re not one to build suspense, so we’ll start with an emphatic “yes”, it’s all true. With that out of the way, allow us to expand further.

Why You Should Use ICF to Construct Basement Walls for Custom Homes

Accommodating Updated NECB Building Code Begins with the Basement

Over the past year and a half, builders and developers have been working to accommodate the Alberta Building Code update which came into force in November of 2016. The update sought to improve upon housing construction code energy efficiency standards in an effort to support the province’s Climate Change Strategy. This program acknowledges energy efficiency and conservation as an instrumental means to eradicate greenhouse emissions and reduce the strain on the province’s energy resources.

Fast forward to March 8, 2018 to find that Alberta has issued a release noting planned updates to energy efficiency codes. The newest edition of the energy code, which is currently based on the 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB), will be updated to the 2015 national code edition, including the 2017 interim changes to the NECB. In addition, there is now a new incentive for making the NECB 2015 (complete with the 2017 interim changes) the new required standard. You can download the NECB free of charge, right here.

To summarize, the updated NECB serves as an important step toward Alberta’s goal for new buildings and in achieving Net Zero Energy Ready (NZER) homes by the year 2030. And building a NZER home begins from the basement, its walls, and up. Recent data shows that tested ICF wall assembly generates up to 60% energy savings compared to a traditional insulated wood frame cavity wall. View more on how insulated concrete forms are being used to build NetZero homes in Alberta.

End User Satisfaction is Built from the Ground Up

Building codes aside, end users (homeowners and/or occupants) are the ones who will provide valuable feedback, and will be instrumental in the ongoing success of how you build basement foundations in the future. For many, the aforementioned 60% savings on monthly utility expenditure is everything, but there is so much more. Below, we have summarized (with links) the homeowner/resident benefits of using insulated concrete forms for basement wall construction:

Can Build on Practically Any Geographic Feature

As homeowners seek to escape the growing densified residential districts of Alberta, demand for custom homes in more rural locations rises. But this demand is not always easy to accommodate, especially when there are challenges with the literal lay of the land.

For example, Alberta is home to thousands of metres of bedrock, one of the most challenging geographic features to build a foundation on. Clients should not have to miss out on some prime real estate because of the concerns around building on bedrock. When you offer ICF as a basement wall building solution, they won’t have to. ICF makes building on bedrock more seamless. Insulated concrete forms can be better shaped to adapt to the natural contours of geographic elements. In addition, ICF products and supplies can be transported with ease (compared to more cumbersome traditional construction materials) to the province’s more rural locations. View more on this topic here.

Big Names Back ICF

It’s one thing to take our word for it, but we understand that no matter what an assumption of bias may be made. But there are others without direct vested interest in ICF that can’t help but sing the praises of insulated concrete forms, those who have a reputation on the line, with hoards of viewers/followers waiting to call them out on their advice (should it go sideways). For example, there’s nary a name more synonymous with home renovation and construction in Canada than Mike Holmes. The HGTV personality has referenced ICF as being the superior building method of choice when it comes to basement foundation construction on many occasions.

Honestly, you’ll find that with a little digging the list goes on and on. The bottom line, is that if those with their name on the line are happy to herald the benefits of ICF, you can feel confident in doing the same for your own client projects.


If you’re about to break ground on a home basement foundation (and more) in Central Alberta, make the right move and contact Total ICF for more information on insulated concrete forms.