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Dennis's Forum Posts: 13

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By Dennis in Bowie, TX on 2/8/2009


There is ample reason to be worried about ICF contractors.  While there are some very good ICF people out there, companies like ARXX/ECO-Block will drop you like a hot rock if their certified installer wrecks your home construction. You could lose everything! Go to skytrax.com/sky for the story!!

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/8/2009


OK, I provide some fault to ECO-Block for recommending this installer. I am a certified ECO-Block installer, yet the one-day class is all it took to become certified.

However, I find the owner more at fault. Never hire a subcontractor, especially one with this major an impact on your finished project, without getting and checking references. Its not like you hired a painter and just need to re-prep walls and repaint; this is major work here. I s'pose the owner feels his obligation is simply to post this on the Internet, they obviously had no responsibility for the failure before?

Fact of the matter, I could purchase many different blocks from many different suppliers. Its not the block itself that caused any failure. From the pictures, I am not sure how many failures there were. I don't see voids, although this would be difficult to photograph without cutting out the ICF. I don't see out-of-plumb, again difficult to see in photographs. Blowouts happen, how you handle them makes all the difference. I see cream coming out from in between blocks, you will get this on every ICF, this is usually cleaned up after the pour.

Actually there are other problems as well; that site isn't terribly easy to navigate. However, I would still point out that the biggest problem was that the owner recognized smaller problems and did nothing (or very little) to actually fix them. Contract of not, there are always provisions to cancel them. Sure you owe time and material, and perhaps a penalty, but you still halt the project anyway.


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By Dennis in Bowie, TX on 2/8/2009


Thanks for your comment Kenneth.

The story is not meant to bash all distributors/installers of ICF, rather it highlights the act of one particular installer/distributor and the careless and misleading attitude of the ECO-Block Management.

The distributor/installer, as described in the story, was a direct referral from ECO-Block with their blessing regarding his ability and experience.

As mentioned, the first indication of a possible problem was brought about by the T-posts. The day that he gathered and used the T-posts I just happened to show up on the site, excited to take photos of progress but shocked by what I found.  He assured us that he would replace them (they were only temporary) and in fact he did.  We learned too late however that he replaced the T-posts with some new T-posts (not in the concrete footing of course) but did not drill and insert rebar as he suggested he would.

During the day of the pour, bracing leaned due to improper setup. There were several blowouts and a lot of  concrete was spilled.  At that point he revealed that he had never actually set up and poured a job as he had claimed and boasted by the structures he showed us, representing them as his work. He was terminated on the spot!

ECO-Block management knew very well that their recommendation included misrepresentation of facts regarding the guy's experience, but when we attempted to contact them they went silent.  The fraudulent distributor was advised by someone to get a release of liability from us. The method he selected to get that release was by the use of fraud and extortion. Who gave them this advice?... Was it ECO-Block? Was it a friend?

When looking for an ICF contractor we tried to do our homework and were shown a lot of good examples by this guy and given a glowing recommendation by ECO-Block... too bad they ALL LIED.

To borrow your phrase, the fact of the matter is:

  • The wall bracing was not properly set up.
  • ICF was removed, and revealed honeycombing in several random areas of the walls.
  • The photos did not even adequately show the gross out-of-plumb, leaning walls.
  • ECO-Block did lie to us about the distributor's experience with ICF.
  • ECO-Block did stonewall us when we reported this problem and questioned their part in it.
To suggest that ECO-Block has NO LIABILITY here is ignorant at best.  We are the only ones who have been held accountable for the lies and deceptions of ECO-Block and the ECO-Block certified distributors/installers.

I hope that you keep up the good work, using whatever product that you have confidence in, however your comment regarding the way we have presented our story will not change the fact that ECO-Block lied to us and will probably do it again to someone else. Remember their Code of Conduct? They sure didn't!
Good Luck

skytrax.com/sky_wp  or  skytrax.com/ICF

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/9/2009


Honeycomb and void are two different things.

I recommend that anyone considering ICF take the installers course, it is minimal investment in your time. While it doesn't "teach" you all the skills necessary to build ICF, it does teach you enough about how to stack, how to brace, and whether the installer you have selected follows the factory installation procedures. The course should be required for everyone thinking of building ICF.

Next up, at one time one of the local Habitat chapters was building ICF. Volunteer on one house, and you learn enough ICF to truly appreciate what it takes. You still don't get to run the stinger or the pump, but at least you help an experienced crew stack, reinforce, glue (I like every joint glued, overkill maybe), brace, straighten, plumb, prep for pump day, pump, consolidate, challenges with getting concrete to flow, deal with a blowout (maybe, they happen but how you deal with it indicates how well prepped you were), etc. Again the experience is invaluable when it comes time to select your own ICF subcontractor.

Absent this opportunity, from the ICF installers course you will meet at least a couple of DIYs and they are more than willing to accept your free labor stacking, bracing, pumping, vibrating, etc.

So for everyone thinking of ICF, take five days of your time to take the installers course (one day), and then take a couple more days actually doing this on someone else's structure. Just view the ICF horror stories on the Internet (this is but one of them), and looking back if the owners had taken this minimal time investment much of the headaches could have been avoided.

I am sorry you have been through this, this certainly doesn't help the image of ICF. However, it is not the fault of the block.


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By william in vancouver, WA on 5/6/2009


I am a franchised dealer in IntegraSpec ICF [www.integraspec.com]. I have seen some horror stories. One project was about a $20,000,000 project where one building was to have a competitor's ICF poured in position by experts out of Florida. They had a contract to finish the walls in 30 days. By my estimation plenty of time. They finished the wall in 135 days. The second building was done by another competitor of ours , they had 16 inch block. The UBC required for the support columns 6 inch rebar... they had to shove it thru the forms to meet the requirements. Our forms are 12 inches high and our interior webs break in half to accommodate 6 inch lays.

I've seen people try to build their own structures without any knowledge on how to do ICF. This has caused banks to shudder on ICF loans. Integraspec does not sell to people that have not been trained in the construction technique of our product. There are also contractors trained  to build with our product. We have projects from one small house to $30,000,000 projects. We feel we are doing our part to save energy sometimes as much as 60% wall loss. Nice talking to you. If you need to talk further identify yourself by ICF.


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By Faye in Marseilles, IL on 5/7/2009


Dennis,


I went through a similar experience with Superior Walls and a contractor they also recommended highly. I ended up settling with Superior Walls and the contractor and 
finished the job myself. I  for one applaud the fact that you have posted your experience on the Internet for anyone with a computer to see. I wish that there had been some posts regarding the contractors I used - it would have made me think twice.
 
Both ICFs and precast foundation systems are a fairly new technology (at least where I live) and it is very difficult to get references. If I had to do it all over again - I would've stuck to a poured in place foundation. I'm sorry that you had to go through this and hope it all works out. 

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By John in Twin Cities, MN on 6/16/2010


(This is my first Post- #1 on this website)
 
"I've seen people try to build their own structures without any knowledge on how to do ICF. This has caused banks to shudder on ICF loans."

Thank you for this post, alerting us to the faulty/shoddy way in which this vendor [ARXX/ECO-Block] assumed/presumed that this person was a craftsman, rather than just a hack. 

I also wish to thank you folks as well, in allaying my fears of thinking I am a bit cuckoo (technical term) for wanting to get some real, 'pay as you go' TRAINING 'hands-on' as an O-B, in the materials I am considering (in my case - SIPs, and ICF variants), BEFORE I build/'play' with constructing my dream home. Because, even though I can afford not to have to go to a bank for financing, (thanks, Dad, RIP) I am not throwing away my money, simply to 'learn on the job'! That is utter insanity, frankly.

That latter mentality ('youse guys don't need no book-learning- jes' grab a hammer, and start pounding') is what has made me before now, think less of what some of my relatives called all 'tradesmen.' And that stereotype was not challenged, until I began to be interested in spec building for myself, (rather than just accepting a 'cookie-cutter' home, as I have done until now...). 

While it may be true that the 'guys in shop class' in HS were not the brightest cards in the deck, a lot (A LOT) has changed since the 1970's. This website, case in point. In short, I need to jettison much of how I viewed this field (and its' practitioners) when I last was 'involved' with new construction (my parent's last home, built 1967!!!!). LOL

So, I  (personally) plan to go to 'SIPs school' to learn more about this element of my 'dream home,' even if I [eventually] decide to hire a contractor to do the work. (Is there anything for 'laymen' re: ICF's like SIPs School?) I'd rather be an informed consumer, rather than a 'pain in the neck.' But, who knows? What if I DO learn a lot? I could be an even WORSE pain in the neck, BECAUSE I know something! he he he...

Seriously, at the very least, I would/could (I hope) be 'one of the guys' on the crew putting up my home, if that's all I can be. I think I can lift/hold a panel or two! At least I could honestly say, "I built this (my) house"... along with some knowledgeable folks...

But the last thing I want to do, is to have my wife mad at me, (or me mad at myself) because I am/remained a neophyte/fool, when it comes to a) building b) construction or c) hands-on skills.

So, the quote above will remind me, I DON'T KNOW IT ALL. And, (in this field at any rate) others know a HECK of a lot MORE than I do... and ALWAYS check references/inspect work done prior to YOUR job.

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By Dennis in Bowie, TX on 6/16/2010


Amen, brother. You are on the right track. It is obvious that we did not cover all the bases or we would have found out, somehow, that this ECO-Block/ARRX contractor was a fraud. This guy, with the help of ECO-Block/ARRX, created a great resume, including finished job sites (too bad it was all a lie).

I know my website ticks off a lot of ICF people who expect me to take equal blame for this disaster, however until you have been tricked/defrauded it is hard to imagine that you are a mark. Heck of a lesson to learn!

In our case these people are not safe from criminal prosecution and are being investigated for fraud, extortion, tortuous interference with contract, blackmail, and fraudulent transfer of assets. I can't wait for the sheriff to go knocking on their door.

For more info about crooks in the ICF building trade please go to our website (http://www.skytrax.com/sky_wp)


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