An ICF stands for "Insulated Concrete Form". If you think of a large lego blog, made out of styrofoam that is 8" x 18". The styrofoam is on the outside of the lego block, and you can stack them one on top of the other. You can make corners or build whatever you want. There is space between the styrofoam where you can pour concrete when they are stacked up. You can build foundations with these, or even whole houses. This is common in areas where there are hurricanes, termites and carpenter ants.
There are many advantages to using ICFs. Being styrofoam, they are very light so they are easy to transport them to areas where it is hard to bring trucks. Additionally, they are very energy efficient, as well as labor efficient because they are easily stacked.
They have been around for a long time. In other parts of the country, they are used very commonly. Here in New England, they are not used very often. One time the customer was pleased with them, and another the customers was not too impressed. The last case is a situation we are looking into right now.
This ICF home has a water leak. We have to take down from the inside the styrofoam that is facing us. This is a lot of work to take down. Another problem with ICFs is that normally you vibrate concrete in order to get the air out of it. With air pockets, you will have water leaks in the foundation. With ICFs, because they are styrofoam, it is very hard to vibrate the concrete.
From the limited experience experience we have, I would not recommend ICFs to a friend. Old School New England, we should stick to traditional techniques to avoid honeycomb, voids in the concrete, or cracks.
For more information on basement crack repair, contact A1 Foundation Crack Repair.