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Do Building Codes Require ICF Installers To Be Certified? The Answer is NO and Here’s Why.

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Hello, builders, contractors and building officials!

In some municipalities there is some question as to if an ICF installer requires a certification (sometimes referred to as a Wallet Card). Well, here’s some good news: according to the key standards for ICFs like ASTM E2634, CAN-ULC 717.1, and even the national building codes, there’s no requirement for ICF installers to be certified.

That’s right – whether you’re working under the guidelines of the IBC for commercial buildings or the NBC and IRC for residential projects, having a certificate in your pocket isn’t required. Let’s explore why this is the case and what it means for your day-to-day work.

The Lowdown on ICF Standards and Building Codes

First things first, the formal regulations – the prevailing standards that govern ICF construction, and the engineering specs derived under PCA 100, don’t require or even reference certified ICF installers. Even in situations where the IBC calls for special inspections, it’s not exclusive to ICF projects, and these inspections can be carried out by anyone deemed competent, formally trained in ICF installation or not.

Builders install ProBuck into an Logix ICF wall.
Builders install ProBuck into an Logix ICF wall.

Why the Lack of Certification Requirement Makes Sense

1.  Keeping Costs in Check

Mandatory certifications can drive up expenses and limit the pool of available skilled labor. For smaller contractors or independent builders, the cost of certification could be a barrier, reducing their ability to take on ICF installation projects.

2.  Valuing Hands-On Experience

In the construction world, practical experience often carries more weight than formal certification. Many seasoned builders have honed their skills on the job, developing effective techniques for ICF installations.

3.  Accounting for Regional Variations

Construction practices can vary widely from one region to another. A universal certification might not address these local nuances, making it less practical in certain contexts.

4.  Encouraging DIY Projects

For DIY enthusiasts and self-builders, compulsory certification could be seen as an undue obstacle. Many individuals prefer tackling their own construction projects, and mandatory certification could dampen this spirit of self-reliance.

5.  Streamlining the Construction Process

Introducing another layer of mandatory certification could potentially complicate the construction process, leading to delays and increased project costs.

6.  Trusting the Market to Regulate Itself

In many cases, the construction market is self-regulating. Subpar workmanship or inadequate installation methods are often corrected through market dynamics such as customer feedback and competitive quality standards.

The Evolution from Past to Present

Many, many years ago, particularly in Canada, there was a requirement for “factory trained” installers in the initial CCMC evaluations provided to some ICF systems. Some companies provided a wallet card or even a jacket to those installers who received some training. However, with the incorporation of ICFs directly into the national building codes, those CCMC approvals are no longer required for ICFs and this requirement has become obsolete.

An in-person Logix ICF training session
An in-person Logix ICF training session

Comprehensive ICF Training: Widely Available but Not Mandatory

While Logix Brands offers comprehensive ICF installation training – complete with installation guides, videos, and face-to-face and online courses – these don’t amount to a formal certification. We do provide an e-certificate for course completion, but these are acknowledgments of having received training and education rather than any kind of official qualifications.

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In Conclusion

Unlike the Red Seal Program for construction trades , there is no governing body in the ICF industry that monitors and/or assumes responsibility for assurances regarding the ongoing skill development or competency of any worker and there is no requirement for such accreditation in connection to ICF installation by any building code in either Canada nor the USA. Furthermore, no ICF manufacturer will accept the responsibility of assuring any worker’s skills or workmanship. As such, the term ICF “certified” installer is truly a misnomer. Therefore, building officials must be aware that code compliance is entirely the responsibility of the authority having jurisdiction in cooperation with the installer.

As for ICF installers, when it comes to ICF installation, it’s all about what you know and how well you do the job. Training is always beneficial and is readily available, but at the end of the day, your practical skills and the quality of your work are what truly matter. So, stay informed, keep honing your skills, and let your craftsmanship do the talking.

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