Foundations First

D.J. Ketelhut
Quad-Lock North America Sales Director

This may come as a surprise as we discuss insulating basements in the middle of summer.  But really, this is more of a wake-up call for conserving energy and building the right way.  It has been proven that approximately 25%-30% of a home’s heat loss can be attributed to an uninsulated foundation.  And while some of you reading this are from warmer climates and others may not have foundations, the same benefits would apply to slab on grade or above grade construction.  My whole point is to start with the basics and at a minimum insulate your basement foundation.  “Can Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) be used above grade?” Absolutely, but let’s start with the foundation first!

Historically, the basement has been relegated to storage, laundry room, and some other non-appealing space.  Basements have a bad reputation for being cold, damp, and dark.  This does not have to be the case as ICF technology can transform the basement into warm, dry, comfortable living space.  Can you say theater room, exercise room, office, even playrooms for that matter?  Transform your new home and your basement by insulating your basement foundation!

Many building codes are now requiring insulating the foundation and it is mainly based on Heating Degree Days (HDD) zones.  If you live in a very warm climate, then you may not be required to insulate your foundation, but many jurisdictions require R-10 to R-20 and more in some cases. The conventional methods contractors use are to place rigid insulation on the outside of the foundation walls and/or add framing to the interior (rot-and-mildew prone) and insert batt insulation (often poorly installed and sagging). Why not combine all these seperate steps into one and start using ICF’s in the first place?

What about the cost to build the foundation out of Insulated Concrete Forms? While there are many variables, the total cost is often similar or less for an ICF foundation compared to a fully finished conventional foundation! You also get a better basement:

  • Higher Energy Savings due to uninterrupted insulation of R-22+
  • Lower risks of rot, mold and mildew
  • More comfortable space
  • One contractor instead of 2 or 3

Some of you may be thinking, “I wish I would have done it right the first time and used ICF’s to insulate my basement, but it’s too late, my home is built.”  There is good news, Quad-Lock being the innovator in the insulation marketplace has created a retrofit insulation system called R-ETRO (  This is a systems approach to finish the interior of your foundation or basement.  It comes in three R-Values of R-10, R-18, and R-26 and gives you similar benefits as building your foundation with ICF’s.

The Quad-Lock team can help you create your desired basement living space by building the foundation first out of Insulating Concrete Forms.  Create that warm, dry, and desirable space you have always wanted.  Whether you are building new or renovating your home, Quad-Lock is always here to help.

The Value of Basement Insulation in Cold Climates

Kevin Spaulding walks you through why adding basement insulation in colder climates is one of the most cost effective improvements you can make to your home.

Kevin has been successfully selling the R-ETRO System since its release earlier this year and will tell you that even adding a modest layer of insulation to basement walls will result in an incredible reduction in heat lost through un-insulated concrete walls. With the R-ETRO System adding R-18 to existing wall surfaces, the results are felt immediately, both in less fuel used and in more heat within the home.

Read The Value of Basement Insulation in Cold Climates.

ICF Basements Have Lowest Life-Cycle Energy Costs

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation commissioned a study to update their economic assessment of residential basement insulation options to more accurately reflect the rising costs of basement construction and space-heating energy. They concluded that:

For all types and sizes of basements assessed in this study, the lowest life-cycle energy cost was associated with basements constructed using insulating concrete forms (ICFs). Click here to read the report highlights.

A Full Basement Ready to Pour in a Day! Are you kidding?

The experienced crew on this Quad-Lock ICF project finished the formwork for a full basement and garage in one day. The concrete was successfully poured the next morning in a few hours. The metal track was attached to the footing the previous day in a few hours. Though barely visible in this time-lapse, corner brackets and rebar were installed.

Note that inexperienced crews will take longer for the first few projects but usually achieve ‘experienced’ speed after just two projects.

Special Thanks to Northern Shores Enterprises (Quad-Lock Distributor in Michigan) for their contribution!

A Better Way to Build Basements

A plumb, straight, square, and level (PSSL) foundation is key to any building project and is particularly important when you’re going to place a modular home on top. Quad-Lock Insulating Concrete Forming (ICFs) system makes PSSL a snap to achieve.

Mike Hanes of Northern Shores Enterprises is a modular home distributor and Quad-Lock Dealer. He began installing Quad-Lock six years ago. He pours a Quad-Lock ICF basement under every modular home he erects. “With modular homes, we needed to find a way of doing basements that was quick, provided quality, and was cost effective. The nature of modular homes mandates that we have perfect corners, the whole idea of building ICF basements is to build a foundation that’s a perfect 90 degrees or as close to it as possible. We can achieve that with Quad-Lock.”

From our business perspective, Quad-Lock makes sense, too. “Quad-Lock doesn’t take a lot of room to inventory and doesn’t require any heavy equipment to load and unload, which are important considerations for us” states Mike Hanes.

“Both the Company and its products do what they say they will do!” What really impressed me about Quad-Lock is the:

  • quality of product
  • nice, clean 90 degree corners
  • high density foam
  • angle brackets securing any degree of angle
  • ease of assembly

“Once we got past the learning curve of building with this product, which literally took three projects, our basements were quicker and straighter than we could achieve with traditional forming techniques”, says Mike. “An average basement of about 1800 square feet, 8’ tall with 10 corners takes a crew of 3 men 1 full day to stack. Add another two hours to pour concrete and we’re done and able to move on to our next project. It’s that quick!” Time saved equals money saved.

“Quad-Lock basements actually sell before the modular home sells… that’s how impressed homebuyers are with Quad-Lock.” It’s not just homebuyers; most all trades who have worked with Mike finishing a Quad-Lock basement have come back to him to purchase their own Quad-Lock basement.

Known as the “ICF guy” in town, Mike continually speaks to anyone who will listen about Quad-Lock and its advantages in constructing a new home. “There’s no big trick to building with Quad-Lock, you just need to take the training and understand basic construction principles.“ He gives example after example of people either choosing or switching to Quad-Lock after they’ve seen a demo. He also tells potential home builders and contractors about the benefits of using Quad-Lock for the entire construction project, not just the foundation. Many had only considered it for their basement but after speaking with him, they’ve had their architects redraw the plans for use with Quad-Lock. “Everyone we have demonstrated Quad-Lock to, has used it. They’re excited about what Quad-Lock will do for them.”

“I enjoy selling Quad-Lock because it sells itself. The key is to know what you’re talking about.” Quad-Lock has become second nature to Mike and his wife and business partner Robin, who display a Quad-Lock corner in their office. Everyone who walks in asks questions that Mike and Robin are ready and able to answer. “How can I convince people to build with Quad-Lock unless I’m talking from experience?” Last year the Hanes’ built a 2400sqft shed and this year they’ve completed their own 5800sqft home, both built to the roof with Quad-Lock.

Another big selling feature for Quad-Lock is energy savings. Oil costs in Michigan are increasing an average of 25%; people are looking for ways to save money to heat their homes. Quad-Lock offers that and so much more. Mike follows-up with clients to see how they enjoy their home. They continually talk about how energy efficient their home is, in particular their basement. He has been monitoring two very similar homes in the same neighborhood — one home has a Quad-Lock basement, the other has a conventional basement. To heat the home with the conventional basement it takes triple the amount of fuel in comparison to the home with the ICF basement.

Mike’s also been keeping close tabs on his energy costs. He wants to show just how much you can save by building with Quad-Lock. Last year, he spent $420 to heat the shed…that’s $35/month for a completely insulated workspace, even in the chilly winter days of Michigan! Mike expects to pay only $68/month throughout the winter to heat his home. He’s already noticed that the fuel tank is only at 50% of what it was last year for his conventionally built home.

Mike uses an analogy to demonstrate the heat loss concept that literally leaves people speechless. “You can grow flowers under the eaves of your home all year long with a non-insulated basement. The heat loss will seep at least two feet from the wall. Because there is no heat loss with Quad-Lock ICF, flowers can’t grow in the wintertime”.