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CMU drystack info

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Scott's Forum Posts: 1

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By Scott in Austin, TX on 9/6/2009

First, a "thank you" to everyone for all the posted information which I've been perusing for the past several months. My wife and I finally purchased a lot in the Leander, TX area and we're planning to join the owner-builder club.

My question: I'm evaluating the framing options and would like to know if anyone has evaluated CMU (concrete masonry unit) dry stack construction versus the more common stick, ICF, and SIP methods? So far my forum searches haven't located any CMU dry stack info.

From my own experience and readings to date, it seems the traditional stick-framed house w/upgraded insulation is the front runner for our Central Texas area given the many tradeoffs including my priority to get the most bang for the buck.

I was hoping that someone might have already "run the numbers" for CMU dry stack and possibly found this construction to be competitive with the stick-built house. Given I'm retired and willing/planning to contribute some sweat equity, thought the CMU dry stack might lend itself to the DIY builder plus provide a superior finished product.

Thank you in advance for any info/guidance you might be able to provide.



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By DCG in Lago Vista, TX on 9/8/2009

Scott, I'm just down the road from you.

I did not investigate CMU dry stack - so I can't answer that question. I'd encourage you to consider:

1) The design of your home.  A home designed specifically for SIP block sizes or ICF design may have a cost advantage over a home design that wasn't done with these considerations.  In your case, you're going to want to design for the cost of your concrete stacks.  Just removing the cost of custom concrete or reducing the number of angles can be a big help.

2) Don't compare the cost of framing to the cost of SIP/ICF/CMU.  When I was shopping, the SIP guys would tell me that I'd "save" money by reducing construction time.  Reduced construction time was probably true, but my costs for plumbing and electricity were way, way, up - skills required to put plumbing in SIP panels were way, way, up over the quasi-skilled subcontractors operating under a master plumber (who was almost never on site) doing stick and brick.

3) Consider the costs of bringing in equipment (if necessary).  I know we burned $500 just for a single-hour crane deal installing a roof-mounted hot water heater. 

My advice is to get your design dialed in as close as possible and then send your plans out to bid with contractors all the way to a pre-finish-out stage.  I love ICF & SIP homes, I just couldn't afford to build the one I wanted...


Jerry's Forum Posts: 1

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By Jerry on 10/15/2009


All the info you need is here:

I was looking into dry stack also, and this is by far the best information source I found.


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