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ICFs in mid-Will Valley


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Craig's Forum Posts: 1

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By Craig in Corvallis, OR on 2/7/2007


I'm interested in building an ICF house in the Valley. Has anyone in this area done an owner-builder ICF?
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By Josh in Aumsville, OR on 5/20/2007


Craig,

I am owner-building in Aumsville, OR just outside of Salem. You might want to contact Reward Walls; they are an ICF distributor/manufacturer in our area. I have a good friend who is finishing up his 2,800 sq ft. ICF in South Salem and it has been about 15-20% more than a stick-built home.  One of the reasons for that is that a lot of the subs marked up their prices because of their unfamiliarity with ICF.  (I helped him with all of the concrete and stacking work on his ICF as well as many other things). Also the ICF build is just a more expensive product...

I also don't recommend it for multistory homes.  No matter how you reinforce your walls you will have some bulging and windows can get a bit tricky too.  Overall ICF is a great alternative to stick-built homes but it has many limitations. Many of the wall systems are best used for square homes with no more than 6 corners and specific lengths. I would highly recommend using an architect or at least a draftsman with lots of ICF experience with the wall product you intend to use.  I hope this helps...  

Josh


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By Pete in Cannon Beach, OR on 11/21/2008


Seeing as how you don't seem swamped by replies, I volunteer as a novice O-B at the beach. Just completing my house and getting -- I hope -- permanent mortgage in four weeks. Some thoughts: I was saved by the rising price of ocean view property in the Cannon Beach area. It has taken me three years to finish the house, and in that time the appraisal went from $450K to $550K. Interest (because I was slow), high beach labor prices (until recently) and a couple of mistakes put me over budget. I got a lot of support from Polysteel Northwest, but my inexperience was a killer.

Some thoughts: Put as little of your own money in up front as possible. I put in too much of mine and can't get most of it back out now because of my income. (I'm retired.) Build a garage or outbuilding first, or rent or buy a steel freight container. It rains a lot in Oregon, and keeping up with the mud and rust is a needless chore. Do not overestimate how much you can do yourself. I did and it nearly killed me. Not kidding -- I had night terrors over losing every dime, severe depression, etc. Do not underestimate what you can do yourself. At least in this million-dollar beach house area, people were asking an awful lot of money for things like putting up siding, providing windows, etc.

Have beginner-friendly plans for electric and plumbing, assuming that if someone draws you a clear picture, you can do it, or some of it. (Anybody can do black pipe plumbing -- drains and such -- as long as they have a pro plan it. You can run wires and hang lights with a plan, cutting electrician costs.) Consider an expandable plan, building a small house with future add-ons in mind. Who knows, you may end up hating the neighborhood, or the gloom at the beach, and want out. At least you won't have everything tied up and then face a down market. Build right now if you possibly can. The trades people who were hard to find last year have time on their hands now. Many are scared to death, so don't be afraid to ask them to cut their rates. I put a small job on Craig's list, and got calls from out-of-work pros more than 100 miles away. Two years ago I couldn't get a plumber from the next town. Enough?
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By Pete in Cannon Beach, OR on 11/21/2008


Sorry, left out most of the ICF part. I have only been in my house a few weeks, but the vaunted heat savings seems to work. At least the house stays warm a long time between the times the boiler fired up. I regret going with a propane fireplace -- neat, clean and quick to start -- rather than a messy wood stove, which could save a lot of money. I spent way too much on hydronic in-floor radiant heat. The house is so efficient the cost was not, I feel, justified. It really is quiet.

I apparently did not pay close enough attention to bracing and lining up the blocks. I have bulges in most walls, which did not cause much problem with siding but has cost me a lot in the quality of the interior finish, because so many places are out of whack. I did most of the block work with the help of friends and unskilled labor, and got the walls up pretty cheap. The concrete scared off most siding people, and bids were way high. Most of them said the Hardie people were wrong to say you did not need furring between the blocks and the Hardieplank. And I have no idea where the paragraph breaks went in my last post. I like short paragraphs. Good luck.
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By Joe in Hermiston, OR on 12/10/2008


I'm planning an ICF home also and was of the understanding that Hardie Planks DIDN'T require any furring strips or other material between the planks and the ICF. Have I been mislead? Thanks for you help.

Joe


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By Dave in Coarsegold, CA on 12/11/2008


You don't have to have firring strips.  I think Pete's siding guys are not familiar with ICF.  I am planning to screw the siding directly to my ICF webs and I know many others have done the same.  They may be thinking along the lines of nailing the siding, which obviously won't work without firring.  As for the bulging Pete mentions, I've had the same happen to me.  I just completed the ICF phase of my house, which is two story and 27 feet high at the peak.  It was quite a feat.  I also did most of the ICF work myself and over-braced and over-ziptied (according to my ICF distributor), but even that wasn't enough to prevent all bulging.  My main problems were at 90 degree corners and especially at 45 degree corner columns between windows in a bay (which I don't recommend).  There are ways to remedy moderate bulging though by shaving down the foam with large rasps if you need to.  As Josh said, two-story houses are difficult with ICF and bulging can be a problem, but you can do it if you're determined and don't rush things.  I used a schedule of five separate pours to get all the way to the top.  It required more steel and cost more in labor but made the pours much more manageable.

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By Pete in Cannon Beach, OR on 12/11/2008


I think we are talking two different kinds of block. I used Polysteel with the stronger-than-plastic metal strips. And I am withing 1,000 feet of the ocean, and therefore was told to use marine grade stainless steel screws. At least two of the siding bids were from guys who understood this would mean drilling two separate holes – one into the cement siding and another through the strip, and maybe more to locate the strip for sure – for each screw, and that a fair amount of the soft stainless screws would bend or break, and that drill bits would break on the siding. One, looking at the block and the siding, said simply: "You're screwed." They were right. It did take a lot of drilling and broken bits and the ground was littered with bent and broken stainless screws. And it took a long time. I imagine they were thinking they could do two or more stick house siding jobs in the time it would take to do mine, and they would make more money and have more fun with the conventional jobs. So they wanted to screw firring (sorry I spelled it wrong earlier) to the concrete and side with nail guns to speed the job up. They understood Hardie said it was not necessary, but they saw it as more efficient. But I was not sure it would not undo the warranty. On the other hand, most of the siding work was simple and repetitive, and did not require a skilled worker, so I should not have had two $15 an hour framers do it instead of $10 an hour labor. I used temporary help agency labor, and once they go up on ladders (actually pump jack scaffolds) the insurance goes up. So if it ever came up again, I would either not use Hardie or I would use firring. BTW: 5 pours just for walls? Pumps each time? What did that add to the budget?
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By Ross in Hillsboro, OR on 12/12/2008


I don't think furring strips are required. On my project we are going with a "rain screen" approach to siding installation which provides a breathing space between the siding and the house which prevents mold/moisture accumulation. Look up Core-A-Vent and rain screens. This is a new installation approach to siding a home. My Architect suggested it, but indicated many builders resist doing it as it does require additional labor for the furring strips.
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By Dave in Coarsegold, CA on 12/13/2008


You're right Pete, I used Logix blocks that have plastic webs.  I hadn't considered the extra work metal webs would require.  I can't see firring out walls that are already at least 13 inches thick though.

As for the five pours, I suppose someone could technically have done it in three, though I sure would never have tried it.  It would have made the floor ledgers, beams and openings very difficult to pull off.  I could have combined the last two pours for a total of four but decided to do the gables after the 2nd floor walls were finished.  As for pump costs, if I had used a boom pump the extra pours would have killed my budget, but we used a line pump so it wasn't too bad.  It cost about $250 per pour on average.  There was extra time in moving and resetting bracing (I did it myself) and a little extra bracing rental.  I had help for each pour, so there would be some extra labor cost there but it wasn't more than I was willing to spend for peace of mind during the pours.

Framers for $15 per hour?  That would be a steal down here.  Cheapest labor I can get for anyone who knows anything about building is $20 per hour.  And that's because it's slow now.

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