Building Costs,Home Performance,Pre-Construction Planning,

Exploring the Cost Difference: ICF Foundation vs. Conventional Concrete Foundation

At Vleeming Custom Homes, we recognize the pivotal role of informed decision-making when laying the foundation for your dream home. This blog examines the cost disparity between an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) foundation and a conventional concrete foundation, placing particular emphasis on insulation and overall performance. 

Project Overview

Delving into the specifics of our Homestead Project for comparison, constructed in 2024, our clients chose a slab-on-grade approach. This design choice signifies the absence of any basement living space beneath the primary level. In the context of this project, the foundation’s primary focus leans more towards structural considerations than insulation values. Although not mandated to provide warmth to a living space, it’s crucial to acknowledge that in high-performance housing, minimizing heat loss increases the risk of ground frost accumulation around and beneath the home. While insulation on the foundation wall may not be a code requirement, it remains a notable advantage in ICF construction. 

Foundation Details

The foundation features two primary heights: 260 linear feet of 4′ tall wall in the first section and 94 linear feet of 3’8″ tall wall in the second. Each section incorporates an 8″ thick concrete wall atop a 24″ x 8″ footing. The wall incorporates three rows of 15mm rebar, cross bars, and footing dowels aligned with the spacing of the wall’s vertical rebar. Both horizontal and vertical 15mm rebar are strategically placed at 16″ on center. 

Cost Breakdown

The all-inclusive cost of the ICF foundation system is $42,440.38. In contrast, the conventional non-insulated concrete foundation wall totals $38,849. While the ICF foundation may seem initially pricier by $3,591.38, it is crucial to consider the long-term benefits and cost savings associated with insulation. 

Insulation Considerations

Adding 2″ (R10) of rigid insulation exclusively to the exterior side of the conventional foundation wall incurs an additional cost of $5,560. This brings the total cost of the conventionally insulated foundation to $44,409, exceeding the ICF foundation expense. Notably, the ICF wall inherently includes 2.75″ (R12) of rigid insulation on each side, yielding a total insulation value of R24 – providing 140% more insulation at an overall lower cost, resulting in superior thermal performance without the need for extra insulation. 

Performance and Value

Despite a slightly higher upfront cost of 9.24%, the ICF foundation’s superior insulation properties and energy efficiency translate to long-term savings on heating and cooling. Added benefits include increased durability, reduced environmental impact, and enhanced comfort, positioning the ICF foundation as a cost-effective and sustainable choice in the long run. 

Conclusion

Upon comparing the cost of an ICF foundation versus a conventional concrete foundation with supplementary insulation, the choice to invest in quality building products becomes apparent. The ICF foundation’s superior performance and energy efficiency make it a smart and sustainable choice for homeowners wanting to construct a resilient and energy-efficient home. At Vleeming Custom Homes, we remain committed to delivering exceptional quality and durability. 

Published June 4th, 2024.

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