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Input please. Building with ICF is not possible?


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By P in North, FL on 4/24/2006


I was told that due to the varying heights of my second story roofline and walls, that we cannot build with ICF. I was told that wood frame would be the way to go. I was told that ICF is not possible due to the chopped up nature of the roof, even though the first floor footprint and second floor footprint match.

The way the middle front roof rises above the roof lines on either side, I was told that wood framing would be needed to make the various walls of the roofline meet properly.

Any opinions?


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By P in North, FL on 4/24/2006


Here are the rendered photos. This is what I showed the ICF guy.

 

Thanks


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By Jacklyn in Hillsdale, MI on 4/24/2006


Phil,

Post your question at this website: icfweb.com.

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By P in North, FL on 4/24/2006


I stumbled across them last night. I posted and have gotten the info I needed. It seems that I may need to use SIPs in a few spots. I feel a lot better now that we can still build with ICF if we choose.

Those guys are great over there, just like the people here.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 4/25/2006


Let me get some thoughts down here:

1) The window to the right of the front door, second story. Are you going to have enough header space above the window using ICF? This looks to be minimal height, and depending on your roofing framing choices, may be difficult. 

2) My ICF subcontractor uses corner windows all the time without corner supports. I would think the look with your corner windows would be much cleaner if they wrapped around the corner with no center supports. Since your ICF needs considerable detail anyway, this is something you may want to think about. However you are also limited as to the size of the window when you do it this way, although the limits are greater with ICF than they are with stick construction.

3) I wouldn't think the different roof heights would be much problem, as long as the first floor supporting walls and the second floor supporting walls line up. Think of ICF as Lego blocks, and how you would put them together, you just stack. You don't have to stack all of your Lego blocks the same height; this is no different than ICF. For the flat roof portions, no big deal, just stack that wall higher. My architect drew the plans showing each level of ICF block (my plans are nowhere near as complex as yours), if you have this level of detail it shouldn't be hard for your ICF subcontractor to identify how to stack and brace it.

4) What are you using for your roof framing? For the flat roof and slightly sloped portions, have you looked into SPEEDFLOOR or Hambro? I haven't used either one (I considered SPEEDFLOOR for my house), but it would appear on the surface that a floor system such as these would work well for your flat roof sections. Given your styling (I really like it ;-), I would consider leaving the flooring system exposed from underneath if using either of these systems(not using sheetrock finish).

5) Your ICF subcontractor isn't going to like your arched roof section. Depending on your roof framing here, I would stack the block, mark the arch, and hit it with a reciprocating saw. You need to provide a masonry-based anchoring system cast into the ICF here to secure your roof framing. I would do the same for the sloped sections, stack the ICF higher, use a chalk line to mark your cut, and a reciprocating saw to finish to final height, and then fill as typical. Your rebar placement within the ICF block becomes a bit more of a challenge doing it this way, but I don't see that as insurmountable.

6) You must not get much rain and obviously no snow load. The flat roofs don't bother me, but the roof over the garage will drain back into your house. I like all drainage to go toward the perimeter, but on your house the aesthetics simply wouldn't be as pleasing to pitch that roof the other way.


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By P in North, FL on 4/25/2006


Thanks for the input. As usual, you have excellent insight.

None of the rooflines are flat. They all have at least a small angle. It is difficult to see that in the photos. I have been looking at SPEEDFLOOR. We don't get any snow. We get rain though, but not as much as some parts of Florida.

I have been told that the problem is, with all the angles nooks, some walls won't have anything to rest on below. I was told that I would need steel support below or use SIPs for those parts.

There will definitely be a little tweaking with the exterior.

My partner  still wants ICFs, but she hasn't been nearly as vocal since she pretty much got her way with the house design. :)

I am glad you like the design. I was a bit nervous when my partner was telling me her ideas. She and the architect pulled it off though. She actually took my feelings into account... that probably won't happen again.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 4/25/2006


If some walls don't have anything to rest on below, that will certainly pose a challenge for ICF. One of the first premises of ICF design is that all exterior walls need to line up to form a continuous path to the footers. For some reason, subcontractors don't like to construct suspended concrete walls.

However, my ICF subcontractor Dean, who is my friend, designed his house (actually his ex-wife's house now), with the second story walls not matching up to the first story walls. He has a suspended ICF wall on the second story with roof load, that is completely open underneath. This was done for the sole purpose of dispelling the common myth that ICF walls need to line up.

The suspended wall is designed as a concrete header/beam, bearing on each end. The roof load is evenly distributed across this header/beam at the top. The floor load for the second story is evenly distributed across this beam at the bottom. Obviously the two walls supporting this concrete header/beam are reinforced for the extra point load as well. You won't find this in the IRC2000 code book (standard used at the time he built his house), nor the more recent IRC2003. It definitely takes engineering to back this up. I wish I would have been there to watch the pour, as I imagine underneath the suspended concrete wall was some considerable bracing to support the weight of the wet concrete, not to mention the shock of dropping it from the top of the wall as it was filled with a pump. It has a pretty good amount of steel in this header/beam, but given the depth of the beam (a full story), it isn't as much as you might think.

I saw a website for an Amvic house that was under construction when Hurricane Katrina hit, the house was elevated on piers, the ICF did not bear directly on walls below on that house either. Do a search for "Sundberg and Katrina" and you will find information, although much of it is the same as nbnnews.com/CHBC. This was designed by a structural engineer, and he uses beam walls as well.

You can do it, and it isn't as difficult as most ICF subcontractors would lead you to believe. However most don't have experience doing it, and you will pay extra for their learning curve.


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By P in North, FL on 4/25/2006


Once again, you come through...

Someone just suggested that I use ICF for the bottom and SIPs for the top. What do you think of that?

Or maybe using ICF for everything but the floating walls, and using SIPs for that.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 4/25/2006


As an O-B, I was inexperienced doing residential construction work. However I also know that more subcontractors and more trades leads to more problems for things to go wrong between the trades, mostly due to miscommunication.

Anytime you start combining systems that the subcontractors are not used to combining, you introduce uncertainty. Combining SIPs with ICF, and you introduce uncertainty to both subcontractors, especially on your house where they will be working side-by-side, and they have never done this before (the HVAC tech is used to working beside plumbers and electricians, the ICF subcontractor is not used to a boom truck being on-site lifting SIP into place). This is why ICF subcontractors (around here anyway) like to bring their own excavators and pour their own footings - less uncertainty for them. This is also one reason I have an ICF garage. Why bring in a carpenter to frame the garage when the ICF crew is already on site (and that it was a cost savings is an extra bonus).

The other item I found was that if you start breaking jobs up too small, you get less interest. Would your SIP subcontractor rather undertake an entire SIP house, or would they rather undertake a minor supporting role? I would rather deal with less subcontractors, and larger chunks for each one. O-B is challenging enough, less subcontractors to worry about makes your job simpler. I would rather have a more complex job that can be completed by one trade, even if that means less than ideal use of ICFs or SIPs, just to eliminate an entire subcontractor in a small role.


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By P in North, FL on 4/25/2006


I agree with you, however one of the guys I spoke with has done both SIPs and ICF. He is the one who said it would be easier for me to use SIPs for the floating parts. If I used him, he would be able to do both. He says he likes ICFs the best, though.

I am not too big on splitting up work or looking for extra subs.

I personally am leaning towards getting it engineered to use ICFs for the entire house.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 4/26/2006


As I was thinking about this, is your architect aware of your desire to use ICF construction? If so, and if he provides a design that isn't conducive to ICF construction he isn't really providing the services you need. I had a difficult time finding an architect who had experience with ICF. It isn't that difficult to work with or design to, but there are certain things commonly done with sticks that simply should not be attempted with ICF.

I would like to see some of the interior renderings of your house, please post some more pictures.


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By P in North, FL on 4/26/2006


Our architect was aware of our hope to build with ICF, however my partner told her that design was more important than building with ICF. I haven't spoken to the architect about this, but I think my partner said the architect felt that it could be engineered to use ICF all over. We can go back and change the second floor, but I don't think my partner will go for it. I have to admit that I love the house as is, myself.

I think with proper engineering the entire thing can be done with ICF. I am of the mind that maybe some people didn't want to go through the hassle of doing something different.

I will post more photos when I get them.


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By P in North, FL on 4/26/2006


I did get an updated facade rendering. They added the garage door my partner wants. I like it.
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By reach in Edmonton, AB on 5/2/2018


tell me if your architect aware of your required ICF construction? 


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