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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/28/2009

Very exciting today, as the crew began to install the LiteDeck. After getting to the site a bit behind schedule (hey, it's hard to start up again after a nice holiday!) they walked through the procedure with Builder Dale and got to it.

I didn't know this, but it turns out that not everybody actually builds with this product, mostly for cost reasons. This is a great way to go since it adds a huge amount of insulation, strength, and noise reduction to the house, but it's also pretty much the more expensive option. While we were crunching through the budget just prior to beginning this adventure, I was given the option of going with a more conventional truss-and-plywood flooring system, and while it was indeed tempting to save those monies I decided to go with the LiteDeck. Every house I've ever lived in that was multi-story used “conventional” flooring and trust me—no matter what you do a conventional truss system will eventually develop squeaky spots, you'' be able to hear TVs and stuff through the floor, every small thumping noise sounds like something huge fell over, etc. That was an unpalatable prospect to be sure.

There's also the security issue to consider. Tanglewood is in the middle of a nice, deep pine forest and is surrounded by tall (50 to 60 foot) pine trees. Should one of those trees fall over onto the house, I didn't want the house to be suddenly unlivable. At least now we'll have the option of shutting off heat to the section with the tree in it and retreating to the lower, all-concrete level.

So back to the build. This particular crew wasn't too familiar with building with LiteDeck (I think they might have done one other application, not quite as large, if I remember correctly) so Builder Dale spent some time this morning walking through how the product worked, how to install the rebar in the LiteDeck channels, how the top hats fit onto each section, etc. Normally, most crews attach the top hats to the main panels with the same foam they use on the ICF, but because we're building in winter, foam isn't a good option; so we're going with a wire nail-like thing instead. My understanding is that while there are a plethora of specially-made mechanical attachment options available (LiteDeck themselves make a neat corkscrew-style thing) most of these are relatively expensive compared to what they do.

So after the walkthrough, they got started laying in the LiteDeck, and it's amazing what a difference that has made already to the sections it's in! So far the forms are fitting in exactly right—a nice, tight fit that's just perfect and shows that they got the walls nice and straight. While things moved slowly initially, the crew was starting to get more confident with the product towards the end of the day. They have to be a bit careful right now, because they don't have all of the underfloor bracing in place yet, so while you can walk on the forms you don't want to stomp on them or anything, and I would imagine that it's not the most secure-feeling thing right now anyway. Fortunately, they can do most of what they need from below and that's what they've focused on so far.

Looking down the week we hope to have the LiteDeck done by Thursday/Friday, though there's a little thing called New Years that might slow that down a notch. Builder Dale is still calling in bracing for the decking, and we'll need that in place (at $100/day, ouch!) before Colleen and I can start laying in the radiant heat tubing. I've still got a bit of work to do yet to finalize the radiant-tubing layout (it's amazing how many utterly different and utterly authoritative opinions there are about this out on the Intertubes!) yet as well. The tubing might well become a weekend project (weather permitting).

Seems like there are more chores more often now, and that's to be expected, I guess. Never enough time in the day and the days are damnably short right now to boot. Still, progress is excellent, and we're having fun and it's all so danged exciting!

Steven in Colorado Springs


The interior of the house has been (relatively) cleared out in anticipation of the LiteDeck work.
Lots of bracing and stuff here in the living room.
Let the install begin! The crew began over the garages and worked out from there.
The forms are a bit unwieldy.
Another shot of the install of the first section.
Setting up some basic bracing under the LiteDeck. This will serve until the crew installs the heavier stuff--can't walk on it until then.
A shot of the install from the hill above the house.

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