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By Rick in CA on 11/13/2003


Anyone have working experience with using ICF for walls? I will be O-B'ing in the Sierras (5,000' - heat/cold and fire threat) - originally looked at 2x6 stick but came across an industry link to ICF panels. I liked the idea of integrated insulation and the ability to shotcrete the exterior and possibly use rock-work molds for visual effect. Only questions - how does the cost of ICF compare to 2x6 with glass insulation? And what do I do on the INTERIOR side of the ICF panels?
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By John in NM on 11/30/2003


Rick, I am planning a mountain home too, and ICF looks interesting. I read a post stating ICF cost is about 4% higher than stick, but that may vary if you save on labor costs. Amvic, TF System, Standard ICF are some that have a "stud" integrated on the inside so you can just screw the sheetrock in place. Also looking at precast concrete planks for the floor of second level. Don't have numbers yet, but hope cost is reasonable because I see many long-term advantages; quieter, more thermal mass making the temp more even (that is the big advantage with adobe homes) strength, and good fire rating (I live in the forest). Hope to be ready next spring.

John
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/6/2004


I am relatively new to this site (first post here, but longer-term lurker), but am also considering owner-building with ICFs. I am looking at the ECO-Block system, mostly because I can get great local support and the local distributor (ICF Solutions) really supports O-B. There are several O-Bs locally who have used/are using ECO-Block. I was able to take an ICF installers' course sponsored by ICF Solutions and ECO-Block - if you have one available locally from whatever ICF block distributors service your area, I highly recommend it. As a bonus, If I do use ECO-Block at some point in the future, they will refund my course costs.
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By Pete in Boulder, CO on 1/11/2004


I too am interested in building with ICF's. There is a good site at icfweb.com. I think this is the best way for an O-B to go. You can do a lot of the work yourself. Plus, you are building a structure that is far more energy-efficient than stick-built.
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By Marc in Dayton, NV on 1/15/2004


Hey Rick,

Saw your post a few months ago about ICF building... we will be owner-building next year outside Reno, NV with Reward Wall Systems ICF, which has great support out there... not exactly sure where you are in CA, but a great distributor in the Carson City area will provide great service. I just read an article that said ICF homes were 2-4% more expense up front, but you will recoup that in the first two years in energy efficiency.

I am going to do the work myself with a few friends, so I plan on saving money using ICF because it does not require a huge crew! The nice thing about ICF is that once the wall is up, you do not have to think about housewrap or interior insulation, everything is true and square for drywall and the new synthetic stuccoes will go right over the exterior with minimal prep (we plan on a stucco and stone mix). The more I research the more I find it to be a win-win.
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By Tom on 1/20/2004


Please send me web links or info on the stucco you plan on using on the exterior. I had the same idea and was considering a mixture of stucco material with ceramic to increase the R-factor. I don't know if that will work, but it sounds feasible.

Thanks, Tom
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/22/2004


One of the challenges we are finding is designing to use ICFs. Most of the designers and architects we have been talking to "...tried this once five or six years ago, and the project went over budget..." so they don't recommend it (and all identified that this cost anywhere from 20% more to over $100K more). You really need to find someone familiar with the technique for the design; they are out there, it just takes effort. I don't simply want to convert a stick house plan for use with ICFs, because I am interested in reinforcement schedules, designing window locations for ease of placement, designing dimensions for ease of placement, etc.
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By Bill in Waxahachie, TX on 2/6/2004


The problem with ICF's is that the "true" amount of bracing required to prevent bulging and blowouts is drastically greater than some suppliers indicate, which you won't discover until it's too late. You might want to look at a building block called Durisol. It is similar to the energy savings of ICF's, needs minimum bracing, and far exceeds any other type of construction for sound absorption.
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By Caroline in Lakebay, WA on 6/29/2004


I am building with ICF (PolySteel specifically). You get close to R-33 to R-50 with ICF--you have no leakages from seams, as there are none. With stick built--there are always leakages.You can put your insulation in the roofing.

Please remember if you are not putting down a slab home, to insulate your floors, and put sound insulation between your rooms. In the mountains you can look at a metal roof, which will also save you money. Good luck--I hope to start within the next four months--but I am writing contracts first!
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By Caroline in Lakebay, WA on 6/29/2004


Sorry, I did not answer your questions. The cost is about 10% more depending upon finding a builder who will build one for you. You finish off the inside the same way you do a stick built--with drywall--where you hang cabinets, you may want to put in 1/2-in plywood. One major advantage, if you put on metal roof, and stucco or other non-flammable exterior, you have a fireproof house on the outside.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 6/30/2004


I am going to start construction pretty soon (excavator gets here on July 5) and ended up planning for the Amvic ICF system. I ended up with Amvic because the installer I hired prefers this system due to the strength of the block. I had bids both ways (ICF and stick-built) and found the ICF costs the same compared to good-quality stick-built construction based on the cost of lumber.

My bids came in at the absolute high point of lumber prices (they have stabilized and are starting to come back down in Kansas City)... Given the $0 price differential and the quality and experience of the ICF crew I hired, the decision became a no-brainer. The key here is an experienced ICF installer and ICF crew, so no on-the-job training at my expense.
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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 10/18/2004


Have any of you out there who have built or are building with ICF had much problem finding interior framers who are willing to work with ICF? I have had a hard time convincing framers to even give me quotes and some want to quote high, due to the extra time for learning curve. Would like to hear  personal experiences with this. It might be just that Spokane is in a boom building time and finding any subs is a challenge.

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By John in Erie, CO on 10/18/2004


I am in the framing portion of my ICF house right now. I shopped five different framers, and ended up going with some guys who have seen it all. My house is their second ICF house, but the first with some new stuff in the way I did my roof. What I found shopping framers is that some guys couldn't frame anything without a super-detailed drawing of each wall. I can do drawings, but I had what most people and my engineer consider a full set of plans.

This framer was getting panicky, and his price showed it. Another framer took a look at my site (ready for interior framing) and then gave me his price. His price was his standard price per square foot, multiplied by the footprint size. (Keep in mind, with 11-13" thick walls, there is a lot of square footage that doesn't have anything done to it). He told me that even though the exterior walls were done (and all the openings framed, no headers/lintels required) that I really didn't save anything by doing the exterior in ICF, and that framing was going to cost as much as a regular stick-frame house!

Hah! I had three framers (two who had not yet worked with ICF) who gave me bids and all three were in the same ballpark. Each was reasonably excited to learn, and none were worried about the learning curve - the ICF distributor is in the area, which helped too. I ended up picking the most experienced crew, even though I was only their second ICF house. They are thinking about installing ICF in addition to their framing, as they really think it's the way to build, having helped out on two projects.

On labor costs (labor here is expensive) I paid about $2/sf for the framing of the subfloor and about $4/sf to frame the roof (trusses) and interior walls and a large deck. That price also included setting windows and doors. As mentioned in other ICF posts in these forums, take a class. The information in the class will help you guide the subs and other trades and make everything easier for everyone. My electrician actually gave me a slightly better price because he wanted to work on my job specifically to gain knowledge on the products.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 10/19/2004


I have heard of other O-Bs using ICF having the same problem. This is threefold; 1) Most framers haven't actually worked on ICF construction so there is a learning curve. 2) The ones that have have probably worked on ICF construction where the walls weren't quite straight (typical using ICF) and the labor costs ate them up, hence the higher installed price they pass on to the builder. 3) The carpenters who know what they are doing with ICF probably have enough work with established ICF builders.

There are two solutions to this. I know in Illinois, the union apprentice carpenters are learning to frame the exterior walls with ICF. This education process is the carpenters' recognition that ICF is here to stay, and if they want to ensure future work for their carpenters they better embrace this technology.

I took a different approach. I had floor trusses and an engineered floor system developed. If you are going to do this, you better be very meticulous and detail oriented. The USP truss hangers were cast directly into the ICF and tied into the top course of rebar. The upside, once these were delivered floor framing took a professional crew of two people 1-1/2 days, with another day for the subfloor. This system cost me about the same in materials as using TJI wood I-joists. The crew was impressed enough that they have used my truss supplier to bid a couple of other jobs.

The downside, my underground plumbing was slightly off, so a 2x6 wall became a 2x10 wall (2x4 furred next to the 2x6 wall) so the trusses would have proper bearing and the plumbing would end up in the wall. This could have been solved by moving the plumbing slightly. In traditional framing, the fix would be to leave some joists longer, and since they are all field-cut anyway, this wouldn't be a big deal.

Once this was done, the interior non-load-bearing partition walls become easy to frame. I hired a laid off carpenter to help me and paid him hourly. I had him go through a day labor shop so that he had workers' compensation insurance and they also took care of social security, taxes, and the other administrivia I don't know how to deal with. I certainly don't need an uninsured carpenter getting hurt on my construction site.

Wherever there is a problem, sometimes you just need to be creative to find a solution. Given the cost and ease of using floor trusses, I am surprised this isn't more mainstream.


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 10/20/2004


Ken,

I've just started to research the ICF process and was wondering if you wouldn't mind telling the name of your designer/draftsman who helped you design your home?

Thanks in advance,

Jon


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 10/21/2004


Rundquist and Associates. I dealt with Greg Rundquist. He was great.  816.472.6006. He definitely knows who I am.

I shopped a lot for an architect willing to work with ICF; I found this to be a big challenge. I found a couple, but Greg was far and away the best alternative for me.


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By Bryan in Reynoldsburg, OH on 10/21/2004


The question I have is what is the best way to find a framing crew? I would have thought between the phone book and the Internet, there would have been a lot of framers, but it seems you have to wade through hundreds of general contractors!!

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 10/21/2004


This is where you need to get creative in your planning process.

1) For example, my DW and I frequent several local drinking establishments for Happy Hour. Several of these are "blue collar" type bars. We talk to everybody while we are there. We know all of the bartenders, and a lot of the patrons. The bartenders know all of the patrons. Point being, the bartenders know we are building our own house. When we are in there, they always ask about progress. We tell them we are looking for certain expertise, and to let us know if they know anyone willing to bring us a proposal. For example, when we needed carpentry, we told them we were looking for a carpenter, basic scope of work, how much work, what tools, whether we were willing to take a side job on the weekend or wanted a primary crew, etc. We have met suppliers here, subcontractors here, and if we talk to them while we are at the bar we buy their drinks. We buy a lot of beer at Happy Hour prices.

2) Another example would be to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. There are two kinds of volunteers: 1) those who understand construction, and 2) those who like to say "I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity." Gravitate toward the first type, even if you don't know anything. Most of these people are professionals (you don't learn framing without swinging a hammer, same goes for electricity and plumbing), not amateur volunteers pushing the broom. You get contacts, and you can validate quality of work because you worked side by side with them to build a house when they were working for free. I figure if you pay them, you probably get a higher grade of work than the pro bono work.

3) Talk to your local suppliers. They know what contractors are busy, who is looking for work, who does good work, and who cuts corners. This is one reason you use smaller trade-only suppliers and not Home Depot or Lowe's. Talk to them. Most people working at the lumberyard have built their own house, or at least a garage or deck - these people have expertise. Many of them used to work in the construction trades. These people have contacts.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 10/21/2004


Finding framers is a challenge - getting them to give you a bid is an even bigger challenge. Word of mouth and lumberyards. Two lumberyards and one truss company around here that we are getting takeoffs from have given us lists of subs and framers. Unfortunately, even with the lists (and some numbers are old and invalid) we have a hard time finding framers. Our best lead came to us via conversation at my daughter's preschool. Another mother's husband does framing and voila! I asked if he'd be willing to bid. Good luck and lurking around in bars sounds like a good idea - you never know what you might find! Also, btw, around here we have a home-builders-association booklet that lists the trades and the members to each, such as electrician etc... they have an apprentice trade organization, too. You might see if you have something local like that too. Though ours won't help you, you can see what I mean at shba.com.

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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 10/21/2004


One place to find framers that people often miss is existing construction sites.

If you drive by a site, stop and ask what crews are on site. Find the foreman and get a business card. Ask if they'll give you the owner or general's number so that you can check references.

At very least, you know that these companies are in business.


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By Don in Agoura, CA on 10/21/2004


Regarding volunteering with Habitat, I am taking this route and I figure there are two things you get out of this:

1) Find out what you really can do yourself and what you cannot.

2) Learn enough about building a house to:
    a) Be in a better negotiating position with subs.
    b) Have more information to be able to question when a sub doesn't seem to be doing something right. The sub may be right, and your instincts wrong, but at least you both have a chance of speaking the same language.

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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 10/26/2004


Ken,

After reading many of your posts, I have decided to investigate using ICF. Is it too personal to ask how much your sub charged you for this? You are building a reverse story and a half? How many sq ft?

We are wanting to put up a story and a half, about 2,300 sq ft. I would like to use ICF all the way to the eaves, which is basically the basement and the first floor, then stick-build the second-floor dormers. I like the way you did your floor trusses. If you don't mind giving out your sub list.  

I have left a message for the architect you suggested. I did find a draftsman in NKC who will re-draw and get the structural stamp and sign for around $1,200-$1,400. 

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again,

Jon

P.S. What stage are you in now on your home? It looks great.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 10/26/2004


PM me at by clicking the "send a private message" button at the left and I can provide more details. I am somewhat hesitant to discuss my bids on a public forum, lest they be taken out of context. I have been happy to share my sub list with other people who have contacted me via this site. I will even tell you people I talked to that I didn't select, and why - perhaps saving you some time and effort. You're local; I would be happy to give you a guided tour.

As to the floor trusses, this is one decision I have been happy with. My truss supplier is Builder's Resource in Merriam, KS, although McCray Lumber has since acquired them - talk to Jerry Meek. My roof trusses should come in within a week or so, from McCray this time (again Jerry Meek).

If you are going to do floor trusses in ICF, you need to be meticulous in the template. Especially if you did like I did and cast the truss hangers directly into the concrete. Floor trusses are not very forgiving. My architect asked me the day before the trusses were delivered if I thought I made the right decision. He was skeptical, but not as skeptical as the truss designer was. Considering how easily they dropped in, with no truss modifications (although a couple of field repairs as described in another thread), I really think the factory-built floor system was a good decision. When you consider that the material only costs were slightly less than the TJI material-only bid I received, and the labor savings from the floor trusses not needing any cutting, etc., why it really becomes the right call. The only downside was that a plumbing wall (also a bearing wall) was not in quite the proper location, and furring a 2x4 wall adjacent to the 2x6 wall solved this. Using TJI, these pieces would be field-cut anyway and this wouldn't be an issue.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 11/5/2004


I am building with ICF. I got ahold of the ICF guy again, and someone else bought a bunch of PolySteel 6" waffle and then returned them. So he is sitting on them over the winter--he is giving me a super price on them. The basement will be 6" solid, and the main level will be 6" waffle. Although my concrete budget is now blown out of the water, my lumber and insulation costs are dramatically reduced.

Interesting note: I called the insurance company who I have builders risk through... after three minutes on the phone, they gave me an estimate of the house value within 2% of what I paid the appraiser $300 for ($194K from the insurer vs. $190K from the appraisal). After talking to the insurance company again about ICF, the appraisal went to $217K, and the insurance costs went DOWN about 20%. So while construction costs will go up a bit, ownership costs will go down because heating and cooling costs are less and  insurance costs are less.

It just made sense for me to go with ICF.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 12/3/2004


I am going to have my floor trusses set into the ICF concrete walls as well... eliminating the cost of the Johnson clips ($750).

Did you run into any inspector hassles this way?

BTW, my floor-truss company says they only need about 1-1/2" of ledge to sit the trusses on. My trusses are top-chord bearing.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/6/2004


No problems with the inspector. However, my truss system was engineered based on the USP hangers - I provided the manufacturer's data and a sample directly to the truss designers. My truss designer had never seen these before, but afterward has recommended them for several installations (which says a lot as they are Simpson Strong-Tie distributors). My code inspector simply looks at the installation to make sure it was installed per the engineering. They don't have the qualifications to determine if the hangers are the correct way to attach the trusses, but they do have the qualification to tell if they were installed per the engineering specifications and drawings. The inspector looked at these connections prior to the concrete pour (tied in to the rebar), and will again during the framing inspection (enough fasteners holding the truss in place).

The USP connectors I used have a lot more bearing than was necessary per the truss designers. What I did was stub my trusses 1/2" (have them all fabricated 1/2" short) so that they would drop in easier. The whole floor system dropped in smooth as butter with this extra 1/2" to work with. If your trusses aren't stubbed, you need to make sure the trusses are perfectly perpendicular to the wall or they will bind and be difficult to install.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 12/20/2004


Do you remember the USP truss support part number ?
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/21/2004


I don't have one close by right now. An interesting note is that it isn't in the catalog - this was pointed out to me by the truss designer.

IIRC it is an RPW series connector. I will get part numbers and report back later.


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By Chuck in Everett, WA on 12/28/2004


If you have questions about building with ICFs or PolySteel, I would be glad to offer ideas or suggestions. I'm a PS distributor in the Seattle area and have a large home underway and would be glad to assist others.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/28/2004


USP IFH Series. The sizes for 1-1/2" wide (single joists) are IFH28 and IFH28-11 (longer bearing). For a 3" wide (double joist) they are IFH28-2. For the 3-1/2" (Trus Joist) they are IFH48 and IFH48-11 (longer bearing).

This should help you.


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By Gregory in Euclid, OH on 12/29/2004


I am new to the site and I am looking for anyone in the northeast Ohio area who has built using an ICF foundation (basement walls). We have recently purchased land in Auburn Twp., and will be owner-building. We are in the planning phase of our home-building adventure and will be hopefully breaking ground in September. If anyone has built in this area, I would appreciate input on area contractors who do this kind of work.

Thanks in advance,

Greg


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 12/29/2004


After one decides to build with ICF, do you already know which block you are going to use before you get your plans design/drawn? Or do you have the plans and then decide which blocks, adapting them to fit the plans?

With there being many different sizes, I would think it would be wise to know the block ahead of time. Am I thinking through this correctly?

Thanks,

Jon


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 12/31/2004


I just finished my foundation using ICF's. Don't hire somebody to do it. Do it yourself. Building with ICF's is simple, and pouring the concrete is a snap (using a concrete pump truck). I did it with my 16-year-old son and a friend of his. I used Liteblok and saved more than $10K doing the work myself. I also got a better foundation.

There are a lot of little tricks to concrete. But you need to know them if you do the work yourself or hire somebody to do it for you.

For instance, the grade of steel in your foundation comes in several strengths, usual is grade 40 and 60. The grade 60 is much stronger than the grade 40. Both cost the same. Basement contractors often use grade 40, because it's much easier to bend (i.e. it's weak). I was willing to put in a little more elbow grease to get the stronger steel in my walls. Most homeowners don't even know what kind of steel is in their walls. Make sure you are not one of them.

Happy to help any way I can...


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/1/2005


Most of the block is based on a 48" linear size by 16" tall, so it really doesn't matter. ARXX has some strange dimensions (metric), and the corner dimensions are all different. If you deal with the commercial ICF block, they are all based on sizes of CMU units and are standardized. Also the IRC does not care what block you use.

Now then, the code inspector needed to know what block I was using so they could verify code approval. Interesting, since the block contributes no strength to the finished wall. It was the first time they dealt with Amvic, so they had a learning curve to get up to speed. I tried to explain that Amvic was no different than Reward and ARXX (both of which the building inspector was familiar with) in that they don't ask whether a builder is using aluminum or wood for basement form work in traditional construction. This all fell on deaf ears.

One advantage is that all of the ICF companies have standard drawings that you simply add to the detail drawings of your plan. This is all based on their block. When I switched from ECO-Block to Amvic (based on the subcontractor), my architect simply printed a page of Amvic standard details and eliminated the page of ECO-Block standard details. No problems. I don't know if it would have been necessary for the permit, but I felt that since they were not familiar with either system, it would be best if my drawings match my materials.


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By Chuck in Everett, WA on 1/1/2005


Regarding the selection of rebar grade (strength) mentioned: it is very important to look at what grade is specified by the structural drawings, tables or engineer. If you installed grade 40 bar and the design called out grade 60 and the inspector shows you the plans where it specifies grade 60, you will not be pouring concrete that day or until you replace the bar.

We had a local vendor deliver 20 sticks of bar to a job site that was grade 40 (we did not know he did this) and once we found out, we took all of that bar off the site ASAP. So, be very attentive to what grade your plans call for. Grade 60 bar (60,000 psi = 60 ksi) is not hard to bend or cut up to size 5. Over that, it gets harder and the tools you normally buy won't work. However, I have yet to see grade 60 number 6 bar called out for horizontal in an ICF home. Normally the grade 6 or 7 (typically 5) will be only in the vertical direction and will not need to be bent.

Hope this helps,

Chuck


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/1/2005


I guess our inspectors here aren't as diligent as other places. I have spoken to them repeatedly over the phone, but have yet to see one... so I take lots of pictures to prove what I did.

As for doing it yourself... setting PolySteel ICF is relatively easy. There is now a "low temp" glue that works pretty good down to 20 degrees F or so. We should pour the basement walls next week. I'll let you know how it goes.


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By Chuck in Everett, WA on 1/1/2005


Well, that's interesting about the inspectors. I guess that since we are in a seismic zone 3/4 they get more fussy. Also, there seems to be a flag point with the building departments in Seattle and other areas. If the concrete spec is for over 2,500 psi concrete, they think its going to be a commercial high rise and then they get really fussy. We have had to chat with more than a few inspectors.

Good luck with the pour. Make sure you brace and use more bracing. It all helps to keep walls straight.


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 1/2/2005


In NH, where the state motto is "Live Free or Die", they don't do footing inspections or pre-pour inspections. Inspection is done prior to backfill. So they have no clue what got put into the foundation. So this must be done by the homeowner. That's why, even if you hire a basement contractor, you need to be on top of what is going on.

P.S. I asked our local inspector to come out prior to the footing and wall pours to do an "extra" inspection, which he did. I figure the inspector is on my side.


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By Kris in Chillicothe, MO on 1/13/2005


Ken, I am now into my 10th hour of the 1,000 hours of planning Mark recommends, and I can already tell that I'm probably going to spend about half my time on determining what products and construction methods are best. I'm curious why you went with Amvic ICF instead of ECO-Block. Also, I have three sons, all working in the construction/concrete finishing field, and am thinking of sending one to the ECO-Block training. Did you attend one of these sessions and was it worth it?
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By John in Erie, CO on 1/13/2005


I took the Nudura training class (2 days, $150, credited on first purchase). I highly recommend taking one of the ICF classes, and with that class, a good dealer, and a little attention to detail, you ought to be able to get great ICF results with most of the popular ICF blocks.

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/18/2005


I took the ECO-Block course for $125. If I would have purchased ECO-Block, it would have been credited off my first order. Even though I didn't ultimately use ECO-Block, it was money well spent. I anticipate most manufacturer's courses are very similar. Even if you intend to subcontract the ICF, take the course as you learn enough to be able to evaluate good subcontractors vs. subs taking shortcuts with factory requirements.

I didn't choose Amvic over ECO-Block. Instead, after receiving bids I chose to subcontract the ICF portion of my house. I am trying to balance my limited resources vs. what it costs a professional to do the same job. Based on my ICF bid, I decided to focus my efforts differently (I just finished all interior framing myself, something I originally intended to subcontract). My ICF subcontractor prefers Amvic over all of the other blocks he has used, and I saw no reason to disagree or ask him to use a block he was not familiar with. At the end of the day, I have concrete, rebar, and foam insulation; any ICF would provide the same thing to the end user.


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 1/19/2005


Okay, I got my internet-purchased plans back from the draftsman with the changes that we wanted. They look great to me. The plans are for a 1 1/2 story. I had, or I am planning, on using ICF for the basement and the first floor. The second floor is mostly dormers on the side and the rear of the house. The front is gables. And I plan on "stick building" the top floor. But I now have a couple questions:

If the top floor is stick built, does this counteract the benefits of using ICF? The house obviously isn't going to be as efficient as it would be if it could be ICF throughout.

How could the gables be built using ICF? 12/12 pitch.

Has anyone seen a window buck for an arched window? If so, please direct me to a source.

TIA

Jon


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/19/2005


Are you using roof trusses? If so, the gable ends would normally be taken up by the truss fabricator who would provide gable-end trusses.

What ICF system are you using (more to the point, since you are local and we have exchanged PMs, I am curious who you may have been talking to).


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 1/19/2005


Honestly, the only distributor I have spoken to is Bob Fisher, PolySteel. I do have the name of your ICF sub and will ask him for his bid as soon as I get the plans finalized and stamped.   

The main question I had was the one on efficiency; if half (or most) of the house is ICF, will the remaining non-ICF portion "waste" the benefits of using it in the first place?


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/20/2005


Jon-

No, I don't think it will be a waste to do most of your house, but not all, in ICF. What you are doing in ICF will be super-insulated. Once you get the walls poured (we just did that last Friday) place your hand up to the ICF... especially on a cold day. It will feel warm because the EPS foam is reflecting the heat radiated by your hand...

One word of advice: Don't let your ICF dealer talk you into "making your own corners" from two straight blocks because he either didn't have them in stock or couldn't get them in time. Make him get you corners or go find someone else. We had numerous problems with the basement pour with corners leaking. It slowed the pour down, and the pumper truck charges $125/hour.

Besides, formed corner pieces tend to keep the wall straighter and look neater.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/20/2005


vbuck.com/gallery

V-BUCK has them.




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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 1/20/2005


Thanks for the link, Ken!
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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 1/20/2005


Thanks for the "heads up", Joe. 

I'm meeting with the PolySteel distributor on Saturday to look over my plans and get any suggestions. 

Thanks again.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/20/2005


While I found many of the ICF distributors were installers first (distributing the block they are installing), Bob is a distributor only.  Are you looking to DIY the ICF portion of your house?

If so, I would encourage you to look at the service after the sale.  Do they rent bracing?  How much technical assistance will they give you?  Bob is not really local (Lawrence), how much support will you get?  How many material deliveries?  Will they pick up excess material?  Will they be there when the pump truck shows up?  Do they get their hands dirty?


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 1/20/2005


I was actually going to meet with him to show him my plans; he said he'd look them over and tell me whether he thought it was feasible to build my 1 1/2 story in ICF or not.

I was pretty psyched about it for three months, then I started to wonder about the top floor being "stick built" and how I could keep the top floor of the house as tight as the bottom.

We'll see Saturday, I guess.

Thanks,

Jon


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/20/2005


My experience has been this: my PolySteel ICF distributor has been EXTREMELY honest and helpful. He has lent me the braces, rebar cutting tool, glue gun... everything I need to DIY at no cost--all I am paying for is materials. He has been SUPER. He was there during the pour, and will be there again on the next pour. This PolySteel distributor has been very open and honest with me. He even made a personal trip to Iowa over the warm break to pick up extra block I needed to complete the basement. I have zero complaints, and only praise for him and his family. I hope this guy make a small fortune distributing PolySteel forms in northern Indiana.
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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 1/24/2005


I have some questions about ICF's that I have been unable to find objective answers for. Namely, since the price of concrete has been on the rise, what are the advantages/disadvantages of using ICF designs that are a little more frugal in their use of concrete (i.e. waffle grid, screen grid, post and beam). At face value, these systems seem like a good deal when compared to flat wall systems in light of their frugal concrete use. Additionally, I am looking to construct some relatively high walls (three stories at 14' 10', and 9' respectively). Would I be correct in assuming that taller walls with fewer lifts can be attained by utilizing a system that employs less concrete? I'm assuming that less concrete used equates into less hydraulic pressure on the forms allowing for taller walls, greater lift heights, and potentially fewer blowouts. Additionally how do these designs impact the strength of the structure, susceptibility to flooding, insect infestation, or attachment of wallboard/siding?

Nowhere in my research have I been able to find objective head-to-head comparisons of the different ICF types. Most people I have spoken with tell me to stick with traditional flat wall systems, but I suspect this is because that is all they have ever worked with. I have been leaning towards Reward Walls because of a local stocking distributor, support, and familiarity among local installation crews. I have a long way to go till I break ground and have been doing considerable research. I am hoping to find a solution that will address the unique construction concerns of my project. However, I find that the more I learn, the more questions I have.
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By John in Erie, CO on 1/24/2005


I used a flat wall also, but here is what I have 'heard' so take it with a grain of salt. Finding anything objective about ICF's is darn near impossible. The market for this product is growing, but tight, so most of the ICF dealers are beating the kidneys out of everyone else for each sale, and a lot of FUD gets thrown around. Do as much research as you can. A lot of the ICF sales guys don't even really know their competition's ratings, but will misquote them at the drop of a hat. There are some good ICF sellers too that will just sell their product and provide good support. Keep searching until you find the guys that sell their product instead of bashing the others.

I've heard:
1- Consolidation
2- Strength/Extra steel
3- Fire protection
4- Possible gaps between foam blocks in non-concrete areas providing an air pathway???

On the other hand, they will have a higher flat-wall R-value, but a lower thermal mass. That is really a building science issue.


After pouring my own ICF, I'd agree that consolidation could be a problem with some of the grid ICF's - A lot more channels to flow through. This could be taken care of by a good sub who knows how to pour a more fluid mix without bows or blowouts, so this can be mitigated.

The strength will not be as high, so you may end up with more steel, but only your engineer can make this decision. Steel ain't cheap either nowadays.

Finally, a firefighter was out looking at my walls, getting ready to build his own. He had seen a fire melt the foam off of a screen grid ICF, all the way through. If the fire rating is important to your application (i.e. you are building in a high fire area) then it should be considered, but if you are building in a typical neighborhood, then it may not really be an issue. Perhaps he may have more insight...

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By Chuck in Everett, WA on 1/24/2005


First - three stories with a waffle grid can be done, as we are pouring a three-story using 8-inch PolySteel waffle. It's an 8,800 sf home.

Second - regarding the fire issue: to get a fire-rated wall, the system, ICF and concrete has to be blasted by a gas flame for a few hours and then hit with a water stream. If the wall has any holes in it, it fails. The forms with plastic interties fail due to the fact they get melted during the heating and create a hole between the sides. The forms with steel ties, PolySteel has a four-hour rating due to the fact the steel does not melt and does not create a hole in the wall. Hope that comparison and comment sheds some light on that topic.

Chuck


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/25/2005


I think you are just looking for something to worry about... our basement is 6" PolySteel (11" thick form), and the top is 9-1/4" PolySteel waffle grid. If you build a concrete home, you will pay about 5% more than a stick-framed  equivalent, but you will have a super-insulated home that is extremely cost effective to heat and cool. It will also be quieter and virtually tornado-proof. You will also get a discount on your homeowners insurance, because it is a masonry house--the insurance company reduced my builders risk insurance from $681/year to $530/year. So your direct mortgage will go up because concrete and block isn't cheap, but your ownership costs will go down. I'm hoping to come out ahead. Additionally, the appraisal will go up about 10%, making your equity greater and reducing the chance that the bank will require PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).

Building a house is scary enough without finding things to worry about that you have no control over. Best of luck to you.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/25/2005


Check out this website:

toolbase.org

They have a fairly comprehensive study into the advantages and disadvantages about owning and building with ICF.


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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 1/25/2005


Thank you for all the responses. I can see that there are issues to be had with screen-grid and post-and-beam ICF's that I had not considered. As for saving concrete, it appears that the waffle-grid design may be the best compromise. I'm glad to hear that someone has indeed built three stories with it with success. The Chinese have been consuming a large portion of the world's concrete supply and from what I have read, there will not be much price relief for a couple years when some new plants currently under construction are expected to be come online.

The other concern I had regarded wall height and and special measures/number of lifts required. I will be building three stories at 14', 10', and 9' respectively. The first floor could possibly present some challenges. I'm sure that I will pursue all of the usual bracing and gluing procedures, plus perhaps some others I have seen, such as using 4x8 sheets of OSB or plywood to reinforce the lower 4' during the pour and then saving for later use elsewhere. Part of my question revolved around what system or block is best to use to avoid blowouts and distortions, especially in light of the high walls I will be using. Obviously a fairly robust block is called for. The fire-resistance ratings are also well taken.

I had looked into the PolySteel block. It looks to be a proven system and many houses have been built with it. I do however have a couple of concerns with it. First is that the metal studs have got to be a royal pain in the butt to deal with when running utilities. (Do you have to cut this stuff with tin snips at every junction?). Secondly, what happens a few years down the road... Will the steel ties corrode, expand, and cause fractures in the concrete?

I posted my previous message to a couple of ICF specialty forums. Hopefully some of the "Pros" will respond with a comparison of the various system types. Wherever I look, everyone is always comparing one block to another, but nowhere have I been able to see evaluations of the various systems, their features, and exactly which features make one any better than another. I really don't care what "brand" I eventually end up using; I just want the product that produces the most favorable outcome for my project.

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By Chuck in Everett, WA on 1/25/2005


Here are some tips for working with the steel inserts in PolySteel. To begin with, the strips end 1.5 inches from the top and bottom of the form, giving you a clear cutting area of three inches between each row horizontally. Wires etc. can go in there with no issues. Regarding the steel ties, they are galvanized and will corrode very little over time and will outperform the plastic ties, which will tend to dry a bit and crack over time. That is one of the major differences between steel and plastic.

Working the forms can be a pain. Use a nail-cutting saw blade on the circular saw to cut the furring strips when you need to. It will rip them. Build a holding jig on the ground with 2x4 around a block and put your blocks needing to be cut in it. That will make the Skilsaw easy to use. Also, get good-quality screws to attach the sheetrock, as they will go into the steel faster. Cheap screws are a realllll pain. Hope that helps.

Chuck


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/26/2005


Chuck is correct... use a worm saw with a new steel cutting blade. Cuts the steel very smoothly. As for cutting the ties between the two foam pieces, use a compound hand wire cutter. Looks like a miniature bolt-cutter. $14 at Home Depot.

As for running electric, a hot knife cuts the channel, making it a snap. Some builders say it is even easier than drilling studs. I have a hot knife and a modified soldering pencil to route grooves into the foam. Once the wire is pushed into the channel, fill it back up with foam.

On stick-built houses, you can put up blocking to secure curtain rods, etc. What do you use with ICF? Do I have to hollow out a relief and fill it with 1/2" plywood?


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/31/2005


Wow, a lot of recent activity in this thread. Now for my input:

1) I would not select my ICF based on trying to save concrete. If you want an ICF house, you are at the mercy of your local market and what is used there. If they only use flat-wall systems in you local market, I wouldn't want them trying to learn waffle-wall, post-and-beam, or other system on my project. Stick with tried and true and locally available.

2) If I am trying to DIY, it is flat wall only. On my six-inch flat wall, for large openings (9"), we had a tough enough time getting the concrete top flow around the double #5 rebar top and bottom of the lintels, and this was with 4,000 psi mud (flows like gravy compared to the standard 2,500 psi mud). I can't imagine trying to get it to flow into all of the waffle grids without voids.

3) If you want to save material on flat-wall systems, look at the four-inch systems and save a third of the concrete over the six-inch wall. In my area, they don't use these because the increased labor cost more than offsets the material costs. (This is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Deal with qualified ICF subcontractors, and they will tell you the best-value way to get the job done.) If it is waffle wall, they will let you know.

4) Please note that the code deals with waffle-wall and post-and-beam differently than flat-wall systems (at least IRC 2000, which is my relevant code). In my locale, I had a tough enough time educating my code inspector on flat-wall, I would not want to take the extra time or engineering to try to educate on post-and-beam.

5) Hydrostatic pressure is not based on the quantity of concrete, but the height of the lift. Pour the concrete in XX lifts, and the hydrostatic pressure doesn't care if you are pouring four-inch-thick wall or 24-inch-thick wall. However on the thinner wall, the wall will fill faster allowing the hydrostatic pressure to increase faster, potentially overshooting the maximum and resulting in a blowout (according to the local knowledge, fairly common with four-inch flat wall systems). The hydrostatic pressure subsides as the concrete sets up, which is why they pour in lifts. You could pour that 14' wall in 4' lifts without any special bracing (although the standard bracing I have seen only extends to about 12').

6) Around here, any wall over 10' requires engineering to support the wall height. If you are pouring a 14' wall, this is definitely an engineered wall and not just what the reinforcing schedule is in the code book.

7) Fire protection - isn't this largely provided by sheetrock? I can't have exposed foam, even in unfinished areas (a large part of my basement is unfinished). Also with fire rating, please note that once you put in a penetration (window or door), your fire rating reduces. e.g put a 20-minute fire-rated door in a four-hour fire-rated wall, and now your wall is only rated for 20 minutes.

8) Lumber prices are volatile. Steel prices are volatile. Labor prices are based on regional factors. There is not a set amount that ICF will cost more or less than stick framing, unless you are reading the manufacturer's literature. My house cost less to frame with ICF than with sticks, and this is not even accounting for reduced HVAC, different insulation, etc. This is simply comparing shell to shell; ICF was cheaper. Since that time however, lumber prices have come down and steel prices have gone up. Bid them both and make an informed decision based on current conditions, and not on anecdotal evidence presented by some manufacturer trying to justify upgrading your components.

9) ICF houses are not tornado proof. They would be if you didn't put in any windows, but who wants to live here? The main failure mechanism with tornadoes is the garage door fails first (are you building a house without a garage?), causing the roof to fail next. The fact is that the roof connects to the house with a mechanical connection, typically a hurricane clip or hurricane strap (preferred). These connections have limited strength. If your garage door fails, it is all over regardless of your construction methodology. The other tornado-failure mechanism is missiles, and as long as you have windows and doors you have little defense against missiles.

10) My homeowners insurance provides a discount based on ICF construction. However they also surcharge my cost of replacement based on ICF construction costing more to replace than standard construction (they obviously didn't pay attention to number 1 above). My homeowners is the same using ICF construction or stick-built for the same floor plan.

11) The appraiser recognized that ICF is quality construction. However the appraisal is based on what you can sell your house for, not what it cost to build. If your local market does not recognize ICF as a superior product, or if your local market does not have adequate sales of comparable ICF houses, your appraisal will be based on comparable stick houses. Being conservative is not a bad thing, it serves to keep you out of trouble.

12) After using a router to cut all of my channels for electrical and plumbing last week, I can say that hands down I would never use PolySteel. Before this sets off too much of a PolySteel defense, let me ask how many ICF manufacturers are out there, and how many use steel ties? ICF construction has been around for over 30 years and the industry has a tremendous amount of knowledge based on many years of construction. I can name only one company using steel ties, yet I can name dozens using plastic ties without issues. Since most companies are on second and third generation block, you would think that if steel ties offered a competitive advantage they would all be using them.

13) And once again, if you are subcontracting the ICF, you should select your block based on the merits of the installer and what they prefer to use. If you are DIY, you should select your block based on local availability and the distributor willingness to provide technical support and expertise to your project. In either case, the ICF itself is secondary.


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By Joe in Falling Waters, WV on 1/31/2005


Just a quick response to your number 12. The reason that you do not see others using steel is the same reason you don't see anyone other than ARXX with an interior-exposed web. Patents. ARXX holds the patent on the exposed-interior web and PolySteel holds the patent on the steel web. I personally agree with you and would rather use the plastic webs for ease of construction, but we shouldn't judge a product based on no one else making something identical to it.
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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 1/31/2005


Ken,

Thanks again for the comprehensive response. It seems that all of the responses I have gotten to date lean toward flat-wall systems. I received a response on another forum from someone who built for 6 years with waffle grid; he has since switched to a flat-wall system and states that he would not go back.

As for the 14' walls, my local Reward distributor does not seem to think that this will be a problem and has bracing that goes up to 16'. My designer has yet to consult with structural engineering (perhaps sometime in the next month or two). She has designed ICF houses before and likewise does not envision any problems with the tall walls. As for me, I'm playing the part of the skeptic here so as to short-circuit any potential problems beforehand. Hopefully before I build I will have the opportunity to be present for a tall wall build and pour.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/31/2005


Fair enough with the patent issue.

What is an interior-exposed web you refer to on the ARXX blocks? I haven't seen one in awhile. I am trying to figure out what was different. I do recall the web exposed on one side - is this what you are talking about? I have seen them installed with the exposed web pointing outward as well.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/31/2005


Ken-

Quite a rant (but very noteworthy and correct)! 

My only question (not even a disagreement) is this: Routing the electrical through the ICF requires a depth of what? I know this is a code requirement. Adding drywall reduces the depth of the ICF route by the thickness of the drywall (to stay within code) for screw penetration.

Also, what did you use for blocking in ICF? For curtain rods and towel bars and such? 1/16" aluminum plate? 

I'm sure ICF cost quite a bit more here than stick frame. I'm hoping to make some of it up on landscaping (LOL)! 

Honestly, I would tell anyone who wants to DIY their own home to be prepared for a roller coaster. Both emotionally and financially. This has been extremely stressful. I don't sleep well at night anymore. If a marriage can survive this, it can weather any storm.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 1/31/2005


Amen to that! It is a huge roller coaster and we haven't started yet and I have never had so many dreams in my life - all about home building - I sometimes wake up already sick of the subject.

Keep this thread going. I am learning a lot. We break ground on our ICF home in March. Which product did you all use for waterproofing? Looking at SUPERSEAL and a peel-and-stick product. Also, just heard of a product, it is an SIP for interior walls. I heard of a guy who is using it in conjunction with his ICF house and the framer recommended it - ended up being cheaper than stick-framing the interior. Company out of Seattle. Sounds like a good idea, as we plan to insulate the interior for sound anyway and it could go a lot quicker. Just a thought...

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By Joe in Falling Waters, WV on 2/1/2005


Yeah, ARXX offers an exposed web on one side for a stucco or masonry outside finish or on both sides for vinyl or wood siding. They claim that it makes it much easier to screw into as you can always see where you are screwing instead of having to look for the grid layout that is molded into all the others. Personally, I think this offers a very minimal reward since you would usually cover the web with the drywall or siding before you put the screws in anyway.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/1/2005


I simply set the depth gauge on my router to 2-1/2" and cut the foam all the way down to the concrete. I do not know how deep the electric has to be in the wall, but it can't go any deeper. To secure the electric, I got some "Great Stuff" expanding foam from the local evil orange.

As to backing, for the cabinets I used 1/2" plywood based on the millwright's template - the sheetrock will butt up against this. Once the cabinets are installed, it will not be visible (the backing is slightly smaller than the cabinets). As to towel racks, I have only one on an exterior wall, and I can pick up the webs in the ICF with a stud finder. For curtain rods, I am using wood bucks, so I have plenty of backing to screw into. I have seen people use aluminum screen patches behind the sheetrock on the walls where they might want to hang things - basically it just spreads the load out and gives you something a little bigger to hit. Since I can find webs via stud finder, I am not too worried about small stuff (pictures, shelves, towel racks). And then don't forget the drywall anchors for small items either.

For the deck, I will carve a section of ICF foam out and secure a 2x12 ACQ or borate (hard to find borate in large dimensional lumber) ledger plate with Hilti anchors. I will cover this plate with a 1" plywood, bringing my total depth to 2-1/2" or equal to the foam removed. This way, the siding will completely cover my ledger plate, leaving only the joist hangers exposed.

I have not figured out what to do about baseboard trim yet though, (actually if I could eliminate it altogether it wouldn't bother me, as I am trying to achieve a very modern look), although this path has been crossed by others prior to me - there is always construction adhesive.


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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 2/1/2005


I've heard that securing 1"-2" of 1/2" plywood at the bottom of the wall before installing sheetrock above works well to produce a nailing base for baseboards.

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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/1/2005


WATERPROOFING:

My ICF distributor has some stuff @ $1/sf. Sounded high to me. So I started calling around. W.R. Grace makes a peel-n-stick. Google (note: isn't it funny how a proper name becomes a verb?) on Bituthene® System 4000 (below grade).

Or try na.graceconstruction.com/product.cfm

according to their distributor, it should cost around $.45/sf. Also try TAMKO® TW-60 tamko.com.

Thanks for the hint on cutting the drywall short and adding plywood along the bottom. I'll do that instead.


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 2/1/2005


Adding plywood to the top of the wall will also work if you want to install crown molding :)


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/4/2005


Joe,

I just used Grace's Bituthene on my ICF foundation. The product works very well. However, to complete the system, you need to "glue" the seams and edges of the membrane down with Bituthene mastic and then protect the membrane with a drain board (Grace Hyrdoduct) to protect it during backfill. So the full cost will be higher than the $.45 a square foot.

Grace also sells (for a $40 a roll) a double-sided tape to hold the Hydroduct up while you backfill. Don't buy it. Just smear a little mastic and it will hold better.

Also, the best time to put this up is in the cold. The stuff is very sticky. Think human fly paper. In the cold, it's a little less aggressive. Also, you need four people to put it up in long runs. For those who have put up wallpaper, it's like that except you're using flypaper instead. Has to be right the first time.

Lastly, the mastic has a way of getting on everything and it doesn't come off. It's like having twenty three-years-olds come over to have an ice cream party on your new white rug. Somehow, by the end of the party, you will have ice cream on your rug no mater how hard you try.

Co-ed Naked Waterproofing: By the end, you will have this stuff on you and you will need to strip down to your bare essentials to be able to get in your car to go home. Bring the most attractive women you can find for help.

Lastly, the mastic will only adhere on very dry concrete. Don't even try until the footers are bone dry.

Great product...

Peter


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/5/2005


Peter-

My footings are under two inches of ice and snow and sandy water and where I need to apply waterproofing is on the east side of the house. So the sun only hits them from 10 a.m. until 10:15 a,m. I have the Bituthene 4000. They didn't have the 3000 low-temp stuff. The "primer" milk that comes with it... I do not know. The stuff sticks aggressively without it.   

If I have to wait until my footings are "bone dry", then it is April. I cannot wait that long... my garage ties into my house, and those footings can't be poured until this waterproofing is in place. Schedule dictated backfill before April.

As far as the mastic: Is this absolutely necessary? The Bituthene cost me $485, $115 per roll. I need about 8 squares for this walk-out Ranch. If I need the mastic, then I'll take my trophy wife out there with me...


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/5/2005


One other thing... there isn't any concrete for the W.R. Grace mastic to adhere to... it's ICF from the footers up to the roof trusses... any suggestions?
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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/5/2005


Joe,

I feel your pain... I applied my waterproofing only a couple of weeks ago here in New England. My footers were also under snow.

The mastic is an integral part of the process. You need to use it, which means you need to get those footers dry. The mastic will NOT stick to the footers without them being dry. Tried it and it doesn't work.

Unfortunately, concrete is a porous material. Just because you dry the surface, the water will continue to bleed to the top until the core of the concrete is dry. So you need to remove the snow off the top, sides and around the footer. If the footers are sitting in water, you will need to drain the water first. 

I would purchase/rent a (jet) propane heater and focus the output on the footers. Plan for a day just for this process. The good news is the mastic becomes firm in about 45 minutes after you add the catalyst, so it can rain the next day without problem.

The other thing is you will need a BIG drill to mix the mastic with the catalyst. I'm not talking about a drill you use to drive a screw, but a BIG one, like really big. You can rent them, but make sure you don't get the mastic on the rental equipment, because it isn't going to come off. They make special drills for mixing that have high torque and low speed. You will also need a variable-speed drill. You cannot mix the mastic by hand. The vendor you get the mastic from will have a mixer paddle for the drill available for sale ($20). Get one of those too.

One last tip, bring the mastic into your house a day before to let it get warm. Leave it in your truck before using it. Don't let it get cold. I'm told in the old days, they used to pour gas into the 1-gal. mastic cans and light it on fire during the winter months. I would not suggest doing this, but it shows the importance of keeping it warm.

Also, purchase a couple of metal corner (90-degree) trowels and some 2" or so long plastic drywall tools. Bring a box of garbage bags to put the trash in and the tools after you are done. And lastly, you might want to look into Tyvek coveralls if they are cheap. Also, bring paper towel to dry the Bituthene at the seams before applying the mastic. Also, the paper towel is good at wiping off the water and dirt from the top of the footers.

Bring the trophy wife and at least two others to help you get the stuff on the walls. Make sure that everyone wears stuff they want to throw away after this process. Bring mineral spirits and buy a box of latex gloves. Wear the gloves double thick and throw them away as soon as they get mastic on them. Bring a second set of clothes to wear home. Use the trash bags to bag clothes, gloves, mastic lids, etc.

If this stuff touches back on itself, it will not come apart, no matter how hard you try. You need the extra hands to help get it on the wall. 

The whole process is not hard, not too physical, but requires patience and care. In particular, attention to detail is required. Take it slow and remember what my wife says when I attempt this stuff. "Nothing that a professional can't fix". And if you get the mastic or Bituthene in your hair, remember it will grow back in a couple of months.

Peter

P.S. Let us know how it turns out. There are several PDFs on installation instructions at Grace's website. Read twice before installation.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/5/2005


STAYING CLOSE TO BUDGET

How do you stay sane during the building process? I felt so rich going into this. Now I feel so poor. We have run through 1/3 of our loan. There isn't a single check I have written that I can't justify to the bank. I'm not buying marble floors...

What do you do to avoid going crazy? Drinking myself to sleep isn't an option...


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/5/2005


Joe,

Grace sells a water-based and petroleum-based mastic. You want the water-based mastic. The petro-based will melt the ICFs.

You put the mastic at the corner of the footer and ICF's first, and all corners. You put down 8" or so pieces of membrane on top of this. Then you put down the membrane from 1" over the edge of your footer, across the footer and then up the wall onto the ICFs. Then you seal any seams (horizontal and vertical) with the mastic. With particular attention to the seam where the membrane is 1" over on the footing.

You don't need to use the primer with ICFs. The primer is for bare concrete and also is made from petroleum and will melt the ICFs over time.

Grace has a tech note on the subject regarding use of their product with ICFs.

Are you going to use the Hydroduct product? It's nice stuff. I like the horizontal Hydroduct vs. the vertical. Faster to put up. All you need is a linoleum knife to cut it and a piece of plywood.

I don't know if I was clear enough on the mastic. Let me know if you don't get it.

Peter


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/5/2005


Sorry Joe, no drinking allowed unless you budgeted for it. After all, if you didn't plan for it up-front, drinking now will just bring you further out of budget requiring further drinking, spiraling into the "money pit".

I think every O-B should rent the Money Pit movies (both the original and the remake) before the attempting this process.

Peter

P.S. Might have to start a new thread on just how much you need to budget for remedial drinking? LOL...


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/5/2005


Joe,

I just read your post again...

>> The "primer" milk the that comes with it... I do not know.

The primer is for concrete surfaces and NOT FOR ICF's. I don't think you want to use it at all. If I'm right, it is petroleum-based and will melt your ICF's over time. Check on the tech note from Grace regarding ICFs.

I spent a couple of hours cleaning the ICF's, including removing the concrete "cream" that showed up on a couple of joints, before applying the membrane.

The end result was a membrane the enclosed the foundation like a swimming pool liner.   

Peter

P.S. In our area, all the local vendors switch over to low-temp versions during the winter.


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By John in Erie, CO on 2/5/2005


Joe, I feel your pain - I'm getting close to done, and we are going to pretty much hit our budget, but there was some ebb and flow. By the time I had the structure dried in, I was burning money fast. But as I continued, I started coming under budget, and the unders are starting to counter the big overs. I'm assuming you have a budget for each item, i.e. ICF, footings, floors, appliances, trim, etc.? Are you consistently going over on everything? You might need to initiate a corrective steering now to be sure to finish the project if everything is coming in way off of your budget.

If it won't cause problems for your final appraisal, you may be able to leave a couple of rooms unfinished, or downgrade the finish materials, to be sure to complete your project. My plan was to install carpet in a couple of rooms that we had planned wood floors, until everything started coming back into alignment. Now I've recovered most of my overages, and am within the margin of my contingency, starting paint next week. In my case, my budgets were pretty good, but the volatility of steel caught me off guard, and I went over 100% on my structural steel, and 100% on my rebar. Ouch! Good luck. Hang in there!
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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/6/2005


I guess the idea is to literally glue the Bituthene to the footer? If that is the case, then I must wait. All I can do today is shovel slush away from the footer.

Graces primer is latex based, not petroleum based, but I won't use any more of it. My PolySteel guy sells a blue-colored barrier, and they use a milky white primer as well. They hang their barrier vertically, not horizontally.  Their barrier is $1/sf. Grace's works out to about $0.50/sf

My lot is extremely sandy. When we had the flood waters a few months ago, lots 1/4 mile from my house had standing water. I had none at all. This lot drains like a sieve.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/6/2005


The ICF and concrete and rebar and pumper truck cost me $20K.  I also have floor tusses, flooring, windows, basemet floor, load-bearing walls and lots of other misc stuff forr about $30k.

I should be under on my electrical, HVAC and plumbing.  My plumber has been a God-send...

We bought a lot of our electrical "off budget" so to speak.  That helped, too.  And we religiously re-pay the intrest into the account as the bank deducts it. 


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/6/2005


Joe,

You might have a new problem if you have started putting up the membrane.  I think I remember somewhere that you only have a couple of weeks before Grace's product will break down due to sunlight.  Normally not a problem, just put it up and then backfill.

There is also a warning about temps over 130 or so degrees (i.e. leaving the membrane in direct sunlight). 

But, if you are waiting for weather to clear or additional concrete work, you should look into it and maybe put up tarps to block out sun?

Peter 


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/7/2005


Good discussion on membrane-type waterproofing products - look what happens when I am working on my house and don't have time to check the computer.

My ICF subcontractors used a rubber roll-on type waterproofing. They swear by this stuff - I will check the packaging (it comes in 5-gallon cans) when I get back out there and post what it is. This stuff is thick and goes on like plaster or stucco; they use a trowel to spread it over the surface.

I also looked at dimple board (Platon is fairly common around here for ICF, systemplaton.com). I tend to think that these systems are not really waterproofing, but backup that provide a way for the water next to your foundation to drain away. If you combine a membrane or roll-on type waterproofing with a drainage-type system, I don't think you can really go wrong.  For the drainage-type waterproofing, I spread 120 tons of 3/4" clean crushed limestone with a 4" perforated sewer pipe (not the typical flexible black plastic drainage tile) to create a French drain around my entire house (I have a walkout basement, the drainage is daylighted about 4' down elevation in my backyard). This provided about 3' of crushed stone around my entire foundation (around here, a sump pump system usually has about 3-4" above the drainage tile). Cheap insurance.

As to staying on budget - good luck. Prices go up, prices come down, hopefully there will be some balance, although I have found more material prices going up than coming down. One of the hardest issues affecting our budget is upgrading materials and options - when we bid items we were frequently not aware of these options - and while good value, it doesn't take much "a couple of hundred dollars here, another hundred there") before you start getting into some serious money. Our bank still thinks we will come in under budget though, although I think we will be extremely close.

One thing that helped, never quit shopping for materials, suppliers, and subcontractors - many of our suppliers or subs are not what we turned in with our loan information (we had to have bids for all major work packages). For example, we found great tile on closeout for extremely low prices, and we agreed to take all remaining tile (bathroom floor tile for $.25/s.f., kitchen backsplash tile for <$.50/s.f., floor tile for other areas for $.65/s.f., all in the $4-$6 price range before closeout - whatever we don't use goes to Habitat for Humanity for a tax deduction).


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/8/2005


We backfilled today. Looks great. We will need about xx yards of fill, translation: $1,000.

 

I didn't budget for that...


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 2/8/2005


One other thing: My framer laid the waterproofing. Horizontally. We didn't glue it to the footer with mastic. This house lies on beach sand. Although I am very conservative, going to all that extra expense seemed like "gilding the lily". Also, we covered where we didn't use the Grace stuff in 8-mil plastic.  Seems to me that you can spend $ forever "protecting" yourself. This house is very well drained. I used the 4" black polyethylene stuff in a sock around the footer. The roof drains will be vented separately out the back.


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By Susan in Twinsburg, OH on 2/13/2006


Greetings Gregory,

How is your project progressing? We are also in NE Ohio and are doing our ICF homework for a future O-B home. What block did you decide on? What heating system?


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By Hemant in Harrisburg, PA on 12/29/2006


Dear friends and fellow concretophiles,

I'm a prospective homeowner who dreams of owning a concrete home.

Is there a specific reason why information on concrete/ICF builders or contractors is so sketchy an hard to find, especially for the central PA region (in and around Harrisburg)?

Is ICF construction not very popular in PA and hereabouts? Does the weather have any part to play in it? Is concrete/ICF construction more conducive to warmer climates, by default? Are there any pitfalls associated with building concrete homes in colder regions?

Please feel free to answer my rudimentary questions, even if they're based on your gut feel. (Scientific justification not required.)

Please share your personal experience if any of you have also felt similar frustration with locating resources in your own area.


Thanks

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By John in Erie, CO on 12/29/2006


If I had to choose an ICF product, I'd pick the Nudura ICF again in a second, since I installed them myself. I think it's all-around the best form for installation, plus slightly (1/8", which is minuscule) thicker foam, easy instant assembly, and lower shipping that most other forms, but they are all pretty much the same. 

Owner-builders tend to overthink everything, from my historical perspective. Most ICF's are concrete and foam. With a good installer, they all pretty much look the same. Better forms can compensate for an inexperienced or lazy installer.

I think you probably find fewer installers because it takes a lot more effort to learn than, say, conventional framing. With fewer installers, the seedy ones seem to be the norm, but with other trades, such as framing or conventional foundations, there are just enough decent guys to dilute the bad ones and make it seem more legitimate. 

Also, you'll find fewer installers because it costs more than conventional building most of the time, and most people won't pay extra for it, period. You'll find the EXACT same problem finding SIP installers; we had a lot of framers bid my parents SIP house way high because they didn't want to bother with something different. With a higher install cost, there is a smaller market, and thus, fewer installers.

I don't think ICF has anything to do with the weather - In fact, from my in-wall telemetry, ICF's perform best where you get temperature swings, and are probably better in slightly heat-intensive environments rather than cooling environments. I know ICF's are really popular in Canada. Mine in Colorado are amazing.

I don't think the lack of ICF installers is related to the weather per se, but probably more typical construction for the area, and construction prices.

Regions where concrete is more expensive will have less ICF, too... I've seen ICF's dry up a lot around here when concrete went from $61 to $110/yard.

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By Arnold in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/30/2006


My opinion:

It doesn't really matter.

ICF's are a commodity and a type of wall. It's like 2x6 or SIP construction. Individual brands try to distinguish themselves as better/cheaper/easier etc...

I think you'll be better off getting the cheapest one and bracing the hell out of it for the pour.

Who knows what brand of wood you used inside your walls? Who cares what brand of ICF you used in your walls? The big deal is that you used ICF.

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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 1/2/2007


I tend to agree with Arnold.  I built a PolySteel ICF home in 2005. 1,800 sf plus basement. Temp swings are not noticed. We used a 47K Btu furnace, which is small for that size of house in northern Indiana. Here are the pluses and minuses, based on my experience building one ICF home:

  • Large R-value translates into lower heating/cooling bills, but it will take 15+ years to repay the up-front investment.
  • Quiet
  • Sturdy as a rock - literally.
  • Deep window wells look great.
  • Pride of ownership
  • Masonry home lowers insurance costs.
  • Quick temp. changes outside (typical in Indiana) are totally unnoticed.
  • Smaller, less expensive furnace/AC required.
  • Walls will never, ever leak air or water.

minuses:

  • Costs more
  • Pumper trucks weren't factored into cost of building (two pours @ $750 each)
  • Concrete went from $68/yd. to $73/yd.
  • Concrete trucks tear up your and your neighbors' yards.
  • Takes longer to build, block by block...
  • Potential of blowouts during pour--we had lots on the basement.  None on the upper floor because we were more careful
  • Putting up the bracing and tearing it down is a real pain in the neck.  SLOW...
  • ALL holes and pass-throughs must be thought out in advance unless you own a VERY BIG hammer drill. 
  • Drywallers HATED it--finding the metal studs was a problem for them.
  • Siding guys HATED it - same as above.
  • Electrical guys dealt with it OK.
  • As much as you try, walls will never be perfectly plumb, straight and true
  • Deep window wells translate into higher trim costs. Our walls are 12" thick. More trim required.
  • Contractors are totally unfamiliar with it (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, siding, drywallers). You must do A LOT of hand-holding
  • Window bucks must be right on and properly braced.
  • When the concrete dries and shrinks, it pulls away from the window bucks, so they need to be properly caulked and flashed.
  • Dealing with the leftover partial blocks is a pain. Burning them is a mess. That's what I did.
  • Cutting the blocks to size is a pain.

Building with ICF costs more and takes more time (interest monies build up). 


I think I did it out of ego. So it's really up to you. I might do the basement in ICF again, but certainly not the top floor. But in ANY EVENT, I would use ICF block for the frost walls 36" below ground. It's so easy and no forms are required--just set the block and pour. As for the house, cheaper would be to use 2x10's for the upper walls. But if there ever is a tornado, I know right where I would want to be...

Hope this helps.


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By John in Erie, CO on 1/2/2007


I would second some of what Joe said:
    -Costs more - in materials, time, and interest.
    -Deep windows/doors require more $$ to finish.
    -Bracing is critical.

But, my experience on several of the items was probably better than Joe's.

I used VBUCK for my window/door bucks and didn't have any problems with pulling away of the window bucks. I've never seen problems with wood either, but the wood ones I saw had lag bolts run through the bucks for the concrete to form around.

My basement had one small wave in a wall because I was pouring a 12' wall and only had 10' bracing for the pour. Of the 350 linear feet of basement wall, the only wave in the entire thing was about 1/2" on a 2' high by 8' long section. I was able to rasp the foam and adjust for it in the framing. On the main level, I had 12' bracing, and everything came out incredible. On my main level, I'm out less than 1/8" over a 65' wall - you can't really do that well with wood framing.

I think some forms are better than others when it comes to straight walls and ease of pouring/lack of blowouts. I have personally never been to a PolySteel pour that didn't blow out. I've never seen a blowout at a Nudura or Quad-Lock pour.

I missed a couple of 8" penetrations, but was able to get them core drilled for $50 per hole, so forgetting penetrations means a big drill, but you can recover.

Most of the stuff I learned to keep walls straight and prevent blowouts, I learned at the Nudura two-day class taught at my local dealer. Without this class, and the almost-daily support of my dealer, it would have been tough.

You definitely don't use ICF for cost, but the same goes for SIPs. My energy bills are virtually nil for a 6,000 sf house ($40/month), and when the wind picks up coming off the foothills, I don't hear it until it crests 50 mph. It is amazing. I'd use ICF again in a second. My only regret was that we had a complex bump-up area, that using ICF would have been more expensive and taken more time because of the large open spans. I framed it, and regret it.

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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/3/2007


Hey John!

Your utility bills are impressive.  That must be an amazingly tight house.  (Do your ears pop when the cat farts?)  I'll be very happy if I can approach that level of efficiency.

I'm in the final stages of HVAC selection.  I had been thinking DX geothermal, but I'm now thinking a mod/con boiler makes more sense.  The thing that's complicating the decision is the difficulty in calculating annual utility costs. 

I've had two reputable heat loss calculations done.  They predicted 65,000 btu/hr and 72,000 btu/hr. 

That's great info for sizing the equipment, but how do I translate that into a yearly fuel consumption?  Do you know? 

If I can't calculate my yearly fuel costs, I'd like to at least compare my circumstances to yours.  Erie, CO and Baltimore, MD appear to have surprisingly similar heating requirements.  (Similar avereage temps and air freezing indexs.)  The trick then is to compare the houses themselves.  What was the predicted heat loss for your home? 

And finally, one more question... Does that $40/month include DHW? 

Thanks for your help, and congrats on building such an efficient house!!

Jon


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/3/2007


As someone who has been on site during many pour operations using several different brands of block, I might be inclined to disagree with this statement.  Some of the blocks are much more stout when it comes to dropping concrete at 150 pcf down into a wall 12' high from the top.

However once the wall is installed, they are all basically the same.  You have a concrete wall, you have rebar, you have insulation on both sides.  I would also recommend extensive bracing, but bracing itself has a cost both in terms of rental and time.

For a subcontract job, select your ICF based on what your subcontractor likes to use.  For a DIY job, select your ICF based on the service after the sale, bracing rental cost, strength of the ICF, and overall cost.


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By John in Erie, CO on 1/3/2007


The $40/month includes DHW.  We are on propane, but our DHW is done via our conventional boiler, with an on-demand sensor - When someone turns on DHW, the boiler starts moving the heating fluid through a heat exchanger instead of the heating system, until the DHW demand is satisfied.  Avoids heating a tank of water, and we can run everything at the same time (Boiler is a 200K Trinity), but technically I'm not running the radiant heat while doing DHW.  However, my radiant heat typically only turns on once a day for a few hours anyway, so I'm not usually depriving myself of heat. :)

I do have a lot of intentional passive solar design which I believe is helping a lot.  I have a lot of south, some east, and some west glass. We are high on a hill, looking east, so we get the sun the instant it comes up.

I was going to do geo, but I think once you start stacking multiple tons of energy efficient systems together, you have a harder time recovering each incremental additional cost.  On my house, I don't think I could recover my investment in geothermal, although the geothermal guy thought I could.  However, he uses software designed around conventional residential stick-frame construction, and SIPs/ICF is quite a bit different.  If you use less energy to heat in the first place because of better insulation, then you won't save as much money with geothermal, and it will take longer to recover the cost.  I'm happy with the conventional boiler, it's still pretty efficient (high 90's I believe, although slightly lower efficiency on propane vs. natural gas).

My parents are building with SIPs right now, so I'm getting to compare my O-B notes on ICF/stick/SIPs (Mine was ICF w/Icynene attic, my friend's was stick with Icynene, and my parents is SIP with Icynene roof). They are doing geothermal and a 10kw solar PV system, so they won't have any utility bills other than the water bill... 

Calculating utility costs is rough at best.  I was guesstimating $65-$70 per month, and it's come in quite a bit lower.  My telemetry system will soon start monitoring actual gas usage if I get a little more time to work on it, which will make utility calculations easy on a per day/condition basis.

My experience has been that the biggest savings come in the spring and fall, when we get 60-80 degree days and 20-degree nights, so the daytime warming of the walls offsets the nighttime temperatures.

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/3/2007


I agree with many of your positive and negative experiences, however I would add a couple of my own.

1) For me, ICF was actually cheaper than sticks. However, lumber prices are down based on what I paid, concrete is up, and steel is roughly the same. I would assume that ICF prices themselves have increased as well.

2) As to lower insurance costs, I asked my agent about this. He explained that I qualify at a lower rate, but then they surcharge the rate based on the cost to replace the house being higher for ICF than for traditional construction. I found insurance costs to be a wash.

3) Energy efficiency - this speaks for itself. My house is also passive solar, so my bills are not directly correlated to anyone else's, even with comparable-size houses.

4) Quiet and solid - there must be some monetary value here, although I wouldn't know how to compute it. Temperature swings, wind, outside weather, everything that affects "normal" construction is completely eliminated.

5) I found that the block stacks pretty quickly, it is bracing and aligning that takes time. On my house, a skilled crew of three could assemble an entire story in five hours; of course they spent the next four days setting up bracing, adjusting to ensure straight walls, plumbing the walls, building walk boards, etc. Compared to removable concrete forms, this is definitely slow. However we had no difficulties during the pour, no blowouts, no floating, no settling, nothing. I attribute this to heavy bracing and gluing every block.

6) I found the drywallers simply looked at the stuff and said "huh, what am I supposed to do with this?" However after I showed them how to find where to screw, and how much holding power a screw had, none of them upcharged me on their bid. My plumber had already worked with ICF; my electrician agreed to do it only after I told him I would cut all the channels for the wire (and once he realized how easy it was he bought his own router); my HVAC tech was familiar with ICF, my sheetrockers didn't care, siding again didn't matter. It took some hand-holding initially, however none of the trades had any difficulty. Your trim carpenter might not be too happy if you didn't consider where to nail your window trim, your baseboard trim, or your crown molding, since polystyrene doesn't have much holding capacity for a finish nail; but there are easy solutions here if you consider them prior to sheetrock.

7) I found that most siding installers don't bid ICF because siding will telegraph every imperfection. The only imperfections in one wall, we were able to trim with a rasp to get perfect. The walls are straight as a string, plumb, and true. The truss fabricator set a template based on the actual structure, I can tell you every angle, every length, based on his CAD rendering, and yes, they are true. Again it is all in the bracing. Brace it heavy and take your time to do it right - this is your single largest labor source for ICF walls.

8) If you sheetrock, wrap your windows. ICF is much nicer than traditional construction and the drywallers don't care and won't charge extra. If you like fully-cased window trim, you will pay extra for your finish carpenter's time and effort for the non-standard wall depth.

9) As far as cutting blocks, I would encourage anyone building with ICF to adjust your plan dimensions to reduce or completely eliminate the amount of blocks that need to be cut. Working with my architect, the plan dimensions almost completely eliminated any block cuts. This makes the ICF stacking go much faster.

If I were building again today, I would definitely consider ICF even at a cost premium based on the concrete. I talked to my ICF subcontractor, and he said he doesn't charge too much more than I paid because he has gone to weaker concrete (mine are all 4,000 psi, he now uses 3,000 psi, the IRC prescriptive tables are based on 2,500 psi) and has trimmed back his steel (I have horizontal steel every 16" o.c., IRC prescriptive tables require only three horizontals, and again with verticals we put in over double the amount of steel required). So given weaker concrete and less steel than I used, he says ICF is still cost effective with sticks (however not cheaper), but that is simply one data point.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 1/4/2007


Thanks for the info, John. 

It seems that you enjoy a lot more solar gain than I can expect. My lot isn't well-oriented for gathering the winter sun. I will have significant thermal mass though, so that should help in the spring and fall.


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By Ben in Galloway Township, NJ on 9/10/2007


Kenneth,

This is all great information. I am just about ready with the drawings, but am having trouble with getting answers regarding the pricing of the ICF walls (I have picked up some pricing information from BuildBlock and Fox Block, but that is about it). I had hoped to use INSUL-DECK for the first and second floors. Do you have experience with that system and its pricing? I found a reseller in Canada that charged $10 per lineal foot, but getting anyone to put a price on the system seems difficult. I would also need engineering work done to determine the footing sizes and the needed concrete thickness. Did you need to get engineering work done for your house?

Finally, do you have a budget that you created for your house and would you be willing to share that with us?

Thanks!

Ben

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 9/11/2007


Ben,

Any pricing estimates I have are well out of date and probably of very little relevance. Concrete prices are different, steel prices are different, labor prices are different; you will find that all construction commodities are somewhat volatile so estimates from three years back have very little comparison to reality today.

You need to find some local installers of ICF and talk to them. If you have some local distributors of ICF, they should be able to guide you toward some installers. I found the material prices to be somewhat constant among the different brands. Obviously the concrete price is fixed as the dimensions are all the same, however some blocks are easier to work with, some installers already have bracing (others rent it), pump prices are variable based on how often the installers need that service; this is where the variables come in. Price of form work (since you found a reseller for INSUL-DECK) is pretty much the cheapest part of the install, it only goes up from there.

If I were looking towards INSUL-DECK, I would take a hard look at SPEEDFLOOR. I think it is more versatile, probably easier to work with, you can get much longer unsupported spans (try working around columns your entire project, not much fun), and the installed price seems to be quite reasonable. However if you have no local installers, you will pay a premium for asking them to learn on your job. Honestly anyone who does flatwork could use either system, if they take the time to mind their details. If you are stuck on ICF forms for your floor work, check out AmDeck from Amvic, but then since I know my Amvic Distributor and used Amvic on my house perhaps I am biased? I am fairly impressed with AmDeck, although I would use SPEEDFLOOR on my next build (many years in the future, probably plenty of different options by then anyway).

Yes, there was some engineering work done on my house. However most of it followed the IRC2000 ICF schedules that were in enforced in my jurisdiction when I did my build, which are all based on the prescriptive method for ICF construction prior to code approval. Suspended concrete slabs do need engineering stamps in my jurisdiction.


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