Cost of building ICF or stick built
Last Post 02 Jun 2013 10:16 PM by robinnc. 47 Replies.
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robinncUser is Offline
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22 Jul 2007 12:23 AM
I have been searching for some time trying to figure out the 'real' difference. I get prices (percentage) all over the place. I really want(and believe in  ICF) to build ICF but don't want to get in the middle of the construction only to find out it's gonna cost quite a bit more. I'm planing on building within the next 6 months for my personal home. I plan on using my home as a learning exp. for ICF.  I am going to start building houses as a profession. Been wanting to do this since I grad from college 25 yrs ago! I've always had a passion for building houses!  I'm sick of the corp world!  Anyway......I live in the Charlotte, NC area.  The house I plan on building will be approx. 2900 sf. One story with a walkout basement and a bonus room upstairs. I've done a search on here for the last 2 yrs and really can't find any info except....well it 'might' be 'X' difference. I know you folks can't give me an exact figure but was hoping someone that actually built 'stick' and changed over to ICF 'might' be able to give some acurate info. I've just finished building my first spec house(3900sf heated, in gated neighborhood.....I know....I shouldn't have started this size for the first one!......but I've learned one hellava lot) here"stick'...so I know what that runs in this area. FYI....labor for framing runs on averge for stick $425-4.75. If it's has roof trusses....it runs $2.50-3.25. If anyone knows someone in this area building ICF....please send info. VERY few houses are built ICF here. If I'm not fishing on weekends I spend alot of time going around looking at houses being built. I've only seen 3 houses built ICF in 22 yrs!....and that includes 1000's of houses! 
 I'd like to set my self apart from the other builders here by building ICF but I HAVE to be able to compete. I know alot of that is education your customer.....   
icfcontractorUser is Offline
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22 Jul 2007 09:59 AM
Robin,

The answer is... it depends. There are a lot of factors that go into the price difference. Some are price of lumber(very volitile), price of concrete in your area, skill level of the builder and their crew with ICF, building design, building engineering, type of land being built on (sloped, flat, hilly, cliff), basement, no basement,... the list goes on.

But here in the Pacific NW I helped a builder who designed and built a 1600 sqft home. His total building costs were $199,850.00 or so. We then built it ICF after he made a few modifications to the building to accomidate ICF. He upgraded to radiant floor heat, put in a slab on grade instead of the crawl space and few other minor changes. The building costs were less than $2000.00 more to build basically the same home. It was right at $201,500.00. That was with an inexperienced crew. I feel with an experienced crew it would have been less.

ICF Contractor
robinncUser is Offline
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22 Jul 2007 11:51 PM

Thanks ICF for the reply.....unfortunately I know there would be variables. I guess the main problem here is there is hardly 'any' competition for ICF.
A $200,000 actual 'cost' to build for a 1600sf house would be unheard of here. It would run at least 80 grand less for that size home, including brick veneer(all 4 sides).....crawl space, etc. If that is all of the difference there....it would be a no brainer to go ICF.
 I did a quick ck on what lumber would be saved...of course all ext wall studs and sheathing for sides. It would be a walkout basement so no wood for floor.  This would only save around 4500 bucks. I guess I need to get the plans and talk to the very few ICF guys around here and see what it would run.

add....the 'cost' I'm using does not include a garage. I forgot to say that.

slenzenUser is Offline
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25 Jul 2007 05:50 PM
Does this survey reveal hidden true cost of ICF and is it being covered up by the industry? Or is the survey flawed?



ICF Survey Shows Higher Costs, but Data May Be Useless
July 18, 2007
A new survey sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and the Portland Cement Association suggests that construction costs for homes using Insulated Concrete Forms are as much as 38 percent to 100 percent higher than cost for homes using traditional materials.

The lower end of the range pertain to below-grade use, while costs for above-grade walls using ICF construction are found to be double that of wood-frame homes. Energy cost savings mitigate the additional costs to a degree.

But the survey’s authors caution that the study may be flawed because of poor response, small sample size and many respondents failing to fill out their responses correctly.

The new study is an update of a 2005 study, also conducted by the NAHB Research Center with the support of PCA, which showed the cost differential to be as low as 4 percent. While the survey’s authors had expected a return rate of 20 percent, the actual return rate was far below that, and many of the surveys returned did not answer the questions in the manner the researchers required in order for the data to be useful.
James EggertUser is Offline
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25 Jul 2007 07:57 PM
If you are going to indicate a "survey" which very well may be of interest to many people, why not post a link, and not use inuendos?

Most of us do not have the time to search thru the massive NAHB site, and as I receive multiple magazines directly associated with ICFs, I have not seen this new survey. I do agree though, that any survey with limited responses just doesn't do any product any good, because of skewed results!!
Take Care
Jim

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"Not So Big" Design Proponent
slenzenUser is Offline
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25 Jul 2007 09:30 PM
Where are the innuendos?

The article was published in Permanent Buildings & Foundations trade mag. I have searched cement.org and nahb.org and cannot find the survey. I'm surprised they would even publish any results (PBF mag must have seen them) if they thought the inputs were inadequate.

I was looking for some documented cost info like everyone else and came across this and decided to post it.
robinncUser is Offline
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27 Jul 2007 12:32 AM
It seems the cost of ICF vs and stick building doesn't get discussed here very much. As I said earlier....I went back 2 1/2 yrs and there was very very very little said about it. I really believe in ICF but 'still' can't find 'acurrate' info on the costs. I'm very disapointed this site won't talk about the cost! I KNOW it varies across the country....as everything does.......I've learned early on when building there is 'GC' pricing and 'consumer' pricing with subs.....which there is a large $ amount dif. Maybe ICF folks are trying to keep it in the 'consumer' pricing level since it's not the norm yet? It's very frustrating!!!!!!!  I KNOW ICF is superior to stick building.....no question there......but there is a huge BUT????????????......and everyone seems to dance around the question. Is there a GC out there that used to build 'stick' and converted to ICF? Or builds both to compare????????????   
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27 Jul 2007 11:25 AM
robinncUser is Offline
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28 Jul 2007 12:28 AM
If that's true.....I'd be a no brainer NOT to build ICF!!!!!!!!.....That's what I'm talking about. NOBODY seems to want 'really' discuss the 'true' cost of building ICF. I 'assumed' at this web site the truth might be discovered. But aparantly not. Is there ANY GC out there that has built both willing to discuss????????????????
James EggertUser is Offline
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28 Jul 2007 09:02 AM
You know I read that in PBF, and thought I would wait to read more data when available! Its good that you brought this up again.

However, I do agree that purported ICF costs are more than the 3-7% difference from earlier reports. What I also see is that unless someone, either the contractor, designer, architect, or the homeowner themselves, reviews and thinks about how all the parts of an ICF home function and work together, and then COMPARES it to the same assembly of necessary parts of say a wood frame building so thery can see side by side what the return values and costs are over varied time periods, then the fact that the price is different, albeit more expensive, is useless information. Some people will pay for long-term performance, others want a short-term build and move lifestyle.

It doesn't matter what something costs unless there is no return that HAS VALUE by using a more expensive product. I guess it's like buying a Timex versus a Rolex, different people perceive value(return) different ways!

As for me, I'm in the middle and go TAG!
Take Care
Jim

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"Not So Big" Design Proponent
PatrickTUser is Offline
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28 Jul 2007 09:16 AM

robinnc,

Unless you are building this personal home yourself, you will be using local contractors. get prices from your contractors on your walk out basement for both ICF and poured concrete. You will likely find the poured walls are $7.50 a sq-ft of wall and the ICF is $10-12. But to complete the comparrison consider the insulation and webs makes the ICF much closer to a living space. For your personal home with the main space on the lower level, I'd use ICF.

As far as the upper levels, sure frame is lower cost. In my opinion also frame is not as good a product as the ICF. Only you can get accurate pricing from your local quotes and you can review your market acceptance of ICF. You come here asking for pricing to determine if ICF is good for your personal home and future spec building. I don't know know if you can sell the features and benifits is your area to justify the added cost. It's called market research, we can't do that for you. Would you really build you biz model on costs you read on the internet from locations very diff than your area?

Patrick T

splinter032User is Offline
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01 Aug 2007 05:59 PM
I have been building with ICF for nearly 10 years, but also build stick, I would build 100% with ICF if I had the demand but have built around 15 projects with ICF. Personaly for me and my crew the actual cost difference is sometimes cheaper with ICF depending on several factors, like style and exterior. For south/west style home with EIFS I find the overall cost less due to reduced time to finish the walls as I am the EFIS installer also. The last two projects that I did, one was ICF one was stick built, simular in interior finishes both homes came in within $4.00 per square foot of each other.
robinncUser is Offline
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03 Aug 2007 12:22 AM
splinter.....what part of the country are you in? At 4 bucks a sf would be well worth it! Could you give me a ballpark what you're paying for framing(under roof sf), HVAC, plumbing(per fixture), Elect (sf)?.......This is how the subs here charge or if they charge dif. where you are.
icfblocksUser is Offline
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03 Aug 2007 05:30 PM
A simple basement at $4.00 a sq. ft. labor only, would be do-able close to home!
Thanks,
Tom
www.advbuildingtech.com
James EggertUser is Offline
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03 Aug 2007 07:57 PM
Tom
Please elaborate more on what you would include for $4 a square foot. Necessary items such as bracing, tools, foam, etc all has to be included somewhere??
Take Care
Jim

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"Not So Big" Design Proponent
icfblocksUser is Offline
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03 Aug 2007 08:24 PM
I would include all the tools necessary but add a brace charge.  The slab or footers need to be straight, level.  Spray Foam may or may not be included depending on the form used and other conditions present on the job.  I try not to use any if possible.  All the necessary wood or other buck material and fasteners would not be included.  Basically, labor only within driving distance of my home. 
I am currently starting on a 2 story house with about 750 l.f. of 10 ft walls and 38 corners with too many windows and doors to count.  This start will not be $4.00 per square foot. 
Thanks,
Tom
www.advbuildingtech.com
irnivekUser is Offline
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04 Aug 2007 12:00 AM
As ICF "sub cobcontractors" Four bucks labor is too high for us. Can't remember ever charging $4 for a home or commercial job, although we've done a couple disiorganized monsters T&M that probably worked out that high.... I think we'd make way too much money and pay too much tax at $4 hahaha.
Simple basement within driving distance can easily be done for as low as $2 a sq. ft. Labor, bracing. Add for Waterproofing and especially brickledge.
Henry Ford taught us how. Most jobs aren't "custom," just need proper mobilization and planning. and good weather. and help that shows up on time. and so on. Turn the process into a production line, and spend less weekends in the home shows, great installs breed more of the same. We need to take away the naysayers old excuses "those foam walls are curvy, expensive, take too long"
We recently purchased a trackoe to control the schedule, and quality of backfill/waterproofing, during our recent relocation to N. Wyoming. This has been a big hit for both contractors and homeowners, as they are generally either fearfull of a new process or lazy and would rather pay more and coordinate less subs -we threaten to make their job much easier.

Don't worry Jim, I 've heard you re not one of the lazy ones... But retiring already, selling your gear?

Anyone needs install work in S. IndianaN.Kentucky please contact me.

Kevin
robinncUser is Offline
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05 Aug 2007 12:07 AM
irnivek......are you being serious at 2 bucks a sf ?.........
ChillmeisterUser is Offline
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05 Aug 2007 12:52 PM
Hi Robin. I think the cost of building new ICF homes have to do with the contractors over inflating the cost themselves. I can put up an ICF shell in about the same time as a block shell. I've worked for three major ICF contractors and only one really  knew about the product and all three were never managed the site until I got the Trusses on or in one case the insuldeck on. Contractors seem to have the motto of they take pride in what they hide. They seem to be only interested in the bottom line, how much MORE money can they make off ICF.  With that said and after supervising building 20+ homes and a few commercial sites my estimate is it shouldn't cost more than 10% over the cost of a stick home. I love ICF and think anyone who doesn't build out of it will pay more in the long run. You'll be doing away with one Whole trade for the most part(insulation) plus tax breaks and insurance breaks if you live near the coast. if you want you can e-mail me at chillmeister 1469@yahoo and  can send you some more tips.
James EggertUser is Offline
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05 Aug 2007 05:31 PM
Kevin
Just a shift in priorities, I'm not parting with everything!

But this is one of my setups so someone could step right into a site with a good trailer full of goodies to get them thru a project. Who knows, I may include myself for a day or two :-)
Take Care
Jim

Design/Build/Consulting
"Not So Big" Design Proponent
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