One of the most important decisions for a homebuilder is what type of basement to install. Should it be a concrete block, poured cement, or insulated concrete form basement. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of basement construction. Determining your current need with the right type of basement construction is critical to the success of your building project.
Concrete Block basements were very popular many years ago. In-fact, most basements built before 1980 used the concrete block type of construction. These basements consist of concrete blocks stacked on top of each other and sealed together with a concrete bonding material. Sometimes these blocks are hollow and sometimes they are solid concrete.
Benefits of the Concrete Block basement compared to other basements on the market are small. In-fact, one of the only benefits of a block basement is the price. The price is considerably low to construct a block basement over poured wall basements or insulated concrete form basements. This is for a couple of reasons. It is not as difficult to install concrete block basements as it is to pour concrete walls. Also, it takes considerably less time to stack blocks than to pour walls. This means a lower bill for the customer.
There are drawbacks of the concrete block basement. If the basement uses hollow blocks, the foundation can hold about 5 times less building weight than if solid poured basements are used. Also, since there are many more seams in a concrete block basement than a poured basement, water leaking is common. You must take waterproofing measures if you use a concrete block construction.
ICF (Insulated Concrete Form)
Insulated Concrete Form basements are another type of basement construction. Since they are fairly new to the market, some contractors do not provide this type of product. Simply, ICF basements are formed by fitting hollow foam pieces together to make basement walls. Then concrete is poured into the foam forms to make them solid.
The benefits of Insulated Concrete form basements are quite numerous. They reduce energy costs because the entire basement foundation is insulated with thick foam on the inside and out. This makes a more comfortable, dry basement. Also, finishing a basement is quite easy with insulated concrete forms. You simply screw drywall directly to the foam forms. There is no need to install studs.
There are a couple drawbacks of insulated concrete form basements. They are the most expensive type of basement you can construct. Although they are not grossly higher than poured concrete foundations, they are more expensive none-the-less. Also, it may be difficult to find a knowledgeable contractor in your area. Since this type of basement is fairly new, some contractors have never heard of it. Finding a skilled contractor to install insulated concrete form basements is key to the success of a building project.
Poured Concrete basements are perhaps the most common type today. They are made by installing temporary forms, pouring concrete, allowing the concrete to dry, then removing the forms. Many houses constructed today use the poured concrete basement because it is a happy medium between block and ICF.
There are a few benefits of poured concrete basements. They are extremely strong. They can hold up to 5 times more weight than block basements. Also, the price is right. Even though they are more expensive then block basements, they are less expensive than insulated concrete form basements. Like I said earlier, it’s a happy medium.
The only drawbacks of poured concrete basements are drawbacks compared to insulated concrete form basements. Poured concrete basements do need to be waterproofed while ICF basements do not. Also, when finishing a poured concrete basement it is necessary to install your own outer wall studs, whereas you do not with ICF basements. Yes, there are drawbacks, but some people accept the drawbacks for a lower price.
Whatever basement construction you decide for your house, make sure it fits your needs. If you need a house to be extra energy efficient, look into ICF. If you need a purely utilitarian basement, look into cement block basements. If you need a quality basement for less cost, look into poured concrete. The benefits and drawbacks of each type of basement construction are numerous and should be carefully weighed.