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10 reasons ICF makes sense for self-builders

Chris Bates reveals how insulating concrete formwork can offer a straightforward route to self-building an energy-efficient, design-led bespoke home
Built using Beco Wallform’s structural system, this contemporary scheme features a cantilevered, copper-clad upper storey. Left: A basement build by ICF Supplies, using Nudura blocks, prior to the concrete pour

Simplicity and continuity are two key ingredients if you want a straightforward project. So given that just about every self-build starts with a concrete foundation, wouldn’t it make sense to use it for the rest of a scheme? That’s where ICF, or insulating concrete formwork, comes in.

What is ICF?

The way this system is put together means it’s often referred to as LEGO for grown-ups. Fundamentally, it consists of modular, lightweight hollow blocks, which are usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS). These interlocking forms are dry-stacked on site and reinforced with steel rebar, before concrete is poured into the cavity.

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About Build It

Get the advice and inspiration you need to complete your home building project on time and on budget with the March edition of Build It, including: - How to get more for your money - Is gas central heating energy efficient? - Getting sunroom extensions right - Ultimate guide to garage conversions - Do you need an architect? ... and more!