Insulated concrete form is becoming a popular way to construct homes. This innovative building material is generally made of polystyrene foam blocks with space in between to pour a concrete wall.
Previously, builders only used insulated concrete forms (ICF) blocks for foundation walls. However, many companies are now going a step further and using them for the above-grade walls of one, two, and three-story homes.
If you are planning to build with ICF, the biggest question on your mind may be how much they will cost you.
This article will look at how much ICF blocks cost, along with places you can buy them.
Table of Contents
- What is the Cost of ICF Blocks?
- Insulated Concrete Forms House Cost
- ICF Cost Per Square Foot
- Insulated Concrete Forms Construction Cost
- Insulated Walls and Foundation Cost
- Factors Impacting the Cost of ICF Blocks
- ICF vs. Wood-Frame Construction Cost
- How Much Can ICF Save?
- Are ICF Blocks Worth the Cost?
- Places to Buy ICF Blocks From
- Last Few Words
What is the Cost of ICF Blocks?
Generally, local building suppliers sell insulated concrete forms. Presently, the price of a regular ICF block measuring 16-inch x 48-inch lies in the $24-$28 range. This figure works out to roughly $4.50-$5.50/sq foot of wall area. However, the exact cost depends on the country or region you purchase it.
Insulated Concrete Forms House Cost
According to HomeAdvisor, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300,000 and $320,000 on average for a 2,000-square foot house. Most home builders use insulated concrete forms for all concrete construction unless you live in a warmer climate.
When pouring concrete in the conventional method, professionals put wooden forms into place and then remove them after.
However, the ICF method is different as the forms stay in place and become a part of the wall or foundation. This process results in excellent insulation and more durable and even stronger walls.
ICF Cost Per Square Foot
ICF home construction typically costs around $150-$160 per square foot. It is comparable to the price of a concrete house, if not identical.
Construction crews generally don’t price insulated concrete forms by the linear foot. Nevertheless, the price could lie between $103 – $205 per linear foot.
Some contractors use ICF interchangeably with poured and removable forms, which is why you should talk to your contractor to determine which method is better.
Insulated Concrete Forms Construction Cost
Construction prices depend on several factors, including:
- Complexity of the project – Two and three-story houses and custom homes generally cost more.
- Location – If there aren’t too many ICF contractors located near you, it will cost more for them to travel.
- Material – Different concrete mixes have different costs. For instance, fly ash mixes cost less than cement mixes.
Insulated Walls and Foundation Cost
ICF wall installations costs around $7 per square foot. You can expect almost the same prices for the cost of building a foundational ICF wall. Since the forms stay in place, ICF is less time-consuming and generally costs less than poured concrete.
Factors Impacting the Cost of ICF Blocks
Here is a list of factors that can impact the cost of ICF blocks.
- Concrete – What is the width of the ICF block? What is the price of concrete in your area?
- Manufacturer – Prices depend on the manufacturer and the distance of delivery.
- ICF Block – Certain ICF contractors charge more for specific ICF blocks that are harder to work with.
- Project Complexity – Is your building site easily accessible? Is there space to store a large number of blocks?
- Project Engineer – Who will engineer your project, and what familiarity do they have with ICF blocks?
The cost of a particular project can increase significantly due to using additional rebar, and other steps engineers might take in ignorance. You should speak to a contractor in your area and give them an overview of your project to get an estimate from them.
ICF vs. Wood-Frame Construction Cost
As mentioned above, insulated concrete forms cost around $150 per square foot. This price is 2-7% higher than conventional wood-frame construction. All in all, you will end up spending about 5-10% more in total construction costs than you would for a traditional wood-frame house.
Moreover, the time needed to compile all the required permits for an ICF house will take longer than permits for traditional construction.
As this isn’t the norm in the homebuilding industry, the permitting process can be slightly more arduous. However, a licensed builder will probably be well-versed with the process to make it a quicker and smoother experience.
How Much Can ICF Save?
The savings and payback of an ICF house are relative to what you’re comparing them with. They also depend on the construction quality of your house.
For example, if you have a house with an incredibly tight building envelope, you can enjoy considerable savings. While you probably will pay 5-10% more upfront for an ICF house, your energy bills will be lower than if you build a wood-frame house to ordinary standards.
Are ICF Blocks Worth the Cost?
The number of new homebuyers who build their houses with ICF blocks increases every year. Here are some advantages of ICF blocks that make them worth the cost.
ICF blocks offer excellent thermal insulation and can eliminate the need for conventional thermal insulation. Due to their high energy efficiency, homes constructed with ICF can acquire an ‘A’ insulation rating for efficiency.
The high degree of energy efficiency means that less energy is required to heat the home and thus, leads to lower energy bills.
Homes constructed with ICF exterior walls need approximately 32% less energy to cool and 44% less energy to heat than wood-frame homes. The bigger your house, the higher the savings.
In colder regions of Canada and the US, heating savings will be higher and cooling savings will be relatively lower. Contrarily, in hotter areas, cooling savings will be higher, whereas heating savings will be lower.
High Structural Integrity
Unlike other building materials, such as wood, ICF blocks are highly durable. They are resistant to rot, insect infestation, moisture, and other elements that can weaken the structural integrity of your home.
Additionally, insulated concrete form houses can also respond well to seismic activity and inclement weather like strong winds. This results because the steel ties are designed and interlocked within every wall of ICF blocks. These ties strengthen the structure and keep it intact even during extreme weather conditions.
Traditional construction methods tend to consider soundproofing as an afterthought. However, insulated concrete form offers acoustic insulation naturally. Blocks used to construct walls lead to extremely thick, solid walls that don’t allow noise to permeate.
ICF blocks aren’t just a good option for residential buildings where tranquility is essential but also ideal for commercial structures where soundproofing is vital to the function of the building. For example, movie theatres generally
utilize insulated concrete forms.
Places to Buy ICF Blocks From
If you’ve decided to use ICF blocks for your house’s construction, you should know some of the best places to purchase them. Here is a list of the most reliable online retailers and stores that sell high-grade ICF blocks.
ICF Supply Co.
ICF Supply Co. was founded by Mr. Ryan, a construction executive from West Hartford, Connecticut, with a vast residential and commercial construction background.
He started working in the insulated concrete form industry in 1998, constructing weather-tight structures for homeowners and general contractors, including commercial buildings, homes, and foundations.
A member of the Home Builders Association of Hartford County and the Insulating Concrete Form Association, Mr. Ryan has become an expert in commercial and residential insulated concrete form construction. His website has several ICF blocks available for sale, including:
- ICF 6 Inch Straight Form (16″x 48″)
- ICF 6 Inch Corner Form (16″x 54″)
- ICF 8 Inch Straight Form (16″x 48″)
- ICF 8 Inch Corner Form (16″x 58″).
All these blocks are available in bundles of 12.
BuildBlock Building Systems
CEO Mike Garrett formed BuildBlock Building Systems in 2004. Mike had been a major distributor for two other major ICF companies and spent over 12 years in distribution and construction and another 15 years in small commercial and residential building.
He pioneered the use of ICF blocks in Oklahoma by creating BuildBlock ICF to overcome the costs and problems encountered with other forms.
BuildBlock Building Systems has several ICF blocks available on its website, including 4-inch, 6-inch, and 8-inch blocks. In addition, it has several ICF accessories and kits available on its website to facilitate the installation process.
A great thing about buying BuildBlock block is that the company’s sales, technical, and customer support teams are available to answer all your questions and ensure the job is done correctly.
Alibaba is a leading online Chinese retailer offering manufacturers various ICF blocks on its platform.
When purchasing from Alibaba, you need to adhere to the minimum order quantities set by the supplier. You can also contact the supplier to ask them any questions and negotiate lead times.
One thing you should check before buying from Alibaba is whether the seller is verified and how long they’ve been selling on the platform. This way, you can ensure you’re buying from a reliable and trustworthy supplier.
You should also go through the seller’s feedback from past customers. If the feedback is mostly positive, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make your purchase here!
Insulated Concrete Form Supply Inc.
Insulated Concrete Form Supply sells a variety of ICF blocks, tools, and accessories that are needed to construct insulated concrete forms. You can purchase high-quality, code-approved blocks in Wisconsin from your chosen supplier.
Cable Ties and More
Another place to buy insulated concrete form blocks is Cable Ties and More. It currently has 18 different blocks from FoxBlock.
Foxblocks® ICF – Insulated Concrete Forming Blocks are an excellent wall system you can use in a building envelope to acquire a high Energy Star rating. Their R-value of R-23 stays consistent for above and below grade commercial and residential projects. These ICF blocks feature embedded anchors that easily install sidings and drywall directly to ICF walls and are fire-resistant for up to 4 hours.
While purchasing ICF blocks from Cable Ties and More, you can filter your options according to the type of FoxBlock you want (90-degree block, 45-degree angle block, etc.) and the core width (4 inches, 6 inches, 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches).
The best thing about ordering from here is that you will get your ICF blocks delivered within 5 to 10 days.
eBay has a wide range of construction materials available on its platform to cater to all your building needs, including ICF blocks.
BELCO blocks are 100% recyclable and create a virtually soundproof environment while preventing pollen and dust from entering the house.
Last Few Words
ICF blocks are an excellent building material that offers high energy efficiency, safety, and acoustic insulation.
The cost of building can depend on factors like your manufacturer, the brand you choose, the project’s complexity. While the initial overhead might be a little high, you can expect significant long-term savings in the form of lower energy bills.
Speak to your contractor to learn more about how ICF blocks can benefit you and the payback period you can expect. Also, remember always to purchase ICF from trustworthy and reliable retailers.
Whether you are a homeowner, builder, or architect, it’s undoubtedly worth your time to take a deeper look at ICF walls.