True Cost of ICFs in Ghana

Published: 16th April 2009
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Even though ICF construction requires the use of high quality material, overall ICF construction cost in Ghana is comparable to the cost of ICF construction in the United States.

The Unites States primarily build homes with wood products. The US has experienced that building the same building with ICFs involves only a 4 - 7% increase in cost over the cost of wood framing. This initial increase in construction cost is easily recuperated through lower annual building operational costs.

The heating and cooling equipment in an ICF home can be smaller than such equipment in the same sized wood framed home. According to the Portland Cement Association, the smaller mechanical equipment can equate to "at least 1% in up-front savings." With this in mind, ICF construction involves only a 3 - 6% increase in construction costs over wood framing.

In Ghana, there is no need for heating equipment. Ghanaians should actually experience an even lower cost due to the need for only air conditioning equipment.

According to the Portland Cement Association, ICF homeowners experience a "savings of at least 25% or more depending on the climate." This means that the monthly energy use and electrical expenses are lower for owners of ICF homes or buildings. In the USA, homeowners have experienced "30 - 40% off the energy used to heat and cool a house."

In the US, masonry walls (such as concrete block) cost between $10.50 and $13.00 per square foot. ICF masonry walls cost between $11.70 and $14.50 per square foot and fluctuates with the market price of concrete.

Two other issues that may affect the cost of ICF construction in Ghana are shipping building materials labor costs. The cost of ICF construction in Ghana would normally be more than the cost in the United States due the expense of shipping the ICF blocks to Ghana. However, this cost is offset by the drastically lower cost of Ghanaian labor. The time to construction ICF buildings are also 20% - 50% quicker than traditional construction. Because of the lower cost of labor in Ghana, Ghanaians may experience lower ICF construction costs than in the United States.

According to the Portland Cement Association, "ICF wall-building crews report that their costs drop sharply until they have built 4 or 5 houses. After that they continue to realize savings." In Ghana, these cost savings will be most realized in construction settings where the entire building envelope is built from start to finish. (A building envelope includes the foundation, floors, walls, windows, doors, and the roof.) Insulating concrete form (ICF) construction times are significantly quicker than masonry block construction. Because of this, Ghana builders will experience a greater profit margin when switching to ICF construction while still building a quality building.

One possible set back is the cost for Ghana builders to stock up on the bracing required for ICFs. However, the alignment system is simply the equipment necessary for quality construction, much like the need for concrete mixers. An additional issue is the need for construction workers to be trained in the methods of ICF construction. The skills used for masonry construction are easily transferrable to ICF construction. Laborers can find their expertise in as little as three projects. With the aid of training seminars such as the GHANA ICF Conference and Ghanaian ICF builders such as Elegant Homes, Ghana's transition to ICFs should go very smoothly.


Lakisha David is a construction manager for Light Ready Construction, LLC, specializing in ICFs. Want to know more about building with ICFs in Ghana? To find additional resources, including videos, go to . Comments or questions can also be directed to

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