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ICF Plan Conversion

What are ICFs?

Insulated Concrete Forms are foam block systems (typically EPS) that when installed create a sandwich of foam and concrete.  Standard ICFs have a layer of 2"-3" of foam on either side of a concrete core that is typically 4-6", some have even larger "concrete cores" available.  This system creates the most energy efficient, structurally stable and sound resistant system on the market today.  Other products may advertise a few of the qualities that ICFs offer, but none of those products have everything in one package that has been rigorously tested for many years and is approved by nearly all building, energy, green building, and fire codes.

A few years ago we had a potential client that discussed a new 3,500 square foot custom home with us and he wanted to use ICF.  We explained the pros and cons and showed him different types of block systems.  He chose a system he liked and we started the design.  The design was very unique and it was for a lot that had some hillside challenges.  When it was time, we recommended that he use an engineer that we have worked with many times on ICF projects.  However, they had an engineer that was an acquaintance and wanted to use him instead – we explained the challenges but in the end, we followed the adage "the customer is always right" and proceeded with their engineer.  The plans and engineering were completed and the project went out for final bid & when the bids came in the project was over budget by nearly $75,000.  The client was upset and wanted to kill the project.  I persuaded him to give me a week to find out what the issue was.


I met with the general contractor and he stated that the majority of the overage was in the concrete and rebar per the engineering specifications.  Upon learning this, I immediately had the original engineer I recommended review the plans.  He came back with a solution – he would re-engineer the plans and if he didn’t shave at least $25,000 off the budget he wouldn’t charge for his services.  The client agreed.  The plans were engineered again then re-bid.  The design of the home didn’t change and when the new bids came in, the reduction for the labor, concrete, and steel was nearly $70,000.  The owner further helped the budget by selecting less expensive finishes, cabinetry, plumbing, and electrical fixtures – this added another $30,000 in reduced costs totaling $100,000 reduction from the original bid.


This proves how important having the right team is integral to any project.  While a few dollars may be saved early on, it could result in thousands in unnecessary fees later on.  

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