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By David in Ocoee, FL on 8/21/2006


Hey folks, I just realized something as I was poking around this forum.  It was one year ago yesterday that Jason and Cara first created the “Looking for contractor-consultant in Orlando” thread. They deserve a big round of applause. They have put in countless hours of research and put all that information out there for all of us to benefit from. Way to go, Cara and Jason!


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 8/22/2006


Wow it really has been a year. Time is flying by.

I have good news for everyone. HD wants to make a deal.

We ordered our windows, SGDs, and some exterior doors. We did this at Home Depot. We will no longer work with anyone but the Pro Desk. I have met some of the higher-ups on the food chain that work there and these are the people you need to be dealing with.

I went in there only after I set up a meeting with the Pro Desk manager. When I showed up I had my plans, my personal takeoffs, and lots of printed bids from other suppliers - lumber warehouses, etc. We talked for a good bit of time and I discussed exactly what I wanted out of HD. I let them know that we are serious and we will not hesitate to take our business to anyone else who can make things happen for the price we know we should pay. The thick, organized binder I had emphasized this!

I knew that I would be purchasing windows from them no matter what because this is what I had spec'd to permitting when I went in there, but they did not know this. I played hardball. I asked for every reasonable discount possible and let them know I want to buy now if they can 'help' me with this.

Needless to say, discounts, whole-order discounts started stacking up. While I was in the main office sitting down talking the them, I was glancing around the room. I was looking at their productivity boards. They are in the RED - big time. I smiled inside because I know this means they will bend for business.

After we assembled my completely custom window list, I told him what I wanted to purchase and showed him how other places are killing their prices on interior and exterior doors. Yes, I used these words "They are killing you all on prices. I don't need to buy anything else from HD because you can not compete with what they will do for me... look at these prices they gave me in writing."

Next thing you know, I was told that they will not even look at the price that HD sells materials for. They will beat any price I am offered, no matter the cost - and they did.  I let them know I will be back to purchase lots more. They are excited, I am excited. This is a relationship I am going to enjoy.

I would have to say, that I walked out of there after all our incentives were added up, paying at around 20% less including taxes and delivery than what we were originally quoted from HD. There is no way any other business would have tried to beat the deal we just landed. I am sure they still made profit on me - they just had to smack-down the profit-margin to get my business. If it had not been that HD, I am sure another one would have.

Thousands have been left in our pocket due to one minimal, in perspective, transaction. I can not wait to see how much more we can cut!

I am a fan of the Big Orange Square again, although I would not jump back into their stock anytime soon. The lesson to be learned here is whatever supply house you deal with, be prepared, be fair, and conduct your business like you matter - because you do.

Jason



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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/2/2006


Well the roof has been a so and so (master bath, front corner), but I think we are almost there. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Together with suggestions on how to get a PDF to show on our construction journal, or is it stictly photos and jpegs only?

Lisa


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 9/5/2006


Major Update

Our website OBHomesite.com has had a big picture update this morning. About 250 of them or so. I have not gotten around to doing write-ups for each process in a more journalistic style, but the pictures will suffice for now.

The topics the pictures cover are: grading, installing form boards, rough plumbing and electric, footer digging, rebar, vapor barrier,  foundation pour, and exterior solid wall prep for lintel inspection.

Due to the holiday and a very weak named storm, we will NOT be pouring on Wednesday.We are waiting on our lintel inspection before we can proceed with installing the wall forms. Wednesday and Thursday they should be installing these. This process will be cooler than the actual pour itself. It is like a giant set of Legos. The wall pour looks like it is going to happen either late Thursday or Friday morning of this week. I will most likely push for Friday. Cara or I will keep an update on this.

So far our experience with SWS and Space Coast Truss has been pleasant. This is a huge relief thus far, as they are where the bulk of our funds are going. They really make things happen when they say they will. The only subs we have had problems with so far has been the surveyors - all three of them in their unique sort of way.

Jason



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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/10/2006


I've just found some info that could be useful to O-Bs.  It is about water control management for stucco exterior finishes.  It's very simple, basically using two layers of housewrap as opposed to one.  The pictures of the deteriorating housewrap due to moisture are compelling, if only one is used.  I attached a link to HGTV which has a brief video explaining this.  Ths standard is one layer, so it might be worth taking a look-see.  Click on "Improved Stucco Systems."

Lisa

hgtvpro.com


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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 9/10/2006


Has anyone looked into, used or heard anything about Versastone for columns, fire surrounds or window and door surrounds?

versastoneinc.com/

Just came across the site and it looks good, but they are trying to sell it!

Lisa.


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 9/11/2006


Lisa,

If I were concerned about moisture compromising the structural sheathing or members on my house, I would seriously consider using another building system that is impervious to moisture.  Something like pour-in-place or tilt-up solid concrete walls (the best system in every respect), cement skin SIPs (ThermaSave), solid foam/metal truss SIP's (Thermasteel), ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) or AAC (Autoclaved Aerated Concrete).

Part of the beauty of being an O-B is that you get to choose the best system based on your needs and can supervise its installation so that it is done according to manufacturers installation instructions. The video you make reference to shows a wood-framed wall with OSB sheathing.  I cannot think of a more problem prone building system.  This is why I have mentioned the Titanium UDL interwrap.com roof underlayment so many times.  If I am going to put anything on an OSB roof or wall, it is going to be the best the market has to offer.  I personally, am going to forgo all wood and stick with galvanized steel, EPS foam, cementboard siding and paperless drywall.


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 9/11/2006


Lisa,

If you liked the Versastone web site, you are going to love this cast stone web site: coronado.com.  Coronado has a huge selection. Here is another one: texasstone.ca.

There are dozens of web sites selling every conceivable type of architectural detail in cast stone, EPS foam and urethane. I have always thought that architectural details are what makes a $200,000 home look like a $400,000 home instead of a $100,000 home (barn). Window and door surrounds, cap tiles, stone pavers, urethane or cement board eaves and facia boards instead of aluminum, shutters, etc. 


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 9/11/2006


Jason,

When I was trying to work with Orange County EPD, the more questions I asked, the stupider (is stupider a word?) Sheldon seemed to become. I never got a straight answer from any of them. When I spoke to the manager of the department, the only thing she had to offer was that I would have to talk to Sheldon, and that they knew what they were doing. It took them forever to return my calls, and when Sheldon did, he mumbled a few things that only an environmental scientist would understand. I asked about mitigation time and time again, and Sheldon never gave me a straight answer. He would only say that I would have to deed over my land to Orange County. Needless to say, I told him to blow it out his *ss. I got frustrated, gave up and sold the property. 

Jason, if you were able to get a good grasp on it all, I applaud you. I found the experience to be the most frustrating in my life. I could not get any environmental lawyers to return my calls. Having said all that, I still think that it would have been really cool to have my own personal wetlands in my own backyard. Oh well, I am going to have to settle for 3/4 acre, high and dry (elevation 98') in Tallahassee next to a lake 12 miles long. 

Speaking of Leon County, the permit fee is $800 total. There is no impact fee there. Only four-lane, toll-free roads with grass medians running in all directions and schools with no portables. Does it sound like I love Tallahassee?


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 9/11/2006


Mr. Moderator,

I am laughing right now after reading your post about EPD. I am surprised you actually got a call from him. You know, the man, the myth, the legend. 

The entire Orange County EPD department, in my opinion, is mythological. I am not so sure it even exists to this day. Yes, I have seen it with my own eyes, even breathed the same air they breathe. There really are people in the building, walking around and talking, laughing and even shuffling papers but nothing seems to transpire. Now that I think about it, I never did see them ACTUALLY pick up a phone when it rang. I remember everyone just exchanging gazes with each other... almost like the sound frightened them. It all makes sense now.

I  liken my experience to the quote from the movie "Office Space." I wanted to ask each one of them, "So what exactly DO you do here? Ummmmm yaaaaaa, riiiiiiiiiiiight."

While waiting an unnecessarily long amount of time, I did get a chance however to read through their 152 page employee handbook that one of them carelessly left laying around. After I got to page five I realized the next 147 pages would be an easy read. It just repeated the same lines of text over and over:  

       "Deny everything. Tell them you do not know about that, you will have to ask a manager. If they are persistent, tell them you will get back in touch with them as soon as possible. If they call back when you never get back in touch with them, they will only be able to leave a voice mail. NEVER PICK UP THE PHONE. Dump the voice mails at the end of each business day. Repeat cycle."  

In my experience, I have found that they are not people persons.When asked a question, there will be an uncomfortably long pause, sometimes it lasted for minutes, followed by a low whisper, "you must speak with Mr. Roupp," almost like it was something covert and I was actually let into their society. Apparently, as I have found out, he really is the key-holder to the universe. But don't tell anyone, I have sworn my life on this information. For those who want more secret info into this society, check out our website and click the section labeled "Mitigation."

Hopefully you will never have to experience this pure joy.

Jason


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By Julie on 9/12/2006


David, Lisa, and whoever else is interested in stone...

We purchased fabricated stone from a Tejas Textured Stone supplier here in town. We are very happy with the product and the supplier. His name is Brian and the phone number is 407-832-0022. He has a lot of it in stock and a pallet cost about $800. A picture of what we've got done so far is attached. There is only a little bit left that should finish most of the section we have already started, to give you an idea of how much a pallet will cover, since I can't remember the square footage right now. What you see on the front of the house that is still gray will also get the rock. We are also putting it on the bases of the 6 columns we have on the back porch. 

Julie


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By Julie on 9/12/2006


Jason,

I would love to know two things: which location did you deal with and to whom have you been speaking to? Our experience as of late, even after insisting to my husband to not by ANYTHING from HD, has been an entire nightmare. Even the management and corporate office is full of IDIOTS! They have now put us a month behind schedule and I am NOT HAPPY! It took us a week to give them $14K. We were trying to spend money with them! Go figure. Any guidance you can provide into whom you actually spoke to with a brain cell would be much appreciated.

Julie


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 9/12/2006


Julie,

The house looks great.  Architectural details make all the difference. I love your arch-top windows and the details above them. I must say that your house is just screaming out for stone-coated metal roof tiles gerardusa.com. Perhaps in 10-15 years when you replace your roof, you may want to consider something like this.

Gerard Tile


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 9/13/2006


Julie-

If you are going to be out and about at your property, I might swing by there today to talk shop. We have our trusses going up in about a half hour. We are going to do some stonework as well. I have talked to a few reps for Eldorado Stone but have not got a price yet. $800 a pallet seems resonable. It looks so nice. We are planning on covering our whole front, but only about three to four feet high off the ground. So I might need only three pallets or so.

We frequent the Alafaya HD most often. Angel is the guy at the Pro Desk that helped us out. If you go to the Oviedo one, the guy to speak to there is Elmer at the Pro Desk. I can go into detail with you more, if we meet up, on how we are able to get the deals all the time.

Jason

 


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By Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 9/16/2006


Jason,

What is the average wind for your area, and how did you come up with it?  I am just beginning to build on four acres just north of Ocala, and I was thinking of solar too.  A windmill would be great!  How do I find out if I have enough wind?
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By Robert in Reno, NV on 9/16/2006


Brian and Jason,

A good solar resource for current solar, real-life appplications is a bi-monthly periodical called Home Power. homepower.com.  

Bob

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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 9/17/2006


Anemometer

Well, you can build an anemometer pretty simply and get semi-close results as to what type of wind you are getting. The only problem with this type of cheap design, is that you will be measuring wind very close to the ground in relation to the wind passing through a tall windmill, and you will have to formulate your own method of converting this to MPH. If you set up to take your readings on a two-story roof or taller, or a ranger tower being that you are out in Ocala, you will get better results. Wind moves faster at altitude due to less obstruction.

The local news/underground weather web sites generally have wind speeds posted on a regular basis but not of your exact 'proposed' wind powered site.

An engineer will provide the most accurate answer.

The coolest thing I have heard done, is someone wiring their home for lots of 12 volt lights/appliances. It was a cabin located in a wooded and desolate area. It was solar powered with a small standby generator, if needed. This brings energy savings to a whole new level. In the future, I am willing to bet that 110v will be decreased and low voltage will become the norm to power most things in houses. They design many items that we use today like this - they just label it RV or camp gear.  

Jason


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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 10/1/2006


David,

Apologies for the delay in replying, we are in the middle of bids and it is really heavy going. Plus, we lost our hard drive two weeks ago and so all my preparation, work budgets, etc. are gone.  I have them printed out, so am busy, busy retyping them.  We have sent our HD to two companies for retrieval of data, unsuccessfully, and are waiting on Drivesavers, as the head smashed into the plate scratching it.  They are going to re-coat it and see if they can get anything.  That said, I am more concerned about the last two years of photos which are irreplaceable.  It could not have happened at a worse time.  I should have learned about backing it up myself, and not have left it to my hubby as it is his area, who despite being reminded since we went digital with the camera, never got around to it.  Needless to say, we are absolutely gutted.

Anyway, what I am concerned about is that no one seems to have heard of having a "Damp-Proof Course" (DPC).  All walls, including poured concrete, etc. are susceptible to penetration by water.  In fact concrete is porous and water can rise through it by "capillary action".  This has been known for decades, if not centuries, in Europe.  Having grown up in two 400-year old barns/houses where it was never a problem, and student accommodation where the lack or failing of it has caused what's known as "rising damp" and mold.  In fact, if a house does not have a damp proof course in the UK or one that has been compromised, you'd have a hard job selling it.  Once the walls get damp it obviously will affect the framing, which provides a food source. Although rain has so many contaminants these days, a degree of food is brought as a picnic, so to speak.  Mold needs just three things to grow, water (Florida-tick), heat (Florida-tick), and a food source (Florida-tick).  A Damp Proof Course is just a layer of (usually) bitumen which prevents water from rising.   wikipedia.org/wiki/Damp-proof_course. It is assumed you will always have some water content in you walls, and a  DPC simply stops it usually in the lower two feet.  One builder thought it only happens if you are in standing water, not so.

I have spoken with a diamond of a man and mine of information, Kenny at SWS during the bids (especially when it comes to HVAC), and need to speak to the stucco guys about this.  SWS put a coating on the poured walls and he thinks a DPC would be cost-prohibitive.  Maybe it is because it is not the norm here, maybe (and quite likely)  I am worrying about nothing and will type more once I have spoken with the stucco guys. But, I have lived in my student days in too many damp riddled places, it makes you ill, frankly, and I never want to go back to that. 

Thank you for your link to Titanium PSU Wrap, I have not looked into this yet, on the ever-growing “to do” list, but I remember you recommending PinkWrap awhile back.  Are you going to use one on the roof and one on the walls or just go with the Titanium PSU Wrap? And have you changed your mind regarding PinkWrap?

I am presently getting bids on practically every wall system.  SWS have come in very competitive, however, the cost of doing the second-floor bonus room is equivalent to two-thirds of the first-floor cost. Even then, it may prove interesting engineering-wise with the stairs, plus they would have to frame out the balcony.  So I am getting it priced all being framed and insulated, then (probably a daft idea), of mixing and matching wall systems. Poured walls for the first floor, then SIPs for the bonus room?  I have put this to Valubuild, and am hopefully getting it priced out. 

Now I know you mentioned at the start of this thread that you thought Expanded Polystyrene (ESP) was "crap" compared with Polyurethane, and having read the data in those links I can understand why.  But on a further look at the companies you have been looking into, Thermasave and Thermasteel, according to their websites they both use EPS.  So have you changed you mind, or is it cost-related or is it just damn difficult because SIPs using EPS dominate the web, compared with Polyurethane SIPs.  I asked Valubuild how there product would stand up to impact in the 2 x 6 test at 200 mph and got a stony silence, but they are getting back to me on that one.  Reading the stuff with EPS SIPs, we still need house wrap (at least it is recommended).  I think I confused the hell out of them contemplating two wall systems, however, if it proves an economical way to go and SIPs usually being attached to a concrete monolithic slab, why can't they be attached to concrete walls? I know I am learning, but if you don't ask the questions you'll never learn.

I have approached four bids for HVAC and it’s Kenny at SWS who points out the A/C cannot be in the garage, as did an electric company, who wanted it in the bonus room but that'll not fly either as per Kenny who was talking an amazing amount of sense.  None of the HVAC guys have got back to me, but on talking to them initially and quoting that Trane and American Standard are one and the same (well at least similar), the word "dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" was just said, so who knows, maybe I'll hear this week, I'm not chasing anyone at the moment, as still to much to follow through. 

Jason,

From what I understand you are getting an Elite System Trane XL19i but even Kenny thought that very expensive.  From what I can gather, you are in that game or at least know what you are talking about.  Apparently your system cost is approx. $4,500, so that’s >$10,000 for fitting, duct work etc.  He guessed you are having lots of extras like HEPA filters, are you?  He also advised we request "complete all-rigid main trunk line-supply with flexible branches, the returns can be flexible and a return from every room."  Plus, not to go with a zoned system (expensive), but recommended for the bonus room a ductless "Mini-Split" by Mitsubishi.  And not accept anyone who tries to fob us off with one system will do it all.  He explained everything and it made perfect sense to me.  Plus, he was not trying to sell me anything so I did not feel there was an angle.  Not that I ever did, this bloke came across from the word go as truly genuine.  Even if his attempted UK accent sucks!  Plus we Brits can be very sarcastic, in a nice way of course, and it's great to have that banter again.  I have been lucky enough in my calls to come across several really great people and professionals, who you just get a good feeling about.  Time will tell, but I am not being cynical.

Re: Solar power - those looking into it may be interested in a site I came across, in particular I reference a Floridian house built just south of Jacksonville.  See links below:

builditsolar.com/Projects/SolarHomes/ididitps.htm                                     phys.ufl.edu/~liz/power.html

Many apologies for this long blog, if I don't hit it today I won't, as all week is taken up with bids.

Many thanks to all whose blogs who have proved invaluable, it is paying off to a greater degree now through bids.

Take care,

Lisa.

 


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By Jim in Beverly Beach, FL on 10/1/2006


Lisa,

Thanks for bringing up the question about zoning of AC. Our home will be about 2,500 sq. ft. of conditioned space. We like to keep the bedroom cool at night when we sleep. At our present home, we have a seperate compressor and condenser/air handler that supplies master bath, master walk in closet and master bath. We love being able to keep our quarters cool (or warm) without paying for the rest of the house being cooled or heated. We would like to avoid the cost of a second unit in this downsizer FL home, I thought that zoning would be just the ticket. Anyone else have any comments on zoning?

PS. About damp-proofing and capillary moisture prevention, see the attached PDF from a great book Builder's Guide to Hot-Humid Climates. The Book is available at buildingscience.com. This particular page is about masronry walls but I would think that concerete would be handled similarly.

Jim

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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 10/1/2006


Lisa,

I am not sure of what the unit itself costs. What I do know is it is probably one of the most expensive systems out there. It has twin compressors built in so it can conserve energy when allowed. Our system is also integrated with the Trane Clean Effects whole house filtration,  a whole house energy recovering ventilation system, and some sort of dehumidifying equipment.

You might not need all of those extras which are very $$$$. But since our house was designed so tight with "sealed everything," we have no source of air exchange, which complicates matters. We have vents in every room and the engineering of the system is like 30 pages long. I can imagine a good chunk of change went into that. The ducting is not cheap and all fans for the bathrooms and ventilation throughout the house are installed by HVAC.

My brother-in-law is head of commercial sales for the company. He assured me that our system, even being $14.5 K, was a few thousand under what someone else would pay. To be honest, we did not even get a bid from another company on our HVAC.  I will try and get a line item for this and see exactly how much the overhead is costing and share it with you.

As far as you saying you cannot put an A/C (air handler) in the garage....I am confused. Do you mean trying to A/C the garage or just install it there? Our air handler is going in the sealed attic just above our garage.

Roof

We are almost dried in. We ended up going with 30-pound felt and 50-year Certian Teed shingles. They are the Landmark TL series and are triple layered so they will have a real present architectural look. We were going to go with a black or dark gray roof but changed our minds at the last minute. I started thinking about how hot it was going to get with a darker color. CertianTeed We ended up going with the color "Weathered Wood" which hopefully compliments our soon-to-be-determined exterior paint scheme. The higer grade shingles should add significant value to the home and offer a 30 mph more wind protection over the 30-year shingles for a 10% additional cost.

--Jason 


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 10/1/2006


Interior update

Using Cara as scale, one Cara is equal to 5' high.

Here are a few pictures of the finished rough framing of the house. The first picture is the entry way. It has 12' ceilings. The arch extends down two feet. Cara is posing on our bar-top height counters that will be quite formidable when you enter the house.. Notice the soffit that runs the entire length and design of the kitchen bar-top counters. These will have 4- 4" downlights that will be dim-able with a chrome trim ring. This and the bar area are going to be my passion when I start building out the kitchen in about a month.

The second picture shows the house from the great room viewpoint looking back at the bar. This entire area is all open and is also 12' ceilings. Behind Cara is the game room. In a last minute idea, we thought a pass-through from the bar area would be perfect and it turned out very nice. I commend my framers on doing an awesome job. Everything is plumb and level - I checked all the time. Studs are all 16" on center as well.

I will update with better non-blurry pictures of all the recessed lighting that I hung this weekend. It is really coming together quickly now.

Jason 


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By Jeff in Orlando, FL on 10/1/2006


Lisa,

Since you said you were getting bids on all types of wall systems I thought I'd bring up Omnicrete if you haven't already considered it. Conventional block will cost me ~$16,200 for the first floor. SWS quoted me ~$16,600, so I consider that to be a good price since SWS is far superior. I need to consider if it's worth going all the way up to the second floor with SWS due to the higher cost and more engineering. However, Omnicrete is also a consideration of mine. Their system is also a solid wall system, but they lay AAC blocks to sandwich the solid concrete that is to be poured in place. A thermal layer and vapor barrier is also placed between the exterior AAC and what is to be the solid core. What caught my attention is that drywall is eliminated. Initially I thought the interior walls would be too "hard" if it were not covered with drywall, but I paid them a visit last week where they'll show you a cutaway of their wall. The AAC is very similar to drywall once it is textured. Other advantages are that the AAC behaves like wood (no more stud finding - the entire wall is a stud). They claim to be able to beat conventional construction by at least 5% due to the savings in wall insulation and drywall. I'm still waiting on their bid. The only disadvantage I see so far is the extra time it takes to lay the AAC "sandwich," but it would be similar to conventional concrete block. Perhaps others can chime in as to drawbacks that I have not considered.


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 10/1/2006


Jeff,

Good luck with your bid on Omnicrete. If they can beat your conventional costs by 5% then they have reduced their prices significantly. There are some major drawbacks to Omnicrete, and some major pros for it. However, I am half falling asleep at the moment so I can not explain in detail. Once you get your quote and if you are still considering it, you should post further on what you find out.

I have attached a quote I got from Omnicrete so you can know what to expect.

Jason


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By Phillip in Tampa, FL on 10/2/2006


Jim/Lisa,

In the process of bidding out our HVAC work, I talked to the subs about zoning. We initially planned to do a three-zone system, as I work out of the house, and we have a bonus area upstairs which would only be used on the weekend.

The consensus: 10 out of 10 subs said zoning systems are nothing but trouble. Four of them told me that in the 10-20 times they had installed them, they had removed virtually all of them months later. They sound great on paper, but the reality is that in Florida they cause too many problems with condensation, stuck dampers, and other reliability problems. They also tend to "over-cool" rooms where zones are enabled, even with properly sized bypass dampers, and when they fail they fail badly.

It is slightly more expensive for us to just install two systems, but after taking into account the expert opinions I guess that is the way we will go. I am very disappointed, I really liked the idea of a zone system.

Lisa, I'm with Jason, not sure what you mean about the A/C in the garage. Of course the air handler can be in the garage, builders down here do it all the time. It can also be in the attic, provided you have 30" of clearance around it on top and sides (just make sure you get a drip pan installed). Of course, you cannot meet inspection with ducting into the garage, because that would potentially mix poisonous carbon monoxide with house air (they don't want you to "pressurize" your garage, creating a pushing force of air in the garage to air in the house). However, after you move in, you can do what you want - just remember, safety first - a running car in the garage could literally mean death to anyone in the home if you aren't careful. I plan to run ducting into my garage, because I will only be using it as a workshop and will not be parking cars in there... but if I was planning to park my car in there I just don't think I'd feel comfortable taking that chance.


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By Richard in Valparaiso, IN on 10/2/2006


You will find few contractors that know how to zone correctly.  The first thing that has to be done is the HVAC room-by-room load calculations. 

Zoning works great.  I’ve been involved in it for years.  The biggest problem with zoning, is that the installing contractor does not understand it and they don’t know how to size ducts.  Stuck dampers are mostly from trying to force a damper into place where the Pittsburg lock on the duct is in the way.  The installer ends up with the damper and duct out of square.  The complaint they have about over-cooling and humidity problems comes from duct design and undersized bypass without the freeze protection control. 

With the advancement of dual stage equipment and variable speed it’s even better.

I currently have one piece of equipment and three zones.


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/2/2006


Lisa,

Sorry about your hard drive. I actually have 2 hard drives in my computer. I periodically back up all my data from one to the other.

Let me first address this damp proof course thingy, and in fact de-myth it like it were the Loch Ness Monster. First of all, in order for concrete to wick up water, it would need to be standing in water as opposed to being exposed to water vapor. Florida code requires that the top of your slab be a minimum of 8" above grade. The code also requires that the soil be sloped away from the foundation on all sides.  So that the first course of concrete block or your solid concrete wall is at least 8" away from any source of moisture, be it standing water or water vapor. As I already stated, water vapor will not wick up concrete, only standing water, albeit at an extremely slow pace. It is not like a paper towel. 

If water vapor under your slab is a concern to you, please go to this website and read up on the best vapor barrier on the market: http://www.stegoindustries.com/. This product is designed to prevent water of any kind from entering the concrete floor or foundation. Now for a real world example. 2 years ago, I had to break a hole in my mother in laws driveway in order to install a gate post in the middle of it.  This is in Winter Garden, Fl.  The sand and dirt underneath her concrete driveway was completely bone dry like the Sahara desert, yet the grass in her yard was green. How do you explain that?  What causes mold growth in Florida is not wicking, it is improper building techniques. Things like building on top of muck, improper grading and slope, improperly flashed and caulked valleys and windows, untreated cracks in stucco, vapor barriers that are not installed property, vinyl wallpaper, semi gloss paint in bathrooms, oversized or undersized HVAC units, dirty coils, insulation with the vapor barrier facing the exterior, pin hole leaks in plumbing, unvented closets that are located on exterior walls, etc. 

Concerning my choice of building material, I am going with (drum roll, please) Thermasteel and Hardiboard lap siding.  In fact, Will Myers of Lake City, Florida has begun designing this house for me: homeplans.com. Thermasteel is made of EPS and galvanized steel. It is impervious to moisture, as is the wallboard that I will be using on the first floor of my house, DensArmor paperless drywall by Georgia-Pacific. I plan on depriving my mold of two of the food sources that you mentioned. You forgot one key ingredient, oxygen.

I am also using the synthetic underlayment on the roof and peel and stick self healing membrane on the valleys instead of the 18" wide aluminum flashing stuff.  Go here for more info: gaf.com.  Concerning your 2 x 6 test at 200 mph, I know why you got a stony silence when you mentioned that test.  Building materials are tested with a 9-lb 2 x 4 shot from an air cannon at 35 mph (50 feet per second), not a 2 x 6 at 200 mph: insulatingconcretehomes.com, thermatru.com, cement.org, shuttersystems.net

Like I said on one of my first posts, if 2 x 6s are coming at my house at 200 mph, it would not be the 2 x 6 that I would worry about, it would be the four-speed European imports I would worry about. And do I really want to live in an area where my house is the only structure (natural or otherwise) left standing after a category five hurricane?


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/3/2006


Jeff,

Although I am not certain, I would think that it would be more cost effective to have the entire structure made of AAC panels and/or blocks as opposed to AAC that must be braced and then install the steel and then do the solid pour.  Mainstream developers are using the product right here in Florida, because it is cost effective, energy efficient, strong, and can be erected by a regular masonry crew with very little additional training. There are two companies in Florida that manufacture AAC panels and blocks: aerconfl.com, and accoaac.com. Some of the town homes in Avalon Park in Orlando are made of solid AAC panels. 


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By Hugo in Jacksonville, FL on 10/7/2006


Dave,

It was good to talk to you the other day, it's been a long time.  I'm glad you're well.  All, I've known Dave since we were teenagers.  He's highly ethical, intelligent and as this thread shows, extremely knowledgeable.... but I digress.

I'm planning on building within the next couple of years, I've got a couple of questions:

1.  What is the weight bearing characteristics of CFB SIPs?  I assume they are 5/8" thick.  Does it require special fasteners to hang a 160lb. Plasma TV, which typically uses four screws to hang - ditto for hanging kitchen wall cabinets. I understand this applies to exterior walls only.

2.  I know I read in one of your web links (can't remember which) where it was recommended not to use non-vented gas fireplaces in tightly sealed houses. I believe the reason is one of byproducts is high moisture output.  Any comments?

3.  I'm living in Jacksonville, FL. Do you know if Solid Wall Systems is available here, ditto for Thermasave and and ThermaSteel?

Thanks,

Hugo in Jax...

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By Jeff in Orlando, FL on 10/7/2006


I got the Omnicrete bid in this week and the grand total is $101,773.71. This is NOT 5% lower than conventional construction. When I total up the equivalent conventional construction according to my bids, I come up with $78,761.64. My house will be two-story, ~3,200 sq. ft. under roof. Jason, I'm sure you're already aware, but for those who are not - I say "equivalent" because Omnicrete takes care of stucco, insulation, drywall, interior partition walls, and of course the exterior wall, except in my case the second floor partitions cannot be done if I don't re-engineer for the additional weight. So I still have to wood frame the second floor interior partitions. Maybe the 5% savings they're claiming works on some floor plans, but obviously not mine.

Dave,

Thanks for the AAC info - I will check it out.


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/8/2006


Hugo,

It was good to here from you as well after so many years.

If you will go to the Thermasave web site http://www.thermasave.us/, under ICC Accreditation, you will see the Legacy Report that will give you all available data for the ThermaSave CFB SIP panel. If this panel can be used as a header beam for a double car garage, suffice it to say that it will have no problem holding your 160 lb plasma screen (showoff!!).  By the way, Oscar of ThermaSave of Florida holds the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell this panel in Florida. See my earlier post for contact info.

As far as your ventless gas fireplace question, I don't remember posting that information. I may have had one too many Niquill's that day.  In any event, moisture will never be a problem, because by code you must use an ERV (energy recovery ventilator). An ERV together with a well balanced and sized HVAC unit will keep indoor air quality in good shape. Again, see earlier posts or Google "energy recovery ventilator".

Both Thermasave and Thermasteel not only ship to Jacksonville, by the republic of Dubai and parts unknown as well. I imagine that SWS will travel to Jacksonville. It is not that far from Jax.  The only caveat there would be if you are building a 2 story. It requires more steps, hence more trips back and forth to Cocoa.

On a different note; I appreciate your accolades. But the truth is that I was way, way off on some of my earlier posts. That is what this forum is all about. We all learn from each others opinions, successes and mistakes. In my opinion, some of the other contributors deserve a lot more credit than I do for their research efforts and their accuracy rate. In any event, keep up the faith!


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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 10/9/2006


Well I can sort of beat you on that, Jeff I nearly fell off my chair when I got my SIPS bid (Valubuild) in this week.   For the walls including trusses (not SIPS panelled roof, but OSB for the roof, so insulation has still to be paid for!!!!)  I actually laughed at the poor customer service person who returned my call.  For the whole house including the bonus room $114K!!!!!  With SWS the walls will be $21.3K and the Trusses $11.2K.  Thermasave will not be in until Tuesday, but I'm sort of guessing if that is the range forget it.  They were going to offer it at a discount of $91.5K due to someone paying a deposit and not following through so they can shift the panels.  It sort of blurted out "Did they miss one of the zero's, (opps with the tact and diplomacy!!!!)  It was 11k for just the bonus room 2nd floor walls and a truss roof or 25k for the same with a SIP Panel Roof.  Ho Hum as they say.

Jeff, Thanks for that diagram, it explained alot to me and I am alot happier now.  I knew what goes where but not exactly why.

Well I really need some advice regarding wells.  In the main quoted for a 2HP Rock Well 4" or 5 ".  Bids as below"

Waterworks $4K  (4")  All Water $5.3K (5") Ellis Water (See attachment.)  They have major advice which has in fact blown my mind.  Why?  Because I see it as a major sales pitch, but it may be good advice.  One thing I am dubious about is that they are a service as opposed to sales.  They may be very honourable, but once you pay the money the proof is in the pudding so to speak.  All Water said anyone promising water quality is lying!!  But recommended a 5" well as if it is hit by lightning they can put down a 4" casing and the well is still useable.  All Water were recommended by a known local plumber,  Waterworks by Jason and Cara, as Ellis was just a local firm.  I am going to post this on my journal too as anyone with any "well experience" please let me know what you think.  Plus all Septic and Well Bids are saying they must get the Permits when I know several people, being OB's, who do this themselves.  At least it is timely that way. 

All comments very appreciated.  I want to request the trusses this week, so we will make a decision regarding whether we go with the bonus room or not in the next few days.  At the moment the estimated difference is between $20K and that is carpets in and rough plumbing in case we want water up there at a future point.  (Equals between $29 and $31 sq ft.)Remember we are staying 2 years and then possibly doing it again, so we don't want to go mad with the well.

We also need alot of Fill DIrt one quote estimated 100 loads, Finished floor plus 18" FF being level with the road.  He estimated $125 max per 18yd load.  WHAT!!  Jason you got it for $85, who did you use????

David, again thanks for the post, yes I knew about the grade, not worried necessarily about the water vapour, until it condenses, I was probably being unclear, head so full of mish mash.  I have taken on board all you have said and are grateful.  I laughed with your comment about being the only house standing, that said I'm guessing the surrounding land would then be going cheap!!  (Intent is as a joke.)  I have been rereading this thread and apologise you answered one of my questions regarding ESP and polyurethane SIPS in August.  That said there is so much stuff on this great thread alot is retained and some is naturally dumped.

Apologies for the long post again.  Not enough hours in the day. So a post a week presently.  Thank you everyone.

Lisa.

 


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/9/2006


Lisa,

Concerning your choice of walls, please feel free to continue your research. However, practical wisdom and the good experience that Jason has already had with SWS would dictate that SWS is in fact the best choice by far. Price, quality, simplicity, safety, energy efficiency and healthy indoor air quality. My advice would be to forgo any additional research if a solid pour contractor is available in your area and have them do the walls. It is a no-brainer. Between Jason and I and some others on this site, we have spent countless hours researching and calling for quotes. There is no way you will be able to come up with a better overall system than solid poured walls, be it SWS or another one of the firms that I mentioned in my earlier posts. I am sure that if and when Jason chimes in about the money he is going to save on his homeowners insurance, you will be sold on the system.

There is something that I do not understand about the five-foot well-casing theory that you mentioned. If your five-foot well casing develops a crack and you send down a four-foot well-casing in the middle of the five-foot casing, you are still going to have to somehow cap the five-foot sleeve. Failure to do so will most certainly result in muddy, contaminated water following the five-foot casing down and into the water that will be pumped up by the four-foot casing. I have seen it myself with a new two-foot well-casing that was set in rock 6 feet away from a totally separate cracked two-foot well casing that was also set in rock. Even at 6 feet away from the cracked casing we got muddy water until we capped the cracked two-foot casing below the point where it was cracked. My question is: can the space between the four-foot casing and the five-foot casing be effectively capped in a way that will not cause you problems in the future? I personally would be concerned.


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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 10/9/2006


Blimey David, that was a fast response!

Good question I will ask that if we go with All Water.  I forgot to mention our block quote was 18.3K.  So a $3K difference between them and SWS.  So not exactly $400.00 difference as with Jeff. 

I totally agree with you regarding research as I have followed this thread for months now.  But you guys have done a lot of research, I could sit on the back of that and do nothing, but I am not that sort of person and it's always good to do current quotes as one technology may come down drastically and no-one would know about it otherwise.

I would warn anyone using SWS though to approach them directly.  I was approached by Space Coast Truss (ServiceMagic)and they offered to get the other bids for foundation and SWS walls.  I to date still do not have these bids.  Had I not contacted the fab Kenny at SWS I would have felt totally let down.  That said SWS let David have the bids weeks ago and so I felt I had to email Kenny superiors.  They have a protocol, ignore it and deal direct that is my advice.

Copy of email sent and passed to superiors.

Dear Kenny,
FOUNDATION SWS 26135.00   "-------"Masonry   22215.00 + Boom if required 900.00 =  23115.00        Difference      
3020.00
WALLS            SWS  21307.32   "-------"Masonry        18311.00        Difference   2996.32
                                               
                                                6016.32  Grand Total Difference.
I am just including the above figures so you can clearly see the difference, this kind of money would kit out the kitchen nicely.  Even if you cannot bring down the price of the Foundation, please look at the walls, even if by a small margin as we are impressed by the product.  We realize it will be a bit more expensive than block, but not to this degree. 

On a separate note: David Sullivan (Space Coast Truss) has still not got back to us, despite me talking to him yesterday (we were expecting them Thursday 28th Sept (as per David)) and his promises of getting them to me by 10am did not happen.  I emailed him twice, once at 1030am and again at 1130am to no avail.  So as reliability is very important to us we are going to go with another company for trusses who have proved themselves to date to be extremely reliable and competitive.  I am sure you understand. 

As far as dealing with the walls etc, if we do go with you I would prefer to deal with someone such at yourself for this and refuse to go through David whom I frankly cannot rely upon.  If this is a  problem in anyway please get your boss to call me.  There may be a protocol, but SWS and Space Coast Truss would have lost our business had I not contacted you directly and it would have left a negative impression on both companies.  Please know I am not angry in anyway but pleased that I did call you direct.  As my husband runs a company we sympathize that your company may not realize your time and effort producing bids is not necessarily being passed on in a timely fashion.  Therefore this will directly effect whether OB's such as ourselves consider you.  We may be a small portion of the market, but are growing rapidly and there are presently over 100,000 OB builds nationwide every year.

Kenny, please know we really do appreciate your help, assistance, expertise and professionalism.  It has gone a long way and promoted SWS to highest level in customer service in our opinion.  Whether we use you or not I will have no hesitation in recommending SWS and in particular yourself.  I truly hope SWS appreciate what an asset you are to them. Please either pass this onto your superior or furnish me with his/her details as it would be my pleasure to write to them letting them know what an asset they have in you.

Many thanks for all your time with us.
Kindest Regards,
Lisa.

The outcome, they could not budge on the walls, but have brought their foundation quote down by greater than $3,000 to match the competitors.  As they say it does not hurt to ask.    I have since spoken with the framers I am considering who asked who we are using for Trusses when I said the 4 bids we had gone with they instantly said Spacecoast "Bottom feeders".  So I feel I have made a good decision forgoing them.  Brevard Truss responded very quickly, were recommended, and June is an utter delight to deal with. They got back with the bid in record time and have bent over backwards to help.

Hope this helps someone.

Lisa


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By Jeff in Orlando, FL on 10/9/2006


Lisa,

Yes, June has been easy to deal with so far at Brevard Truss. They have come in with the lowest bid so far at $6921. The only one that has come close is another company around Orlando (I cannot recall the name right now) who quoted $7650. Normally a low bid alone is not enough to get me to hire them - I want quality as well. I actually received a good reference for them from someone who has already completed their home using Brevard Truss' trusses. My bid request at Space Coast Truss is still in the works after 3 weeks and they have stopped contacting me altogether. Think about this - if a company cannot respond in a timely manner when it's only at the bidding stage then you DON'T want to be dealing with them when it comes time to get the product installed/constructed.

Does anyone have any framers they can recommend?


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By Jeff in Orlando, FL on 10/9/2006


Lisa,

I forgot to ask you - what's the square footage footprint on your foundation? Thanks.


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By Jeff in Orlando, FL on 10/9/2006


Just remembered something about foundations. Someone told me that the building code only calls for 2500 psi (the exact number might be off) and you'll get low bids if that's what the contractor intends to install. The same source also tells me that if you're trying to avoid cracks in the foundation go with 3500-4000 psi mix. This is especially important if you install tile on a foundation that's only a few months old. You'll certainly get cracks through the tile if it's a low pressure mix.

Anyone have any foundation contractors they'd like to recommend besides SWS?


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 10/9/2006


Hey all-

I would like to shed some light to the table since Cara and I have just went through this all.

I am glad to see that you all are getting your price where you need to be with Solid Walls. We worked with completely different people than you have Lisa, but I have really only dealt with the main people in charge. They are always responsive, especially by email.

Now onto the important things worth noting. Since every one is going to get a different price I would like to tell you what we paid per sqft. That will even the playing field when you get your bids.

Foundation = $5.00 per sq foot. includes all materials, 6mil vapor barrier.

Framing Labor = $4.50 per sq ft under roof, includes crane and all detail work

We used Central Florida Truss for our trusses. Billy Boyer is the guy to talk to. We never consulted SCT for a truss quote because we had decided on CFT before hand. We did however use Space Coast Truss for our framing materials. We also used their best framing crew, Smitty's crew, and these guys are extremely good at what they do. I work with wood so I know when I see talent.  They were all red blooded Americans which was a huge plus. I could conversate with them and we never had a problem discussing logistics. I made some on the fly changes and they rolled with it.

Some of the perks of going with a lumber supply house like SCT for framing material and labor is that I never got billed for delivery and I always got what I needed when I needed it. I must of had 8 different drops. Once the framing was over, they came and picked back up everything we did not use including hardware and distributed a credit. I do not think it could have gone smoother.

Another point I want to make is since you all are considering using SWS at this point it is worth while considering hiring a framing crew who is knowledgeable with a solid wall framing job weather or not it is from SCT.

SWS does not do their own foundation work. It gets subbed out. The company that did ours was Howard Concrete. They are actually from Groveland Lisa. The guy in charge was Glenn. A real cowboy kind of guy, very professional. you might be able to get a better price going right through them. However, through all my major stages so far, there has been only one guy I needed to hold accountable if there was a problem. He is the head at SWS. So in essence he was my GC even though he never stepped foot on the property. I have spoken with him nearly 20 times through the processes and his info has been invaluable. If I paid a little more by subbing through them.....it was worth it.

I would have to say our experience has been very good so far and I would recommend using them as a turn key approach. There are a few times I would have been in a jam if I had tried to sub out everything independently.

Hopefully you all will read this and really think about it. We are lucky we went about it the way we did...there is always inforseen obstacles. If your doing this for the first time like we did, you will be glad you have someone backing you like SWS.

Just a FYI I found out another company that does solid walls. Apparently they do quite a bit as well. I was told that SWS even subs out to them sometimes. There is a pretty freaking big house going up just down the block from our new house on Bancroft. They are about three weeks behind us. TCB is the company, No I don't know what this stands for. It is exactly the same process as SWS. A couple times the guys from TCB came over to check out our place and design.

--Jason


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/10/2006


Jeff,

PSI strength is only 1/3 of the picture when addressing strength and cracks. A properly installed and cured foundation poured with 2,500 psi concrete mix is much less likely to exhibit excessive cracking than a poorly installed foundation poured with 4,000 psi mix. Only concrete that has been property installed and cured will have the capability of reaching its full psi potential. let me got through the 3 steps that you should take to avoid problems.

WATER: So many times have I seen unskilled or uncaring concrete contractors telling the cement truck driver to "add more water". They say it like it was a mantra. Concrete is best at 45% (50% max) total water content by weight (not volume), and 4% air content. When these concrete contractors add more water to the concrete in a effort to make their job easier, they are severely weakening the concrete. The water evaporates and then you are left with relief cracks, way too much air content and week, spauling concrete.

WIRE MESH: Wire mesh looks pretty, lying there on top of your plastic sheets all square and flat, waiting for the rough in inspection. Wire was never intended to keep your concrete from cracking, period. The point is; your concrete will crack. The trick is to keep the cracks to a minimum. If you are serious about your tile installation, you should consider the following. Don't install the wire mesh stuff. Instead (and you can do this yourself with no problem), install #4 rebar, 18" on center perpendicular to each other, and suspend it with wire hangers or bricks so that it is 1 1/2" below the finished surface of the concrete. Reinforcing steel that is closer to the top of the slab is much more effective at suppressing and limiting cracks. This setup will guarantee that when your concrete cracks, it will all be under control. See note below.

(A word about cracks and tiles here: If you have a crack in your slab less than 1/8" and it is as a result of the slab pulling away from each other in a straight, horizontal direction, you are OK to install tile over a crack suppression membrane. If the crack is a result of part of the slab lifting in an upward or downward direction, you should not install tile over it. Doing so is just inviting problems that no crack suppression membrane can address and the problems will likely never go away. Instead, you should consider laminate flooring or carpeting.)

CURING: The norm is for a contractor to pour your slab, finish it, and then walk away to let it dry out in the sun. The worse thing you can possibly do to green (fresh) concrete is allow it to dry. Concrete that dries out before it has had a chance to cure is up to 50% weaker than the same concrete that has been water cured for 28 days, and is also very susceptible to developing many relief cracks from drying out before it was fully cured. If you want the full value out of your concrete, whether it be 2,500 psi or 4,000 psi, you must make sure that it is water cured. For more information, google concrete curing method.


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By Jason in Orlando, FL on 10/11/2006


David--

I want to add to your concrete monologue. There are two important things that were not discussed.

1) FiberMesh. Some people do not like this, but I would not know why. FiberMesh is a product that gets mixed into the concrete truck usually from the supplier...i.e. Rinker. It acts as a bonding agent throughout every square inch of the pour. Tiny barely noticeable fibers intertwine amongst each other adding significant reinforcement.

Usually this process of using fibermesh is done instead of using wire mesh. Although some people use both. It does not hurt, it just costs more. A wire mesh quote will be more than a fibermesh quote. In this instance, price does not dictate superiority in my opinion.

The cons to using fibermesh are that it leaves billions of tiny hairlike strands just barely sticking up from your curing slab. So small you would not know they were there unless you get down on all fours and look very very closely. These wear down in no time as construction goes by and it a non issue for 99% of homeowners. However, if you are planing to do stained concrete floors on the interior...I have heard that fibermesh can "ruin" the look and should be avoided. However, most people that do this in new construction pour a new cap on the area to be stained because construction is a killer on your slab. This in turn would make using fibermesh a non issue.

2) Relief cuts. Relief cuts must be cut into the concrete in order to prevent the mass as whole from having to bear all the stress. They serve the purpose of allowing the slab to move ever so slightly so that it does not cause fissures elsewhere. Relief cuts are now even being cut into garages in most new homes. This did not used to be standard. These cuts should be made just hours after you are able to walk on the slab.

Saying this. There are some cracks in our slab. Small hairline cracks that formed a few days after it was poured. I consulted about it and have been assured that it is very rare not to have a crack somewhere and that my cracks do not pose any threat. So even though I hoped for no cracks, and the process was done properly... from what I hear it is very rare not to have any.

--Jason


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/11/2006


The following post is a bit lengthy, but the subject of cracks in concrete is very complicated and detailed.

Jason, thanks for pointing out the relief cuts, or control joints as they are called. I thought about mentioning it, but then abandoned the idea because so few people have heard if it or are willing to invest in it and the cuts must be made in a very specific way in order to have the desired effect. And as you pointed out, if it is not done when the concrete is “green”, the effects are negligible. The idea behind control joints is two fold. First, when the concrete looses water and contracts, instead of the entire slab shrinking and forming relief cracks, you have smaller units of concrete that will shrink independently. Thus the entire slab will be much less susceptible to alligator cracks.   The second thing is that when the slab does crack, it should follow the control joints if they were properly located and cut.

The following is information that I gathered during my days as a concrete contractor’s assistant and tile installer, from discussions with my bridge building brother in law, and personal observation. We must first distinguish between the various types of cracks in concrete, relief cracks due to improperly installed and cured concrete; and cracks due to a settling foundation or curling. The small hairline cracks that you make mention of could be relief cracks. Here is how you can make a definitive judgment. Relief cracks will exhibit the widest part of the cracks beginning at a point (or points) somewhere in the center of the slab or room. These relief cracks will then run from a central point outward towards the footer and will progressively get thinner as they emanate outwards until they totally disappear. Cracks due to settlement of the foundation will do the exact opposite, will most often begin at an inside corner, and will tend to be much wider than relief cracks at their point of origin. Relief cracks will quickly reach equilibrium (one or two months), while the other will theoretically never stabilize, but will continue to grow indefinitely.

Please do not be offended by the following statement. I am going to prove what I am saying. ALL relief cracks ARE preventable. I manage an 18,000 s.f. warehouse with a polished cement floor than has 0 cracks of any kind. It is not anyone’s fault that the contractor pours a slab with the consistency of Campbell’s chunky soup rather than condensed cream of tomato. As I said before, if you pour concrete with water content of no more than 50% by weight, and properly water cure it, it WILL NOT develop relief cracks, only settlement cracks. I will prove it to you. Go out to your driveway and compare the size and frequency of those relief cracks to those in your slab. They will be fewer and smaller. Why? Because the contractor has very good access to your driveway and does not have to use a concrete pump or watered down concrete to pour it. The driveway always gets poured with the proper amount of water because the contract wants to avoid call-backs. Your floor however gets covered up and no one cares what it looks like. Now you know!

Again, a word about tiles and control joints: If you are going to lay tile, you MUST use a crack suppression membrane over each control joint, or preferably over the entire slab. You can not bridge a control joint with a tile. And if you begin your installation on either side of a control joint, you must use grout caulking instead of Portland based grout to fill that joint. Because if you do use Portland based grout in that situation, the grout will always end up cracking and dislodging from the joint. You will do much better to use a genuine bone-fide crack suppression membrane and install it according to manufacturer’s specs.

On to the glass fiber comment. I am very familiar with the various fibers and weaves used in FRP products such as S-glass, E-glass, carbon fiber and Aramid (Kevlar). The fibers I use are suspended in an epoxy resin matrix at a ratio of 1/1. They have extremely predictable and well documented modulus and flexural strengths. I have read many documents about the strength of fiber reinforced concrete (glass, nylon, polyolefin and steel). According to the technical documents that I have read thus far concerning fiber reinforced concrete, their ability to prevent or keep a crack in a slab from spreading is not very well documented. All I can tell you for sure is that glass fiber reinforced concrete was used in the slab on my home and it did very little to stop huge settlement cracks from developing in my foundation. In fact, 11 years after my house was built, the cracks is my slab are still active. I know this because at least three of the tiles that I laid just last year have already cracked. And yes, I did use a crack suppression membrane that was 3’ wide. Go figure!

The rebar schedule that I previously made reference to would insure that when cracks do develop, they will be under control. Here is the article where I first read of this technique. It is written by two structural engineering consultants with a combined 50 years experience in designing and troubleshooting concrete slabs on grade. Happy reading: stegoindustries.com


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By David in Ocoee, FL on 10/12/2006


I should have made mention of this in my last post: If you determine that the cracks in your concrete are relief cracks for sure, you don't need to be concerned about it or treat it in any way or go over it with a crack suppression membrane. I would however advise that as a standard practice, you should use a polymer modified mortar (like FlexBond) to set your tile. It is never advisable to adhere your tile directly to the concrete slab without the use of either an uncoupling membrane (like Schuler-Dietra) or a polymer modified mortar. To do otherwise is a sure invitation for cracked tiles.
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By Dennis in Howey-in the Hills, FL on 11/19/2006


Jason & Jeff,

I'm exploring the idea of building a house near Howey in the Hiils in late 07.  The omnicrete system is really interesting from the standpoints of "durability, energy savings and cost". However, I noticed that your bid costs are higher than comparable construction, which shoots a hole in the idea of cost savings.  Jason - you mentioned that there are major drawbacks.  Could you expand on this?  Jeff - do the advertised advantages of the system overcome the increased cost? Or, are the so called advantages for real? I'm a newby in the building process (did get the Owner-Builder book though!) and would appreciate as much advice as I can get at this stage.  Thanks a lot.  This is a great discussion site.  I learned alot in just an hour of reading.  Dennis   


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By Frank in Orlando, FL on 2/6/2007


Lisa and David please forgive me if i am going about contacting you in the wrong way, but i am new to the site and am way behind you in the ob process.  as i am going through the research i keep running across these threads so i joining the conversation a little late.... that aside you asked about architectural details and external "dressings"..... I ran across this company which only interested me because they are local to Orlando and I greatly believe in forming personal relationships with people i do business with whenever possible... (which sort of contradicts my love of the internet and the fact that I will never have to go Xmas shopping again. 

mrfoamy.com/

Maybe it will help.  Thanks again guys for all your counsel.

Frank


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By Dennis in Howey-in the Hills, FL on 7/3/2007


Saw the pros - but what about the drawbacks now that you've actually built a home?  Can you summarize the systems you finally used vs. Omnicrete (or anything else)?  Did it cost less and/or offer more?  You've posted a lot here and have the benefit of real-time experience.  We'd love to hear about your REAL experience
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By Joe in Ruskin, FL on 7/4/2007


Hi Dennis,

I don't know about those doing the concrete construction, but I am at the stage of having the shell completed on a steel SIP by Marquis Construction and ,dealing with them has been a great experience.  The style of construction is leaving us with a huge open box inside and the interior wall framing can be modified without any difficulty.  I can already see the insulation values, standing out in the sun as opposed to under this box - it's like a refrigeration unit.  Although several of the base openings are there, for the most part, I can change placement of windows as well. Until they are cut out - which will be after the walls are framed so I can better visualize where they would be per the plans.

The walls and roof have gone up pretty much as planned and anticipated, and the crew is very diligent about maintaining and even improving the overall strength of the structure through their fastening methods.  I have been told it should ultimately be rated for winds above 150 mph with all the steel in it.

My place is also using the panels for a flat rooftop deck above the sun room area and on the roof itself ,and when I spoke with Chris about possibly adding Icynene under the panels on the roof, he said there was no need.  He is right on that as well, in the afternoon sun you can place your hand on the inside of the panel and you feel virtually no heat transfer coming through.

I have posted a couple of pics here so you can get a real rough idea of my project but, if you would like to take a ride out to Ruskin, just a little south of Tampa, I would be happy for you or anyone else to see what is going on here.  Just send me an email and I will be glad to call you back and set a time to meet.

Joe H


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By Joe in Ruskin, FL on 7/5/2007


Just a little update, out of curiosity I took my laser digital thermometer down to the site today and around noon in the shade it was 83 degrees.  I checked the temp. on the outside of a panel that had been facing the sun most of the morning and got a reading of 99 degrees; almost directly opposite on the inside of the panel the temp. read out at 79 degrees, and by comparison, one of the red iron posts on the inside near the other reading was at 87 degrees.  I also checked one of the concrete columns near the same location and it was 82 degrees.  I plan to make an effort to put foam insulation or Icynene inside those posts in an attempt to dissipate the heat from them.  I might also try painting a reflective coating on the outside of the posts as well, to limit the heat absorption.  All in all, I was pretty happy with the lack of heat penetration on the panels from the direct sun.

Can't claim these results to be extremely scientific but they are interesting.

Joe H


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By Lisa in Groveland, FL on 8/9/2007


Question: I'm looking into garage doors presently and found a little info on the web, but no comparisons between vinyl and metal garage doors.  I never 100% trust the sales person, let's face it, the more costly something is the more they are going to push it.  I understand R-Value, what I am failing to grasp is the point of it when that area is not A/C'ed and frequently opened to let the exterior temperature influence the ambient temperature in the garage anyway.  Plus, we are having polyurethane foam in the floor system to help prevent the hot temperature affecting the bonus room above it.  How can a greater R-Value in the garage doors keep the high temp. of a garage down on a hot day when it has to be opened anyway?  I can understand it may aid the garage in not reaching the heights of temperatures on a really hot day, but let's face it, it is still non A/C space.

All thoughts appreciated.


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