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Insulated Concrete Forms Industry Survey Results – ICFs Reduce Skilled Labor Needs By Up To 50%

Is your construction company facing a lack of skilled labor?

If so, you’re not alone. Indeed, there is a broader skilled labor shortage across Canada, and it extends toward the construction industry as well. This comes directly from findings from the 2019 Contractor Survey, the results of which have since been covered by various news outlets, including the CBC.

As well, in the USA, the NAHB has also recently reported that builders have said the labor shortage is their top challenge in 2019.

There are a lot of proposed reasons for this shortage, including the fact that baby boomers are retiring and moving out of the industry. There is also a high demand in the industry.

But nevertheless, results from the aforementioned survey indicates that the shortage is slowing company growth, with 79% of respondents indicating that they have directly experienced this. Furthermore, nearly 60% of respondents said that the shortage led to significant increases in project costs and delays.

While this data is alarming for any general contractor, the good news is that there’s a solution. This blog post will show you how insulated concrete forms (ICFs) can help your skilled labor shortage.

How ICFs Can Help Solve Your Skilled Labor Problem

There are two ways in which ICFs can help solve your skilled labor shortage. Allow us to break it down:

  • ICFs Require Less Labor in General (Smaller Crews)

First and foremost, building with ICFs require smaller crews.

To speak to this point, we will use Harvey Schellenberg of HP Builders Inc. in Winnipeg as an example.

Interestingly enough, he actually build two identical buildings beside each other: one made out of ICFs and one made out of wood. You can read more about this project here, but the results can be seen below:

Wood-Frame Build

ICF Build

Crew Size



Total Labor Hours



As you can see, the ICF build required half the crew size and two thirds the total amount of labor hours.

Here is Harvey discussing why he builds with ICFs:

  • ICFs Require A Lower Percentage of Skilled Labor

Secondly, ICF construction doesn’t require nearly as much skilled labor as traditional wood-frame construction.

There are a couple of reasons for this; first, it’s a much simpler installation process. Logix ICF, for instance, achieves six construction steps in one, which results in much less labor.

ICF construction also requires less tools as well.

The results from our recent survey illustrate this. The survey included a population sample of local installers, architects, designers and engineers with ICF experience (which were located via the Logix Pro-Link online directory).

Here are the results:

Single Family Dwelling* Mid-Rise Buildings*
(5 Stories)
Commercial Buildings**
(30′ Tall Walls)
Skilled Labor Component  -20% -29% -54%
Total Crew Size -15% -25% -43%

*versus wood-frame
**versus CMU

Want more information? Contact us now.

To illustrate this point even further, we went to the city of Winnipeg to speak to participants in the survey, including installer Sean Murphy of Hollyhock Construction Ltd. who talks to us from a residential perspective. As you can see, the % of skilled labor decreased by 20% when constructing single family homes, 29% for mid-rise construction and over 50% for commercial construction. The decreases in total crew sizes were 15%, 25% and 43% respectively.

First, a bit about Hollyhock Construction Ltd.:

Sean says, “We are a family business with two active generations. We started in the residential renovation business 12 years ago where we repaired many failures of moisture and insulation in basements. We transitioned to new construction in infill setting in Winnipeg. The city has a large end-of-life housing stock. Energy affordability is a great concern for home buyers and ICF offers this advantage.”

Interviewer: When building a typical 40’ x 50’ slab-on-grade shell with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), how many skilled/lead hands would you ideally have in your crew and how many general laborers would you ideally have?

Sean: “I would have one skilled worker and two laborers.”

Interviewer: When framing the exterior walls of a typical 40’ x 50’ home with lumber, how many journeyman carpenters would you ideally have in your crew and how many general laborers would you ideally have?

Sean: “Two red seals and one laborer.”

Interviewer: When forming a 40’ x 50’ residential basement with a conventional concrete forming system, how many skilled/lead hands would you ideally have in your crew, and how many general laborers would you ideally have?

Sean: “I would have an equal mix of both (two skilled and two labor).

Interviewer: From your perspective, what is it about ICFs that require less skilled labor?

“Typically our crew is made up of one journeyman carpenter and one apprentice assisted with one labor. With this crew size we can tackle most residential projects with ease.

Traditional forming crews require specialized workers due to the difficulty of work with form setup and removal and also see much greater turnover due to the hard daily working conditions.”

Interviewer: What are your thoughts on Logix Brands?

Sean: “We decided to use Logix as our ICF supplier because any problem we throw at them they are there with an answer and have awesome technical support. The blocks are easily assembled and straightforward. We also like to support local manufacturers and appreciate they are made here in Winnipeg.” (Editor’s Note: Logix ICFs are manufactured in seven regional plants strategically located throughout the USA and Canada)

Wrapping It Up

General contractors are facing a shortage of skilled labor, the result of which is slowing potential growth while leading to greater project costs and more delays: none of which are good for business.

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs), however, offer a solution. Requiring smaller crews and less skilled labor, general contractors are much better equipped to navigate the skilled labor shortage.

Request a quote, get more information, or talk to a Logix Advisor by contacting us today.

By |2019-11-12T19:26:07-05:00July 15th, 2019|

About the Author:

President, Logix Brands Ltd.
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