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Posted to ICF-Construction by Frank in Elkridge, MD on 11/11/2011

Well, after six months which included the sale of the house and move to an apartment, and a complete change of our plans from a two-story to a rancher and MANY other changes, we finally have plans we can submit to the county for a permit. Best of all, we can start talking to subs to put our package together for the bank. At this time our plans are to break ground in the spring as soon as the weather breaks. This will give us five solid months to put our project in gear.

Now we need to find an electrician, HVAC and fire safety water sprinkler sub, and submit the plans to the county.

Here is something off topic regarding basement slab insulation. Our designer would not include foam insulation for our basement slab in the plans because he feels it's not structurally sound. His argument is that if you pour the basement slab on top of 2" foam from wall to wall, the slab will most likely crack because we would be pouring a floating slab on top of the insulation. I was under the impression the welded wire fabric steel would hold the slab together, but he said that even with the wire, the slab would crack. He's okay with the foam insulation to be leveled to the footers, but even so, he feels the workers will crack the foam as they pour the basement slab, which will negate any insulation factor.

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Posted to ICF-Construction by Frank in Elkridge, MD on 5/2/2011

Here is a question for electricians. I'm testing time switches and occupancy sensors in my current home to be used in the O-B home and I ran into a problem. My old house includes three terminal aluminum wires, black, white and ground. I purchased four occupancy sensors (Decora Cat. No. ODs10-IDx), two for the basement and one for each bathroom. They work great for the basement unless you forget to turn on the sensor and you find yourself in the dark after 20 minutes. I've heard plenty of "FRANK TURN ON YOUR CRAZY SWITCH" with other choice words. They also work in bathrooms unless it's a small bathroom like ours and the heat and A/C air pressure turn it on.  Waste of energy.

I purchased two Pass & Seymour, TR1 time switches to replace the sensors, but they require four terminal wires, black (power from the box), red (power to fan), white (neutral) and ground.

Does anyone know of a three-wire time switch I can purchase? We will have the up to date wires in the new O-B home, but in the meantime I would like to install the correct switch.


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Posted to ICF-Construction by Frank in Elkridge, MD on 4/7/2011

After meeting with 7 designers, today we are meeting with our designer to sign the contract, and in two to three weeks we should have a set of plans we can start using to talk to subs. We made our decision based on hands-on experience and knowledge of working with the HoCo permit office. We hope to hear from the MD group for suggestions: Elizabeth, Tom, John, Joe and anyone from this neck of the woods. 

Two weeks ago we visited the BaCo HG show, and this weekend we visited the HoCo Home and Garden show and we found it quite useful to talk to local contractors about our construction ideas. We (mostly me) also plan to visit construction sites near the lot and talk to subs who are actually working. Since I'm fluent in Spanish, it shouldn't be a problem to find good subs but recommendations are definitely welcome. 

We are almost sure we're building with ICF, so if anyone knows of an ICF house under construction in the area, let us know.

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Posted to ICF-Construction by Frank in Elkridge, MD on 3/25/2011

Here is a good idea to save money on a horizontal geothermal system if you're building with a basement. I received my current Solar Today Magazine last week and I read an article about an energy-saving study in Tennessee by the name of ZebrAlliance. In this particular study, they have built four different houses applying many energy-saving ideas. Two of the houses includes a horizontal geothermal system using the foundation wall excavation to run the loops (houses 1 and 2). In addition to the foundation wall excavations, they also used the utility trenches to extend the lines. I thought it was a good idea to share:

Since we are considering a geothermal system, it might save us some money. I know this type of idea may require additional planing and coordination; we'll just have to up the recommended planning hours from 1,000 to 1020. No big deal!!!

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Posted to ICF-Construction by Frank in Elkridge, MD on 12/11/2010 12:39:40 PM

We are in our home-designing stage, and would like to know the best way to search for a designer in our area. We are looking to build a 3,000 to 3,400-sq-ft house with a dual master suite, one on the first level and another on the second floor for a total of four bedrooms. The idea is that our elderly mother(s) can stay in the lower master suite when they visit and we can use it when we retire in 10 years. Since we know exactly what we want, we can save money by having a designer help us with the house plan.

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