Can you build your own ICF foundation?

Building an ICF foundation is a great choice for homes where cost and energy efficiency are important factors. ICF is a wonderful material for foundations, as well as exterior walls, floors and more. For those who have wondered about the ease of installing an ICF foundation, we address whether it’s a project that an inexperienced builder or a homeowner could tackle without the help of a trained professional…

Installing ICF foundation

Installing ICF foundation is a complex process. In order for it to provide the strength and protection it offers, it has to be properly installed. There are two main components of the installation:

1. ICF form bracing

The ICF blocks have to be stacked before the concrete can be poured into them. That means that they have to be stacked or laid out. Once they are in place, there are bracing techniques to hold them where they need to be. If there are not properly braced, they can slip out of alignment, creating places where you won’t have full protection.  

2. Concrete pouring

Once all the blocks are in place, braced and checked over, it is time to pour the concrete. Pouring concrete is a physically demanding task on its own. On top of that, though, you also have to make sure that the bracing holds, keeping the ICF blocks in place. Pouring concrete for an ICF foundation takes more than one person to complete.

Ultimately, ICF foundation is not a DIY job

There are a number of reasons why ICF foundation installation is not a do-it-yourself project…

1. The risk to your home

The foundation of your home is important. If it is not properly installed, you could have significant structural issues now, or down the road. If you do have such issues, you could need costly renovations. We would suggest keeping DIY projects to low-risk jobs where, if you run into issues, you can quickly and easily resolve them without high cost.

2. The risk to you

If you are not properly trained, it is easy to injure yourself when installing any kind of foundation. Pouring concrete alone carries risks to your physical wellbeing, such as hurting your back or your joints, as well as more serious health risks. You don’t want your home build to end with you or your loved ones in hospital.

Your best option is always to work with an experienced builder who specializes in ICF construction.

How to find a builder with experience with ICF foundation

1. Check certifications

ICF foundations are not the same build process as traditional construction. Given this, you want to make sure that you are working with a company with ICF experience. How do you do that? Start by checking credentials. You want to ensure that the company – and the builders who will be handling your ICF foundation – have completed a number ICF foundations in the past.

2. Get references

One of the best ways to predict a company’s future work is its past work. Check past work by getting and checking companies’ references. As always, remember that references tend to be the happiest clients with the projects that have gone the best, so assume some level of bias.

To get the answers you need, ask specific questions. For example, you may want to cover if the build came in on budget and if the company followed their timeline.

3. Make use of social media

The internet can be a wonderful thing. In addition to getting references from companies, you can now send out a Tweet or make a Facebook or Instagram post, asking if anyone has experience with the company you are looking at. Getting some reviews this way will allow you to see the company outside the bias of references.

4. Ask to visit project sites

You want to know how the contractors you are looking at work. Are they neat? Are they courteous? What is the quality of their work onsite? In order to find this out, ask to visit project sites. If a company doesn’t want you onsite, that could be a red flag, so be sure to dig into why that would be the case.

Most companies, however, will allow you to do a site visit. While there, ask any questions you have – both of the company and of the employees. This should give you a good sense of what your build site with be like.

Are you ready for your ICF foundation? Want to cut through the search for a contractor? Save yourself the headache of the hunt… Modern Valley is here to help your build from start to finish!


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