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By Marsha in Frankfort, KY on 5/2/2005


We are finally to the quote-getting stage after months of finalizing our plans! We just got our first quote on the ICF block and materials and my husband and I are both floored! The quote came back at $108,000 for ICF materials and labor. The cost for materials only was $57K. We were planning our total budget at $350K. We think this sounds high but then again, this is our first quote. They also said it would take a four-man crew two months to do the labor. We were planning on doing a lot of the ICF labor ourselves and were not planning on it taking that long! Would appreciate any opinions or advice from those who have used ICF.  

Oh - house is 4,000 sf over a 2,000 sf basement.  


Thanks!

Marsha

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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 5/2/2005


I received. a bid from a contractor for the basement and first floor of our 2,500 sq ft 1 1/2 story; it came in at $49,000.

Now this included the delivery and installation of the blocks, rebar, floor joist attachments, and sill plates. In addition, the 80 yards of concrete and pump truck rental. Although this is my first bid, it came in at about what I expected. I feel this contractor will do a good job as another poster here that lives in my area recommended them.

 


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By Jim in Austin, TX on 5/2/2005


Another site for ICF info: icfweb.com/search.

It has search engine for ICF-related professionals by state and more ICF information than you can use. Should help you get a bit more competitive bid.

Jim


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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 5/2/2005


I'm curious as to what kind of price per SF of wall area you have? In my area I've been quoted between $6.50 - $9 per SF installed cost.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 5/3/2005


The overall question is not the size of your house, but how many square feet of wall space does it include? Does your ICF bid include footings, waterproofing, parging? How many windows? What size ICF (4" core, 6" core, 8" core, larger)? How much steel?

$6.50-$9 installed price is pretty good pricing around here. When I first started getting bids, they were $10.50-$12/s.f., but if you look hard enough you can find someone more reasonable.


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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 5/3/2005


I think prices are reasonable here because ICF is quite popular in S. Texas. In my town, there are distributors for no fewer than 7 brands of blocks. One even runs a course in conjunction with the local community college. I plan on attending the class if it falls on time off from work on the ship.

Familiarity with the product and enough dealers and installers to choose from helps a lot. It's great to have people competing for your business.


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 5/3/2005


My bid DID include the footings with 8" block in the basement and 6" block on the first floor. There are 14 window/door openings on the first and one window in the basement.


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By Marsha in Frankfort, KY on 5/4/2005


Thanks for the responses. I'm learning so much from reading the posts on this site!


Our quote was for 8" block on the basement and first floor and 6" block on the second floor and footers installed = $108,000. Quote for the block only was $57,000. The guy said they are estimating 1,500 blocks for the house, so if my calculations are right that comes to $38/block. I think this sounds high. Does it sound way off to anyone else?

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 5/4/2005


Just some quick math shows that one block is $5.33 s.f. (they are almost all 48" long and 16" high). That is almost 8,000 s.f. of block. Now you need to figure how many windows (they usually include this in the s.f. unit price because although windows are "holes", they do require window bucks that are either expensive or labor-intensive. Your unit price is under $13/s.f.


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By Kevin in West Chester, OH on 5/4/2005


I am building a 2,600 sf house, one story, about 265-270 lineal feet of walls for the main house. My basement is nearly 10' tall, 14" for my floor joists, and primarily 9' tall first floor walls (a few sections of 10' and 12'). Plus, I have an additional ~45 feet of garage "foundation" walls and I have a frost wall, which adds a couple of courses to the back of my house...

I received three bids:

1) ~ $100,000, 10" walls all the way up. 

2) ~ $90,000 6" walls all the way up

3) ~ $50,000 5" walls all the way up (which is adequate width, based on the ICF manufacturer's structural engineering - which my state/county recognizes as 'acceptable'.). This is ~$9/ s.f.  

The bid includes doing the footers, a frost wall along the back (two courses underground as I have a walk-out basement), the ICF blocks, the concrete, the rebar, Simpson strong ties and installation, whatever wood is required for windows/doors, concrete pumping, etc. Pretty much everything needed.

The forms are only 2 1/8" thick on each side, so not as much insulation as some, but interestingly, I used a HVAC-Calc 4.0 program (which I posted about elsewhere) and did some 'scenarios' for different R-values achieved with thicker form sides... and it made very little difference in the heat and cooling loads. 

I have negotiated to go even lower on pricing for my chosen bid by:

1)  Agreeing to purchase the blocks 'up front', saving me nearly $2K.

2)  Agreeing to purchase the concrete directly, another nearly $2K. This has also helped with my concrete pricing for the rest of my house - having a need of nearly 200 yards+ is significant.

My ICF contractor has also been doing ICF homes for 10+ years, so, he has decent experience.

Kevin


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By Kristina in New London, PA on 10/17/2005


I have received a bid for ICF's of $30,000. This includes a 2,000 sf walkout basement (9-ft. ceiling), 2,000 sq. ft first floor (10-ft. ceiling) and 400 sf garage (10-ft. ceiling). Brand is TF System - they use the vertical panels - which makes more sense to me, as they are easier to replace in the event of a blowout. The bid does not include any of the concrete, rebar, footers or labor. However, they will come for a day and instruct us how to lay the tracks and assemble the walls. Plus they will come the day the concrete arrives to help with the pour. My concern, (not having done this before) is that I will miss or forget something. Do the concrete companies supply the rebar, or do I purchase that separately? Do I need to hire a crew to do the pour for the walls or is that something that can be DIY? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Kris


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By P in North, FL on 10/18/2005


I posted about TF Systems a while back. We are still leaning towards them for house.

Let us know how it goes with them.


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 10/18/2005


I just completed my basement wall pour last week. I was really working hard in preparation for that pour, so it's a HUGE relief having it done.

I used TF System, and was very happy with it. I assembled the forms by myself on weekends. (Took about five weekends to put up about 3,500 sq ft of wall form.) I rented ICF scaffolding from my ICF rep. With that scaffolding, it was simple and easy to straighten the walls. It did take some time to assemble the scaffolding though - almost as long as it took to assemble the walls!

I braced the forms far more than was required. The company tells you that only the corners need to be braced. My ICF rep recommended two horizontal whalers on the exterior surface of the walls. I put whalers on most of the interior walls too.  After witnessing the pour, I think you COULD get away with only bracing the corners. The system is amazingly strong. I had two areas that bulged, but didn't burst. In both places, the problem was with the way the walls were assembled. (i.e. - my fault.)

Bottom line: I was extremely happy with TF and would recommend it to anyone considering assembling their own forms. (If you're hiring a crew, I'd recommend using whatever system they're comfortable with.)

One final note: Even if you assemble the forms yourself, I would recommend hiring a crew to do the pour. There's a lot that has to be done in a short period of time. (Curing concrete waits for no one.) My guys were buzzing all over the place. I felt better knowing there was less chance of some detail being overlooked. ("Oh no!!! I forgot the sill bolts!!") Also, I just felt like it was cheap insurance.  My crew charged me $1,600 to do the pour. Not knowing what I was doing, it wasn't worth risking a blowout to save $1,600.

BTW, I haven't calculated an exact final cost for the walls yet, but the last time I ran the numbers it was coming up about $8.50 per square foot. That didn't include footers. My footers cost about $8,000, but they were extreme (30" wide, 12"-14" deep in most places. 42" deep in one corner. 6 pads that were 5'x5'x18".  55 yards of concrete total.)


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 10/18/2005


You buy the rebar. It is placed when the wall is constructed, before the concrete company gets there.

I would recommend taking a class on ICF construction. ECO-Block and Arxx routinely offer these in my locale, IIRC I paid about $125 for the class. Well worth it. I learned a tremendous amount, including shortcuts the subs use - you will find many of the people taking the class have been working on ICF crews already - they just hadn't yet had an opportunity for formal training.

Another potential opportunity to learn was that one of the local Habitat for Humanity chapters using exclusively ICF construction. I didn't use this route, but I did catch up with one of their team leaders to discuss my project and they continued to consult with me through the build process. I agreed to give him an hour of my time once my project was completed for every hour of his time I used. I forgot I agreed to this until I was just posting, guess I will be volunteering for Habitat sometime soon ;-)


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By P in North, FL on 10/18/2005


Did you use the forms with the PVC or the steel?


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 10/18/2005


I originally wanted the steel I-beams, because the flanges were wider. My rep talked me into the PVC. Now that the walls are done, I'm glad I went with the plastic. They were plenty strong and were very easy to cut and handle. 
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By P in North, FL on 10/18/2005


Was there a big cost difference between the two?
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 10/18/2005


I don't think so, but I honestly don't remember. I made the PVC choice so early in the game that I forget the details.
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By Marc in Defuniak Springs, FL on 10/18/2005


I agree with Ken. I was involved in a first floor build with ECO-Blocks and there for the pour. I did it for free (helped them, I learned) and so glad I did. The one thing I came away with was the power of concrete and how important bracing is...

M


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By Alvin in FL on 12/8/2005


I am in the process of building with ICF now. The actual ICF part is already done. I used Amvic block and did it all myself. I have 2,000 sq ft of walls and and the complete price came out to $5.50 per sq ft. This included the blocks, bracing, rebar, window and door bucks, concrete, pump truck, tools, miscellaneous supplies, and labor for helping with the pour. I did everything but the pour by myself and hired the company I purchased the block from to help with that part. I did the complete job in 7 days.

The reason I chose ICF was that my previous home that sat on the same spot was destroyed by last year's hurricanes. We wanted to make sure we built a replacement that would withstand the winds, and ICF is it.

Due to fighting with the insurance company for funds and lots of bad weather, it has taken a little longer than planned, but things are back on track now as a final settlement with the insurance company has been made. We broke ground six months ago and as of today the house is dried in under roof and all of the interior framing is complete. Hope to finish up in the next three months.


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By P in North, FL on 12/8/2005


Alvin, you did an excellent job. The house looks great. Good to hear you are recovering from the hurricanes okay. Some insurance companies were not on their game.

How much per sq/ft total for the entire house?


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By Alvin in FL on 12/9/2005


Phil,

At the point we are at now, dried in under roof with interior framing and rough plumbing complete, we are right at $25 per sq ft. Our goal is to come in under $50, and that is with top of the line components and many extra frills. Doing most of the work myself has helped keep the cost low. With the fact that I live right on the property and do not have a regular 9-5 type job to eat up my time, I have plenty of time to do the work. It also helps that I am skilled enough in many of the trades to get the job done without much help.

The Owner-Builder Book is right on about the 1,000 hours of planning. I would say that is a minimum and I would guess that I have twice that in this project as I had plenty of time since September a year ago when my house was destroyed, to start making plans. Although we are in the building stage, I still spend part of each day planning ahead and searching for deals on supplies and materials that will be needed in the next phases and lining up help as needed.

I have been nothing but impressed with ICF blocks since I first found out about them. They are the building system for the future as there are so many added benefits to them over conventional construction. At this time in my area, they are also much cheaper to build with than stick framing  or concrete block. Concrete blocks sell for $2.50 each and the labor to lay them is $2 or more, making it very expensive. A 2x4 stud is close to $5 each which makes it even more expensive to build a total stick house and in this area with hurricanes, wildfires, and termites, a stick house is a bad choice. Even with concrete in this area at $115 per yard, the ICF was still much cheaper to build.

The company that I bought my blocks from allowed to me to come on their job sites and work with them to learn more about ICF. I helped them build 6 houses and became knowledgeable enough about every step of the process, which allowed me to easily build my own without any problems. During this time, I also learned a lot about different types of ICF blocks and this helped me make my choice to use Amvic. Two of these houses were owner-builders and one was a general contractor who bought blocks from different companies and because they got little or no help from their supplier, and were not knowledgeable enough about the process to take on the job alone, they botched the job and needed to hire someone to come in and fix the problems and finish the job, since they were not receiving any support from their supplier. Each of these houses were being built with different brands of blocks and I got to see firsthand the difficulty level to build with each, how sturdy they were and how they held up during the pour.

I won't name the other brands, but I will tell you that from the four different brands of blocks that I worked with, Amvic was hands down the easiest to use, the sturdiest and we never had a single blowout during a pour on the three houses I helped build using them and my own house as well. Their locking system is deep and strong, which makes it easy to keep the walls straight and plumb, which is one of the biggest problems with ICF. You do not want to use any brand that you have to assemble from pieces and you do not want to use a brand that you have to build your own corners. These types of blocks were very time-consuming to assemble, flimsy, needed lots of extra bracing, were prone to blowouts during the pours, and were difficult to get the walls straight and plumb. It also took longer to assemble the blocks than it took me to actually build my walls using the solid pre-made Amvic blocks.

Just thought that I would pass along this bit of knowledge from my experiences.

Here is Amvic website: Amvic-Pacific


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By P in North, FL on 12/9/2005


Alvin,

How many square feet is your house?

Thanks for the excellent information. It will help many of us (particularly those in Florida), with building our homes.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/10/2005


Alvin,

Welcome to the forum, and great job on your house. Your installed costs are great, $5.50/s.f. Around here, a 2x4 stick wall costs $5-$8/s.f., occasionally more, and this doesn't include housewrap, insulation, vapor barrier, and the other items that are needed to make this an equivalent comparison to an ICF wall. People are consistently amazed that ICF construction is more cost effective than traditional construction, not to mention the quality of the material and structural integrity, increased HVAC efficiency, sound transmission to the inside, or many other factors. I am still amazed that more houses are not built with ICF, instead of traditional sticks. Builders could be providing better quality, premium product (at a premium price mind you, as ICF is upscale) at less cost, all of this adds up to more profit - but most builders started in the carpentry trade. I know of at least one union carpentry apprenticeship that requires all apprentices to learn ICF, and this will certainly help in that region.

Out of curiosity, you might include a detail of how you secured your roof trusses to the ICF wall - I am curious? I used a Simpson Strong-Tie Meta 20 connector cast into the top row of the ICF block, but around here the more typical technique is to use a top plate with J-bolts cast into the top row of the ICF (I eliminated the top plate in my installation), and then use hurricane clips to secure the trusses to the top plate.

I also used Amvic, and although I subcontracted the ICF, I had experience using other blocks prior to my project (other O-B's are almost happy to take some free labor on their own houses, and actually once I show up and pitch in they realize that I do provide a good return as I am not afraid to work and know my way around a construction site). I can tell you I have never seen a pour as rock solid as the Amvic pour. On one competing block the entire wall shook and this was with pretty heavy bracing. On the Amvic house (mine), we braced 4' o.c. (definitely more than necessary), and the wall was rock solid during the pour - I have yet to see another block this strong. I am sure they exist, as there are probably 50+ block manufacturers, and I have only seen block from 15%-20% of these. If I were to DIY, I wouldn't have used Amvic; but this was based on service after the sale. As a side note, in my locale the Amvic was the cheapest block available street price. My subcontractor obviously didn't need service after the sale from the supplier, and has used several other suppliers; he will tell you his cheapest installed price is using Amvic - this is based on material and labor.

Have you shared your pics with your Amvic rep (or other suppliers)? Amvic is always looking for publicity and sites to feature on the Amvic website, and there are usually some free goodies in it for you (grapplers, jackets, promotional items, whatever you might be able to get from your supplier). I have found other suppliers willing to provide discounts too (if you notice on my website, some suppliers trucks with phone numbers are clearly in the pictures).


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By Alvin in FL on 12/11/2005


To answer the first of the above questions, my house is 2,350 sq ft including the enclosed screen porch.

The code in my area for attaching the trusses to the ICF wall is the same as you did it using Simpson Strong Tie Meta 20 straps embedded deep into the concrete at the time of the pour. I thing this is a much better way than using a top plate and I do not like the idea of the wood against the concrete anyway. Don't think I would feel as safe with the top plate and J bolts. Although it was not required, I double strapped my trusses as I am still a little paranoid after having one home destroyed by hurricanes.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/13/2005


Alvin,

I figured the building codes in FL are much greater than MO for wind. An interesting issue, my truss designer said using the tie-downs (Simpson Meta-20) vs. standard construction in my area (as described above) was worth almost 40 mph of roof strength, no other changes required. As a bonus, it saved me money as well (~$600). While not a great amount of money, anytime you can build better quality for less cost I am in. In addition, my ICF subcontractor, a custom home builder, learned another way to build better quality at less cost. Better quality is always a competitive edge (although I doubt most buyers would even know the difference, although the code inspectors do), as is less cost.

Wood next to the concrete is not really an issue, especially above grade. We used the Simpson TSS-2 and TSS-4 plates to prevent wood to concrete contact. With the top plate, I would have probably used a borate pressure treated wood.


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By Lori in Reno, NV on 1/14/2006


Marsha,

I called and spoke to a local ICF representative and asked about the differing of prices across the U.S. He said the main thing that drives the differing in prices is the required amount of rebar. He said we are required to use more in Nevada then in Florida. So the pricing shared by other readers is particular for their state. Have you tried Owner-Builder Connections to network with other O-B's in your area who have used ICF? Give it a try; it may help.

Lori


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By Tom in Orange City, FL on 1/15/2006


I am surprised that Nevada requires more rebar than in Florida. We are building two blocks off the ocean and I am installing rebar in every cell (vertical and horizontal).  Although it may be above and beyond the code, its going to be worth it. I went to the International Builders Show and spoke with both Amvic and Reward Walls reps. Amvic, by far, was the most informative.

My question relates to the top plate comments in this thread. Are you using 2x10 or what? We are planning to use the 11" Amvic block and I am going to hire a sub to install (just don't have the time myself), but will buy direct. Is the top plate with Simpson Meta 20 more uplift preventive?

Tom


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/16/2006


With Simpson Meta 20 connectors, you don't use a top plate.
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By Lori in Reno, NV on 1/16/2006


Tom,

I was also surprised by this, so I aked how can that be. The Amvic dealer in our area stated it was due to the Seismic activity Reno has. I was unable to reach him to try and answer your question, but as soon as I am able to get the information for you I send it to you.

Lori


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/17/2006


This is an interesting variable. I guess when comparing prices we should identify how much steel was being used. Based on my one data point, I will disagree. For example, code for my area is one #4 horizontal at third points in the wall for every story <10', we installed one #4 horizontal at every course (16"). For verticals, I could have used one #4 vertical at 4' o.c. above grade, yet we used over double this amount (16"-24" o.c. depending on location). Over windows, doors, and penetrations, not only did we double the amount of steel necessary per code, we also upgraded from #4 to #5. I doubt there are too many people pouring with more steel than I did. My subcontractor tended to overdo it on the steel.

My low bidder in my area (which I used BTW) was less than 50% of the price of the high bid. All of my other bids came within 70%-100% of the high bidder. This bid was definitely an outlier. As such, I took considerable time to evaluate the subcontractor, his technique, why he was cheaper, etc. So just within my locale, the bid prices varied considerably, and all of my other bids were using less steel than my low bidder.


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By Lori in Reno, NV on 1/17/2006


Tom,

I spoke with a structural engineer at ICF Direct. He said if you use Simpson Meta 20 and set them down into the concrete, no you don't HAVE to use a top plate, that would be your choice. Having a top plate makes it more secure.

He also stated the difference in structure for Nevada is due to the underground activity here and this can be found in the International Residential Building Code.

Lori


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By P in North, FL on 1/17/2006


I am surprised too. Florida has one of the toughest building codes in the nation. Especially for the coastal areas.

realestatejournal.com/propertyreport

Building Houses To Stand Up
To the Force of Hurricanes

By Ryan Chittum and Theo Francis
From
The Wall Street Journal Online

When Peggy Koski and her husband, Rudy, moved back to his hometown of Moss Point, Miss., in 1993, the risk of hurricanes was high on their minds. The year before, Hurricane Andrew had flattened houses across large swaths of southern Florida and they wanted their new home to stand up to such a storm.

"When we built our house we told the designer and the builder that we wanted every safety [feature] we could for protection," Ms. Koski says. They poured an extra-strong foundation, used "hurricane clips" to secure the roof to the wall frames and the frames to the foundation, and had storm shutters installed on the extra-strength windows.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, "our house stayed intact," Ms. Koski says. "We were real thankful that we had put those extra things in to help it stand. My neighbors did not fare as well as we did. The backs of their houses were breached."

Houses like the Koskis', which stands about 57 miles from where the eye of Katrina made landfall, will likely be studied closely as the Gulf Coast begins its massive reconstruction effort. But in some ways the answers are already known.

"If you build to the latest standard of codes, they are going to resist something like a hurricane or earthquake," says Tim Ryan, who heads the disaster-response committee of the International Code Council, a nonprofit group that develops the building codes used by many governments. "Where you see a lot of damage is homes that don't meet that criteria."

The problem is, many areas don't have or don't enforce building codes. That's true even after building codes were strengthened to prevent a repeat of the damage done by Hurricane Andrew to south Florida in 1992.

After Hurricane Andrew, Florida adopted the toughest building codes in the nation for its coastal areas, mandating storm shutters or impact-resistant window glass, and reinforced garage doors, among other measures. The standards were set according to wind maps that showed the high winds likely in the area.

But under heavy lobbying by homeowners and builders in the Florida Panhandle -- who contended that history didn't show a need for the added protection -- the toughest standards extend just a mile in from the coast there, even though wind maps show potentially devastating winds well inland, according to building and insurance officials. The state legislature is re-evaluating the Panhandle exemption, says Rick Dixon, executive director of the Florida Building Commission.

Louisiana and Mississippi have voluntary statewide building codes that leave it up to local governments to decide whether to use or enforce them. In both states, "some places had no building code and had no building department," says Jeff Burton, building code manager for the Institute for Business & Home Safety, a Tampa, Fla., research group funded by the insurance industry.

The problem is typically worse in smaller communities with low-income populations that lack the money to build as sturdily as possible and whose governments don't have the resources or the political will to properly inspect construction and enforce codes.

Hurricane Andrew exposed corner-cutting by builders and lax enforcement by code officials, says David Collins, manager of codes and standards for the American Institute of Architects. "We found a lot of problems that were built into those buildings that shouldn't have been even by the standards of that time," he said. "We saw roof sheathing that wasn't appropriately attached at all. That was a dead giveaway that codes weren't being applied."

Of course, even the best building code won't help much if a house is under water. James Schwab, a senior research associate at the American Planning Association, says the only way to survive that is to raise the building off the ground and let the flood waters or storm surge pass underneath. "Basically you're on stilts," he said.

But in typical storms where wind does most of the damage, builders and "catastrophe modelers" -- companies that try to predict and then estimate the damage from major storms for insurers -- say that well-built newer houses usually do best.

Some older houses, such as from the early 20th century and before, fare reasonably well, too, in large part because they were "overbuilt" -- often constructed with heavier beams or more nails than later engineering deemed necessary. In Louisiana, locals extol the virtue of decades-old houses built with local cypress wood, which they say is better able to withstand a soaking by flood waters.

By contrast, homes built in the 1970s and 1980s can fare poorly due to a boom in lighter-weight, cheaper materials and construction techniques at a time of few hurricanes, when concerns over storm damage had ebbed, catastrophe modelers say.

Builders and insurance officials say code enforcement is often stricter for newly built homes than it is for renovations to older houses. When owners modify an older building, laws often require them to meet new codes, but contractors often skirt or ignore those rules by not getting building permits.

"They will simply go in and do work without pulling permits, keeping it kind of hush-hush," says Wade Scott Morrison, a Tampa, Fla., contractor who owns Wisdom Structural Inc. "It's going to be very difficult to change someone's ethics just because you change the building codes."

Homeowners are sometimes complicit, too, especially because of the expense of bringing a house up to code. "A lot of people have this idea that it's my money, what do I need the city telling me what to do?" says Mr. Morrison, who has been hired in the past to fix substandard work.

For wind resistance, a house's survival may depend on seemingly small things, such as if the windows and garage door are strong enough and if the shingles each have a couple of extra nails in them. If a garage door fails, for instance, the storm's winds can pump up the house "like a balloon and blow it off its foundation," says the International Code Council's Mr. Ryan.

Some people fear that in the rush to rebuild, the same mistakes will be made. "That seems to be something that happens in the wake of natural disasters; the rebuilding is done in haste," says Scott Frank, a spokesman for the American Institute of Architects. " They do cut corners, they do go...


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/18/2006


I used Simpson Meta 20 Connectors, and have a couple of extras I am looking at right now.

1) These are embedded into the concrete - we wet set them. They have a line marked on the connector that shows the depth they should be embedded into the concrete. 

2) If you wish to set them prior to pouring, you can tie them into the top level of rebar - this is a considerably stronger connection but makes finishing the top course more difficult because you have to work around these every 16-24". Even not tied into the top course of rebar, the pullout strength is considerably higher than a typical hurricane clip nailed in to the top plate.

3) How do you use these in conjunction with a top plate? If you look at these, they have an application, and a top plate doesn't look like it would be easy.

4) How would you use these without casting them into the concrete? Once again when you hold one in your hand, the application and how they work is obvious.  There is no easy way to use this connector properly without it being cast into the concrete.

5) The reason I used the Meta 20 connectors was both for cost savings (I eliminated the top plate, this saved over $600 in materials alone) and better construction (my wind resistance on my trusses went up considerably simply based on the connection to the wall). Anytime I can build better for less cost, it is a no-brainer decision.

6) Here is the Simpson product sheet, including drawing, uplift load table, and other relevant information. You will notice it shows use without a top plate, embedded into the concrete -


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By Tom in Orange City, FL on 1/18/2006


Kenneth,

Thanks for the link to Simpsons site. I couldn't find these, but now I realize I use them all the time on commercial buildings I build. We call them hurricane straps. The only problem is you MUST make sure you are "DEAD ON" when you wet set them. I have had subs install them an inch or two off in the past and if they do it early enough, all of the straps can be off center and it can cause undue delays and additional work. Make sure you have them O.C. as called for in your truss plans.

Tom


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 1/19/2006


Tom is correct, you want them properly set, as once they are embedded into the concrete, you aren't going to move them later. Please note that if you use them, make sure your truss template and where you mark the walls for placement is not the center of the trusses, but the edge of the trusses. It seems like a small detail, but there are no provisions to strap through the middle of the trusses. My entire roof shifted slightly (straps set on center of the truss template, not on edge), although you wouldn't notice it by looking. This is one of those things I learned after doing this the first time.


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By Alvin in FL on 1/19/2006


We marked the placement of the trusses on the wall near the top edge with a line where the strap will go and an x where the truss will set, just like you would mark the top and bottom plate of a framed wall where you are going to place a stud. This way, when the job is done and the concrete is still wet, you can walk around the perimeter of the walls and make sure there is a strap sticking up at every line and make sure they are all in the correct place. If something is missing or out of place, you still have time to correct it. Even if things end up an inch or two off as Kenneth found out, it is not a big deal, as it will never be noticed. The code allows for the trusses to be off by a margin of error of more than one inch in any direction when they are manufactured.

I would also suggest that you put two straps, one on each side of the truss, in all areas where the wind load stress will be higher such as where porches, carports or garages connect to the house. When strong wind gets up under these areas, their uplift force is much stronger than the rest of your house and this is where your roof will start tearing off.

I strongly suggest that you get a strap nailer to nail all of the straps to the trusses with. There can be upwards of 20 nails in each strap and it will take you forever to hand nail them as it will be awkward and tight quarters where they attach. You can nail off a whole house in an hour or two with the strap nailer and it can take you a couple of days hand nailing them.

In my area, all trusses are pre-made from the plans and are on the job site as soon as the foundation is ready. This way, the trusses can be set as soon as the walls are up and you can get everything dried in as quickly as possible. If you don't already have your pre-trusses made and have the template of where they all go, you could not use Simpson straps, as you would not know where to place them.

I have read on this site that in some areas of the country, the trusses are not manufactured until the walls of the house are up, since they measure the actual house instead of doing the engineering from the plans. In this instance, you would need to use a different method since you would know know ahead of time where the trusses would go.

Alvin

 


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By Alvin in FL on 1/19/2006


I walked out to the house and took these pictures. One of them shows the markings that were on the wall for the placement of the strap and the truss, and the other shows the straps and all of the nails in them. The straps wrap around the truss and is nailed to it on both sides.

Alvin


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