May 15, 2011
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It all starts with a solid foundation. That has been an expression forever, I am sure we have all heard it and even used in paraphrasing someone.


ICF's or Insulated Concrete Forms are always gaining popularity in the construction world, although still a small blip on the radar map every year the manufacturers boast about sales increasing, year after year. As codes are changing and insulation requirements are getting stricter ICF's are growing in popularity, as a matter of fact, and I am going off subject here, January 1st, 2012 the building code in Ontario Canada changes and ICF's are expected to be seen in 7 out of 10 foundations going in, that's 70%, considering today it may be 3%, that's an unheard of increase, now lets see if it happens.


On to the footings...for ICF's


The footing is the first and foremost important part of ICF construction. Over the years I have seen footings in tract homes out by 6" and the wall forming crew shows up, sets up there forms and pour away using the lowest point as the top of wall, so the suppose to be 8'-0" basement becomes ~7'-6" and no one really cares, it's a tract home, the people who buy them, they don't really notice or don't really care.


With ICF, the industry touts the importance of a level footing, ~1/4" and with good reason. Since ICF blocks are designed to lock together like Lego Blocks they want to sit on a flat level surface and if the footing is too high, too low, out of level it needs to be fixed. There are a few ways to correct it, one being to shim the wall as needed to raise the blocks to the highest point, or cut the blocks to meet the lowest point. What for, when all it is going to take is a little bit of extra time to check and double check with the laser prior to pour and again check it as you are pouring the footings.


I will be the first to admit, I am the most expensive footing quote you will get, because I am building the ICF wall on top of it and I know how much time I spend building the footing right. I have seen people balk at my footing price because his slab guy or carpenter (who's usually are not bad) give a bid for up to 1/2 of what I charge. There is a way to overcome this, if I don't build and pour the footing and I show up to start the wall and find the footing out by more than ~1/4" or the steps footings were built to the wrong dimensions I charge $ XX.XX per foot...for the entire length of the footing. Now if you take this amount into consideration, it usually exceeds the savings by using someone else.


Some people tell me to settle down, that I can't do that, that it is ridiculous, etc. But at the end of the day I priced the ICF work which did not include me losing a day or sometimes two having to get the job started because someone just didn't care enough and was rushing. I went to a job last summer, the GC had his crew do the footings just to keep them busy, as usual I was too expensive. The older gentlemen on site, about 62 or so, couldn't understand why I was complaining...All as he said was 'It's just a footing, no one is ever going to see it'. Well after seeing us mess around for 2 days fixing his 'it's just a footing', he understands why I preach the importance of it...and charge for it.


This blogging is new to me, if you want more info on ICF's leave comments below and I will reply

Comments (5)

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  • No-avatar-62
    22 Constitutionabout 9 years ago

    Good information. What brand ICF's are you installing?

  • Thumb_dsc04853
    stoneman203about 9 years ago

    Once done cheap, then done twice as expensive.

  • No-avatar-62
    amybportabout 9 years ago

    Thanks for the blog Chris. I work for a builder on the Florida coast who is building primarily with ICF IntegraSpec. I'm trying to figure out the best way to educate potential clients on ICF and sell against non-ICF builders. Can you recommend any online articles or websites that might help with this? It seems like a no-brainer in a hurricane prone area but the non-ICF guys are doing a good job convincing people it's a waste of money.


    (New to the construction business so go easy on me. : )

  • No-avatar-62
    INHOFF systemsabout 9 years ago

    Do it ONCE. DO IT RIGHT.

    I just always tell our clients: Why put something in or on the ground that you have to remove later? So, our guys use the proper type of products that do not need to be removed (i.e.- we don't use wooden forms for the footing, which require removal) and will act as the drainage tile later. Use the ICF's, not just in the basement. Over 86% of our clients who used our ICF just in the basement REGRET having made that decision.
    Highest dis-satisfaction rating with their own decision in the industry. And yes, ask around. Other manufacturers will give you similar percentages.

  • Thumb_amir_shed_build_day_3_(18)
    FramingProover 8 years ago

    this is very good information. same thing with floor framing. if you mess up you have to waste time to cheat things. Start right end right. I have pics of some footings that chris did. Take note This is how its done. (y)

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