Construction Technology | March 11th, 2020

How ICF Basements are Creating Advantages for Homeowners and Builders

Basements serve a variety of purposes from storage, to utility rooms to flex space and everything in between. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the request for basements with our modular homes. While our single-family plans are typically designed to keep everything on one level, we do build homes meant to sit on a basement.

We build with ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) basements – a specific construction style designed for efficiency and speed. We’re here to talk about how a high-performance ICF basement may be the last puzzle piece to your dream home.

What is an ICF basement and how does it differ from a poured concrete basement?

Constructing a traditional concrete foundation requires placing forms on top of footings. After that, steel rebar is placed between the forms to reinforce the structural integrity of the walls. The final step in this process is to pour concrete into forms that must be removed when the concrete is cured.

An ICF basement is one that relies on hollow foam bricks stacked in the shape of exterior underground walls. It involves dry-stacking polystyrene foam panels to a foundations length. Rebar is then placed between the blocks to reinforce the structure. Then, concrete is poured directly between the hollow form panels.


ICF Basement

Poured Concrete Basement

There is a specific framework for developing an ICF basement to ensure the advantages remain the forefront of construction.


Step 1: pour concrete footings where walls sit on top.

Once your basement is dug it is necessary to have concrete footings poured to ensure it can bare the weight of your basement and modular home. Geotech requirements such as soil testing must be met before determining the footing design.

Step 2: dig basement to desired height

ICF basements can be a variety of heights. We typically dig our basements 4ft and then form them to 9ft to accommodate windows for additional natural light.

Step 3: place ICF blocks on footings and add rebar

Installing rebar reinforces the ICF blocks to ensure it can bare the full weight of the home.

Step 4: Pour concrete only on the inside of ICF blocks.

The foam on the outside of the blocks makes it easier to form and pour in the winter because of ICF insulating properties. This process is considerably tidier due to the rigid framework.

Step 5: Lay waterproofing membrane on the outside below grade ICF blocks.

Step 6: Parge the exposed ICF block up to the bottom of the modular home.

Why do I need an ICF Basement as opposed to a traditional basement?

ICF Basements are built faster

Let’s look at the facts. ICF basements are a faster build on site meaning your project can be completed quickly and efficiently.

ICF blocks come pre-manufactured and stack like lego. A traditional basement requires forming with wood framing that needs to be removed when cured. There is no removal of materials with an ICF basement.


Insulation and energy efficiency benefits

ICF blocks act as an additional insulation barrier and contribute to a more energy efficient home. Basements of this variety ultimately have a better R value and help keep heat in and your electricity bill lower.

Drywall applied easily

You can finish drywall straight onto the ICF blocks as opposed to a traditional basement where framing, insulating, vapour barrier, drywall and painting all need to be complete.

Flexibility with exterior finishes

See Bryan Baeumler demonstrate the ICF basement building process!

Whether you need a basement for storage or living space – we have you covered. Jandel Homes is your ICF Basement expert with over 45 years of industry experience. Contact one of our Sales Centres to learn how an ICF basement is the right fit for you.

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