ICF Basement Wall Construction

ICF provides for a more energy efficient home and is the future of green building, you say? OK, fair enough. By now, you’ve been inundated with these facts, and if you hear the phrase “tested R-Value of 23.59” one more time you may seal yourself into a concrete block (which would be pretty effective given the soundproofing properties of ICF). But there are some key features that builders who have yet to cut their teeth with this building product don’t yet know, especially as they apply to basement construction – the foundation of insulated concrete form applications. Today, as Central Alberta’s premier supplier of NUDURA we’re here to shed some light on these attributes so that you can make a more informed choice to move forward with ICF for your next basement (and custom home) build.

Four Additional Things You Need to Know About Using Insulated Concrete Forms to Build Better Basements (and Homes)

1. Bracing and Alignment – Keeping the Wall Straight and Plumb

One of the most commonly asked questions to come after builders consider what comes next after the ICF blocks are stacked to the preferred height and steel rods put in place, is how to keep the basement wall (and the rest of the wall, for that matter) straight and plumb during the building process. Thanks to a groundbreaking alignment system, installers can brace and align NUDURA walls through a turnbuckle system that moves the wall in or out to ensure that it remains straight. If the answer seems too simple, it’s because the process also is.

2. Placing Concrete into the Basement Wall is Made Easier

Some builders are at a bit of a loss when it comes to pouring concrete into the ICF constructed walls. NUDURA has made a very clear recommendation on the matter, stating that a concrete pump is the preferred method. A concrete pump allows you (the installer) to move around the perimeter of the house  without obstruction, and in a timely manner, further adding to the quick building benefits that ICF already affords.

3. Labour and Cost Drop Even Faster After the Pour

Once the concrete has been poured into the basement walls and the services are roughed in, the walls are ready for drywall as the insulation and fastening strips for the drywall or finish layer are built into the ICF. With a conventional basement, once the concrete has been poured, the wood forms have to be stripped off and a wood wall has to be built inside of the concrete to allow for services to be run in the wall and to provide centres to fasten drywall. The traditional wall still needs vapour barrier and insulation too. The ICF system saves time and effort as it provides for all building steps in one system. This bucks the initial preconception that ICF builds are more expensive. Sure, the blocks themselves may cost more that lumber, but once builders zip through the building process they soon see the cost of labour, materials, and opportunity cost of not being able to move on to the next project dissipate. This lower overall cost on construction is also passed on to the end user, a massive benefit that they don’t yet know about.

4. End Consumers (Home Buyers) Know Nothing About ICF

The entire construction industry resides within a bit of a bubble. We’re all so caught up in coming up with better and more innovative ways to build while holding our cards close to the chest due to the competitive nature of residential development, that we forget to market key features to the general public. This public represents the end consumer, the home buyers that will demand insulated concrete form constructed houses once they truly grasp the benefits. But at the moment, they know nothing about ICF. Nothing.

Sure, a Mike Holmes article on the topic may have passed their periphery and ICF may be looped in with the word NetZero which may seem like an unattainable or irrelevant label to them at this point in time. But when they find out about the benefits, the ones that we take for granted because we’re so close to the subject, an outcry will come from this consumer base, wondering why ICF is not yet the standard in new home construction.

From now on, when people say “They don’t make houses like they used to” you may now confidently reply with “You’re damn right we don’t”, followed by an accounting of how an ICF home will directly save them money on utilities and insurance costs, while providing a space that is more comfortable, more soundproof, mold/mildew resistant, sturdier, safer, and just as customizable (if not more) as any traditional form of residential construction.

If any of the above caught you by surprise, and/or you feel you and your team could use more in-depth eduction on the use and applications of insulated concrete forms in Alberta home construction, you’ll be happy to know that you can take advantage of our training programs. For any additional questions about ICF, contact us today at 403-887-2214.