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Price for Dac-Art?


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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 2/28/2007


Hi all! I have tried my best to find out the block price or per sq. ft. price for DAC-ART, but I am unable to. Does anyone here know? Or maybe even know of other similar building systems?
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/28/2007


I am not sure what their wall system is other than an oversized stone-looking block.

Can you better explain what you are looking for?

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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 2/28/2007


I am looking for large-sized concrete blocks with insulation on the inside and an exterior that looks good enough not to need finishing.

We emailed the DAC-ART people yesterday and got the reply that they don't sell the components by themselves, only in packages where they do the architectural design and that SF prices are from $65-$85.

Well, as my husband and I are going to build the ENTIRE house with our own two hands, that is not for us. So basically, I am looking for a system that is easy to set up, looks good without a finishing coat and has a high R-value.

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By Tom in North Richland Hills, TX on 3/1/2007


You might look at autoclaved aerated concrete block. If you do a search on the Internet you will find a lot of information. I am currently building my house out of these blocks, as they are insulated. One company that has a good website is safecrete.com 


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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/1/2007


I am sure that is a good material to build out of (our current apartment building is built out of the stuff) but then you have the "problem" of having to finish the surface of it to make it look decent. As we are building it ourselves we want to minimize the work, but we don't want to live in a bunker either. So, insulated, dry-stackable, finished blocks are what we are looking for. Hopefully they are not just a pipe dream...
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/1/2007


Dry-stack block systems usually need to be surface bonded if the cavities are filled with insulation. One exception I know of is a superlite product where there are tension rods running vertically in the block that hold it together:
superliteblock.com/integra, then the cavity it filled with foam.

One problem with any concrete block system is that the web is your weakest link in the thermal envelope. Typically a block wall is furred out on the inside to achieve a good R-value.


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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/1/2007


Yes, I just saw that on a .gov website today. Gave me some food for thought. I will look at the superlite block with my husband later today and see if that is a viable option. Thanks a lot for the suggestion!
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/1/2007


You may want to consider a different wall system with a "stone" veneer for the exterior finish. Or something more regional like adobe and rammed earth. Both of these walls need to be 20'+ to work for insulation in your area, but you don't have to do anything else to "finish".

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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/1/2007


Yes, that is what we finally decided on yesterday, go with ICFs and stucco. Can't find anything else that makes any sense. Adobe and rammed earth was the first thing we looked at but it is way too labor intensive for us building it ourselves. Those adobe bricks weigh a ton! So much as we would love an adobe home, it is not happening this time around at least.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/2/2007


Have you considered SIPs? There is a company in NM that makes a great product which I have used several times over the years.  kcpanels.com

There are some great discussions in the Green Building forum about ICFs and SIPs.

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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/6/2007


Yes, we have considered SIPs but found that ICFs seem more compatible with our DIY approach.
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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/6/2007


I will however consider it again because they are, as you mentioned, based in NM and that is a big plus.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/6/2007


A few years ago I designed a house for a client of SIP's. We created one wall in the dining area which would be an accent wall of stabilized adobe. The SIP wall received smooth, hand-troweled stucco finish. The combination looks pretty good.

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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/6/2007


That sounds beautiful! In an ideal world I would build the house out of 100% adobe but it is too heavy for my husband to work with. If I remember correctly, his main objection to SIPs is that they use too much concrete. He is looking to use waffle-grid ICFs. He has worked in various construction trades so he is not completely blank when it comes to building but far from trained.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/6/2007


I think you might be somewhat confused with our material name shortcuts.

ICFs use concrete (Insulated Concrete Form). SIPs are made of foam and OSB (Structural Insulated Panel) and OSB is orientated strand board.

An SIP section is 4' wide and however tall you need. An 8' high panel weighs about a 100 pounds. kcpanels.com is the local company.

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 3/6/2007


SIPs don't use concrete.  ICF uses concrete.

While I poured a couple of years back, I would strongly recommend consideration of flat-wall ICF instead of waffle-grid ICF. Sure, waffle-grid ICF uses less concrete, but the code book treats them differently and you need to understand the differences. As well, around here none of the professionals use waffle-grid, even though they are available locally if you wish to order them. This was my decision point, the code inspectors familiar with ICF had never seen waffle-grid ICF, and I really didn't want to educate them (I had to do enough education, some things I simply went default).

While I tend to like to make my own decisions, I figure if the professionals can't figure out how to cut installed costs on ICFs by using waffle-grids over flat-wall, far be it from to to try this path. They explained to me that installed price was cheaper on flat-wall because labor costs on waffle-grids was more. They don't even use 4" ICF (again a 33% reduction in concrete over 6" flat-wall) because installed price on a 4" ICF is higher (again due to labor costs) than installed cost on a 6" flat-wall.


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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/6/2007


Yeah, I was confused. I thought SIPs were the same as flat-wall. D'oh! Anyway, hubby has been convinced. For now it seems to be 4" flat-wall ICFs. :-)
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 3/6/2007


I would be careful with 4" ICF. There is a reason the pros use 6" ICF for their building. It isn't because they like to spend extra money on materials. However if this is your decision, understand a couple of ramifications:

1) How big are your openings (windows, doors, garage doors if you ICF the garage)? You have to get steel in there, and larger openings equate to more steel. You get too much steel in there, and your concrete mix becomes critical, as you need it to flow around the steel. If you get voids in your headers, you will not have adequate strength. Technically you need a certain amount of concrete surrounding your steel, although I have never seen a code inspector verify this measurement. With 6" concrete, you use less steel in your headers, so not only do you have more room for steel, you have far more void space to get concrete in there. With 4" ICF, you are dealing with more steel, stirrups, and a whole rat's nest that is hard to get concrete into.

2) When you pour ICF, you generally pour in 4' lifts around the perimeter. The problem is that when you stack an ICF wall, you can't see to the bottom, so you don't exactly know how much concrete you have in there. You pour 4" block, it fills very quickly. Problem here is you have to move fast or you overshoot your 4' lift. At 4' of wet concrete, you are putting 600 psf of hydrostatic pressure trying to get out of that formwork. Overshoot this to 6' (and 4" ICF fills very quickly) and now you are looking at 900 psf of hydrostatic pressure. 4" ICF suffers from a lot more blowout problems than 6", and it's not because the forms are any weaker.

3) You can only choke that concrete pump so much. Filling out of a 2" reducer is about as good as you're going to get. Your pump operator gets paid by the hour, and paid very well. If you have blowouts, this slows your operator down while you are fixing the wall.

4) At least in my market, a 6" ICF wall is a cheaper installed price than a 4" ICF wall, even with the increased concrete prices. Now this is materials and labor, and by DIY you are attempting to eliminate the labor cost. ICF blocks cost the same either way, so in your attempt to be as frugal as possible you are also attempting to eliminate as much concrete as possible. I can agree with this, but again unless you are experienced doing ICF to start with, I wouldn't exactly be looking for ways to make it more complex than it needs to be. There is a reason the pros would rather spend the extra money on concrete, it is more than offset by their reduced labor costs. Remember these guys aren't in business to give money away, or to create ways of taking longer than necessary or spending more than necessary for any given job.

5) For ICF experience, I would go over to icfweb.com, and the forums at greenbuildingtalk.com. There are a lot of pros over there more than willing to answer newbie questions. I gathered a lot of information from those sites that made my decision to use ICF a much more positive decision.

Good luck, and keep us posted on your project. As an O-B who used ICF (although I subcontracted out my ICF installation, I helped other O-B's stack, brace, and pour) and now live in it, it is a decision you won't regret.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 3/6/2007


I would recommend jumping over to the green building forum and reading some of the postings about ICF's. Especially read the material of John from Erie, CO. Thermal-Mass-Example

I suspect that the 2" of concrete you save from putting in the walls is going to have a significant impact on the thermal performance of your walls and long-term energy usage. You will have cut the time lag by 1/3 or more because of the minimal coverage of the steel.

Some jurisdictions would rather not take the risk of a 4" panel without an engineer stamp which might cost more than the concrete savings.

And the only waffle-grid that I know will pass codes is RASTRA and its copycat blocks. And they are about the same price for the finished wall as a 6" flat panel wall.

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By Birgitte in Alamogordo, NM on 3/8/2007


Thanks guys for the advice. Hubby is over at the greenbuilding forum lurking and reading. He's not much of a poster... :-)
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By Rob in MA on 5/26/2007


I too was thinking this might be a great approach, but I have some concerns about the New England winters and this product. 

It took a little while to find the info on the site, but it was there somewhere - just cannot find it again.

However I did save it and posted it below;

Altogether with double rows of 12" at cyclotron room including interior walls as drawn, the total number of components is estimated to be 1,382.








At factory block cost before taxes and delivery, approx. plus tax and delivery and installation.
 $69,750




Building footprint 77x51 = 3,927 SF


The SF cost of DAC-ART material is
 $17.76

The building shell with foundation, slab, roof, and all DAC-ART then may be $45/SF, depending on what is included.




This would include all the DAC-ART interior walls as drawn. Note that the interior walls and doubling the walls of the cyclotron room has almost doubled the amount of DAC-ART in the exterior walls alone.ls for





The above is for all blocks to be 12" thick, and doubled at cyclotron room.
Therefore, this  does not include the 2-foot-thick blocks and the mold making for these.




While there would be an initial investment in the special blocks, it would reduce the cost when building several cyclotron rooms.


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By lundy in gulf shores, AL on 2/20/2009


We did decide to use DAC-ART for our coastal residence and we are just finishing up a two-year building project. Very pleased with the result. Were there headaches ? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Living in a hurricane zone poses such special problems and home strength is tops on the list of important considerations. I suppose I'd have to say that, for me anyway, style is number two and everything else under these.

Funny thing though, is that a DAC-ART house makes such a powerful looking building that people always think your home is bigger than it really is. My house is a two bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, one-car garage house, but it really looks impressive. We still lack the decorative pieces that go over the panels between the windows in the master bedroom, and a few other smaller things, but we sold our crane and hope to move in soon. We find so many people interested in the process of building with DAC-ART that we photo-journaled the process of building a hurricane proof  home at ConcreteCottage.com.
These photos will give you an idea of the size of the blocks and how it looks on the interior. All of these are construction photos, not the finished project.



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By Linda in Mapleton, MN on 8/12/2009


I bet you are already either well into or have even completed your home, but the product you were looking for, i.e. an ICF with a finished interior and exterior with rigid foam in the middle and a weep cavity, is called Pentstar or One Step Building System. It was made in MN, and now in Iowa. Check out the website. It is not expensive and not difficult to work with. The customer service is horrible, I'll warn you. Be persistent!


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By Theodore in Mobile, AL on 8/30/2014


DAC-ART is a custom approach with components ranging tremendously in simple to very complex geometry and including sculpture. It is not an ICF. It does not have simple standard sized blocks with a price as it's main business. The DAC-ART client thinks in terms of the entire house for pricing. It is normal though for folks who are curious about it to think in terms of a block. As an Owner builder, you can build the best house that can be built with DAC-ART. Visit dac-art.com and contact me.
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By Theodore in Mobile, AL on 8/30/2014


Thanks so much for looking into DAC-ART at dac-art.com. I can't remember if I heard from you. I don't have a standard size line of blocks pre-priced, given the custom nature and "whole package" character of my projects. I would be glad to discuss price with some definition of the real project, its size and scope, etc I enjoy working with owner builders. I've had several clients who are owner builders and they seem to do a better job in the final quality of the work on their homes.
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