It's been a long long month of staring at these footers wishing there were walls on them. It's been raining and raining and raining.
But on Monday, this truck showed up, and the wait was all worth it.
Two homes worth of ARXX blocks were unloaded in no time at all.
But it wasn't just the ARXX blocks that got delivered.
More than Just Blocks
Everything that we would need to get started came out of that truck. Remember that - I do mean EVERYTHING. This is the bracing system, and instead of having to invest in your own, we rented them from Phil, Alaska's ARXX extraordinaire.
When the truck left, Phil said, I'll see you tomorrow. Phil lives 100 miles away.
But that didn't stop him from showing up and teaching us to fish for an entire day.
We started by snapping chalk lines for the foundation in a giant 44x44 foot square.
Then we laid out the first course of blocks, getting the corner blocks placed, lining the outsides of the blocks up with the chalk lines.
How easy is that?
Then on the first course of ARXX blocks, you simply zip tie the blocks together on the insides to keep the different blocks together and tight. How tight? I swear to you the answer was "Banjo tight." When no one was looking, I tried to pick a tune on one.
I'd better stick to building. Or at least get block to building.
Because this is what things looked like for everyone else not trying to pick a tune on a zip tie. Everyone was working hard. Everyone.
Okay, you heard it from the source, it's pretty easy.
This is my father-in-law Tim. He's a very intelligent and experienced builder. I can remember when we were framing our house's roof, he would get off work at around 5PM and come over to help us. Then around 10PM he would ask me to make him a thermos of coffee, and then drive over and help his other son (who worked late shifts then) frame his place until who knows how early, and then get up a 6AM and go to work. He did this until both homes had a roof on them.
We are very fortunate to have the support of family. It truly is everything, and we are very thankful.
I won't keep Phil all to ourselves. I want to share with you as much technical information as possible so you could build your own ARXX home too.
What we got here is a corner. The blocks are all zip tied together, and then rebar is layed in the webbing strips. You will know how much rebar and what size from recommendations by your building codes or a structural engineer (you gotta build to your conditions). The rebar turns a corner and overlaps 40D which means 40 x the diameter of your rebar. This is #4 rebar (rebar is numbered in 1/8" increments, for example 5/8" diameter rebar would be called #5) so we got 1/2" diameter rebar. That would mean the overalap needs to be 20".
One of the most challenging parts is learning to not grab the tape measure for everything. When you stick frame, you use a tape for everything. For ARXX blocks, you know the webbing strips are spaced on 8" centers, so you can just count 2 1/2 webbing strips and know you've got 20". How smart is that? Working smarter, not harder.
I kept thinking that all day. Work smarter, not harder.
Phil instructed us to move the blocks inside the perimeter of the Momplex so you placing your blocks at the shortest distance to your work zone, helping us work smarter not harder.
Throughout the day, Phil kept giving us little tips and tricks, pointers that would have otherwise had us scratching our heads and making guesses. Or spending hours online researching.
And I kept thinking, if someone just purchased ICF blocks and started building, it would be easy to miss a step. So glad we went with ARXX because the system and the support and the service really sets you up for success.
When the second course of blocks go up, the seams are all staggered, interlocking the blocks just like you would do with legos.
Then a simple metal hook on corners keeps the second course tight to the first course.
The blocks kept going up . . .
And by early afternoon, we had the first two courses up.
After you get your first two courses up, you need to spray foam the inside and outsides of the blocks to the footers to keep them in place. We went around the Momplex and made sure the blocks were exactly on the chalk lines, and then the Ram spray foamed the blocks to the footers. You'd be amazed at how well the spray foam holds the blocks.
But even with a good hold, up there on the hill in a high wind zone, we had to call it a day early. Before putting up any more blocks, we'd need to make sure the bracing system was installed - and that requires two more courses.
This is what we have left from putting up the first two courses of exterior walls. I just could not believe the lack of waste from building with ARXX.
Even the protective plastic sheet on the bottom of the blocks gets saved and recycled for other builders. It's interesting to think that this plastic sheet will go back to Phil, who will package it on the bottom of another set of ARXX blocks, and those ARXX blocks could get delivered to you. How cool is that?
And we got someone else cleaned up :) Two rows down . . .eleven to go!
We are so excited to be working the ARXX blocks to build the Momplex. To learn more about ARXX, you can visit their extensive website here.