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Sloping Lots


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Eugene's Forum Posts: 13

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By Eugene in Quincy, CA on 2/24/2005


We have a sloping lot in the mountains of northern California. We picked a house plan that has a walk-out basement. Does anyone have any suggestions on whether we should use poured cement, block, or ICFs for the walls of the basement?


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Danny's Forum Posts: 14

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By Danny in Livermore, CA on 2/24/2005


First you need to consult a soils engineer to determine the type of soil you have and he will recommend the type of foundation that the structural engineer will need to design, such as pier and grade beam on most slope or hillside lots. If you have a basement, then you'll need an engineered retaining wall since it will be holding back soil behind it (only if the wall is four feet tall or higher).
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By Bob in Burnsville, MN on 7/12/2005


I have a walkout on a sloping lot in Alpine, CA, and will use Reward Walls ICF. I had all the engineering work done by an engineer who never did ICF before, and it's working out fine.

However, if I had to do it over again, I would use the Prescriptive Method of ICF construction. This is a cookie-cutter method of engineering for ICF construction. I could have saved a ton of money on engineering costs had I done it this way from the beginning.

There are limitations which if exceeded, mean that you'll need to have the design fully engineered. In a nutshell, you can design a walkout basement 10 feet from slab to top of the basement wall with a 9-foot backfill if your soil is not less than $2,000/sq. ft. bearing pressure. In San Diego County, they require a soils report which will give this data. Cost me $1,900 to get 2,500/sq. ft. So I was good to go.

The basics of engineering an ICF home are determining the maximum wall height (you can go basement plus two floors above), rebar spacing, footing dimensions based on your soil type, seismic category, and wind gust.

So if you want to save time, money, and learn a cool way to build (by the way, a lot of contractors have no idea how to build with ICF) then ICF is the way to go. There are more and more contractors starting to build in our fire burn zones lately so it doesn't mean there isn't anyone out there. You may have to look around. I went with Reward Wall because the distributor I'm working with is giving a lot of support. I've never heard of the local lumberyard giving an O-B support to do stick framing. 

Good luck,

Bob W


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By Marc in Defuniak Springs, FL on 8/5/2005


During the planning stage we looked into pilings, block and ICF for our basement, as we have a 9-degree slope (so the septic folks tell us). It was a tough decision, but in the end the total cost won out. The block basement would have been $8,500 and then to get it ready (interior) for additions with fir and such of course, not including labor, was additional cost.

Being in the COUNTRY, getting a piling in was huge in cost (travel for the equipment, water for jetting) and still we would have to build a garage.

ICF as a walk-in is costing $12K for 2,592 SF with 10' ceilings, no labor included. Now complete fir is not necessary and I felt much more secure with all that concrete under us.

Attached are a couple of photos of our slope with the basement dug out.

Good luck, we are happy we have the slope now as we are going to be on top of the world looking out at our lake.


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By Steve in Olympic Valley, CA on 1/26/2013


Hi Bob,

Really excellent post. I am planning an ICF project in Squaw and have a 25% downslope and planning a walkout with two living stories above -- similar to you, I think. I was planning to have a local Truckee engineer do the calcs, but see that you advise differently. Can you comment if you still think this is the right path and about how much you think the engineering cost might be? Also, if you can advise on how you selected the ICF supplier, that will be super helpful.

Thanks,

Steve


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