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Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

November 8, 2011 |

Missed a Momplex Post?

We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

Momplex Stats

Money Spent So Far: 
$55,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
1120 Hours on Site + TONS of Thinking and Planning

Today is a great day for DIY. Today, we can proudly say, yes, a family can - and have - poured a concrete house. 

We are not contractors. We are not professionals. We are merely a family, just like your family, with this great dream we call the Momplex.
It is this great dream, this vision of my mother cooking Thanksgiving dinner in her very own home, of my mother-in-law finally having the perfect sewing room so she can be even more amazing with her quilts, that puts me in work overalls and layers of down and tells me that yes, you can pour concrete.
After putting the last block in place, it's time to prepare for our final concrete wall pour.
Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

First up, we put the braces up to hold the blocks in place. The braces also act as a means of plumbing the walls up - they are adjustable so you can pull or push the walls out.

We found putting up the shorter braces to be remarkably easy to do.
Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

The braces also have a scaffolding arm so dropping in rebar, and eventually the actual pour are all within easy reach. If you choose to do an ICF home, I hope you consider the ARXX blocks because the bracing system makes the whole process so much easier.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

But for the outsides of the Momplex, we borrowed scaffolding from family to brace around windows and corners. Does this look cold outside? The wind is blowing too ... brrrrr ...

But I was actually sweating hot trying to push the scaffolding through piles of snow - it's not a four wheel drive operation - or even a two wheel drive operation.

We pushed that scaffolding around all 176 feet of the Momplex, through snow drifts and down and up the hill to prepare the entire outside for the concrete pour.

It was a long, long day.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

The next morning was clear and cold. 10 degrees and a slight wind to the east.

I started off with jumping jacks to warm up. Warm up as in stop shivering, not as in getting my muscles loose :)

We will be pouring concrete today into the ARXX blocks. Because the blocks are insulated on all sides, the concrete is protected from the cold as it cures up. We've heard stories of concrete being poured on Christmas Eve at 40 below.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Then the concrete pump truck arrived and stretched out.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Just waiting on concrete! I liked this picture because the roof will look just like this when done! Motivating!

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

With the number of windows, we began by pouring a first row of concrete, filling in window sills.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Good thing we had the pump truck!

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Concrete is placed in the sills. Remember the sills have an opening in the middle for concrete placement. The concrete is then vibrated.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Then it's packed down and the window kit consisting of a piece of foam is placed over the concrete, followed by a piece of 1/2" plywood cut to the window sill size. This finishes the window itself out and keeps concrete poured above the window from leaking out the sills.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

But then with the great weight of concrete being placed over the windows, we need a brace to support the window headers. We have all this precut and I just screw in place.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

This window is complete, just waiting on the concrete to cure up!

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

While Uncle Bill and I work on windows, the concrete continues to pour upstairs.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Once the concrete is poured to the top, we go around the top and neatly screed it.

We decided not to put the top plates on - treated 2x12s with anchor bolts in them - because we are concerned that the anchor bolts would transfer cold to the concrete, resulting in concrete not curing properly. So we decided to cover the concrete in foam until it cures.

Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

Our ground crew hands up foam in precut widths.

And takes scrap pieces down and keeps them from blowing away.
Saving everyone countless trips up and down ladders
Always thinking one step ahead.  The foam is layed over the tops of the ARXX blocks, now filled with warm concrete.  We press screws through the foam into the ARXX blocks to keep the wind from blowing the foam off.
And what does our fabulous ground crew want in return for such hard work?
She finally got to stand on the scaffolding and see what was going on up there. 
We are so thrilled to write that the concrete pour - a critical step in being able to continue to work through the winter - has completed successfully and the concrete cured well!!!  
We took a few days off and are back to work today.  With your support and encouragement, we hope to continue to work on the Momplex through the winter, and although Mom might have to wait until next year to cook a Turkey in her own brand new highly efficient house, step by step, block by block, we are working hard to make that dream a reality.  Thank you for reading!

Our Momplex Dream is made possible with the support of Lowes.

Way to Go!!

I love your posts!! Keep up the inspiration and please give Grace a hug for all your readers. Way to go girl :)

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 14:33

Way to Go!!

I love your posts!! Keep up the inspiration and please give Grace a hug for all your readers. Way to go girl :)

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 14:33
clips

Go Gracie

Ana, With help like Grace you will be just fine, amazing experience for her and some priceless memories. Xx

posted by playschooldiy | on Tue, 2011-11-08 16:04

What a great helper!

I love seeing your daughter help with this. She is learning so much about family values, service, hard work, in addition to technical stuff. Just think what a can-do attitude she'll have as she matures. It's silly that I get so emotional when I don't even know you, but I tear up watching your family work so hard to make this dream come true. You are such an inspiration!

posted by Maren (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 16:13

I was on pins and needles

waiting to see if you would have to stop of the season. Its only 30s here in Washington State but Winter is coming and we all know it. It feels like it just left this year it didn't end until July and is starting again. Thanks so much for all this information its my life long dream but my husband isn't very "mechanic" so it might just continue to be a dream and admiration that I get to do.

Thanks for everything

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 18:09

My family is now hooked on

My family is now hooked on the saga of the Momplex. What a wonderful legacy for your family. What a wonderful gift for your Grace. What other 4 year old can say that she helped build a house for her grandmothers!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 19:46

My family is now hooked on

My family is now hooked on the saga of the Momplex. What a wonderful legacy for your family. What a wonderful gift for your Grace. What other 4 year old can say that she helped build a house for her grandmothers!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 19:46
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Guerrina's picture

Grace...The Best Ground Crew!

Wow, what an accomplishment! However, more inspiring and heart-warming is seeing your daughter, Grace, so willing to be involved in spite of the cold! What incredible memories she will have as well as learning she can do whatever she sets her mind to! Hoping your roof trusses make it on soon!

Ciao!

Guerrina

posted by Guerrina | on Tue, 2011-11-08 19:50

You are so inspiring! I have

You are so inspiring! I have loved watching every step in your home building process. You are incredible for continuing to work in the cold of winter!

posted by Megan A (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 20:57
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emmarosemc's picture

Awww thats going to be such a

Awww thats going to be such a valuable lesson for Grace, work hard and help out wherever possible!

posted by emmarosemc | on Tue, 2011-11-08 21:48

yes, a family can - but not any family could!

Your entire family just blows me away - your skills, camaraderie, and the 'get it done' attitude are so inspiring.

posted by Vaness (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 22:08

Thank you so much for taking

Thank you so much for taking time to share with us all of your hard work. I just love reading about this adventure.

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-11-08 22:42
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annalea's picture

No, thank YOU for building and blogging!

Ana, thank you so much for blogging about this. I've wanted to build an ICF home for a lot of years, but haven't been able to see my way through to do it. With you blogging all about this process, it has given my husband and I a bird's eye view of the whole thing, and we're planning on using ICF for the house we'll build next to our garage/apartment we're currently finishing. (Insulation in a few days, then drywall next week. Hooray!)

I'm SO GLAD you were able to complete the pour, and to know that ICF's can be filled any time of year. That's FANTASTIC!!!!

Keep up the great work . . . we're sure pulling for you here!

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. -- W. Edwards Deming

posted by annalea | on Wed, 2011-11-09 00:34
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Ana White's picture

Thank you all for your

Thank you all for your beautiful comments ... Especially those for my special helper. She doesn't always want o help out, as any preschooler would, but I hope you are right - that this experience is a great one for her. As it is for the rest of us. We truly thank you for following long. Tonight the temps dropped to twenty below zero without wind chill, and I promise you, withou your encouragement, we would have called it a winter. Can't thank you enough! Ana and family.

posted by Ana White | on Wed, 2011-11-09 02:11
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Ana White's picture

Thank you all for your

Thank you all for your beautiful comments ... Especially those for my special helper. She doesn't always want o help out, as any preschooler would, but I hope you are right - that this experience is a great one for her. As it is for the rest of us. We truly thank you for following long. Tonight the temps dropped to twenty below zero without wind chill, and I promise you, withou your encouragement, we would have called it a winter. Can't thank you enough! Ana and family.

posted by Ana White | on Wed, 2011-11-09 02:11

You're doing such a great

You're doing such a great job! It's amazing! And what a great helper you have. I can imagine how Grace saved you so much time by bringing the foam.

posted by Ainhoa (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 02:53

You simply amaze

You amaze me! I look forward to your posts and days when I say "I can't".. I remember YOU are building a house ..it helps me push through.

posted by Jodi G (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 07:33

Yay Gracie!

Way to go, Gracie! Such a big girl, and an invaluable helper today!

I love watching your progress, and am constantly blown away as your momplex comes together. It looks sooo cold up there, with the snow and all... But the blue skies are so cheerful! (they can make such a difference on a winter day) Congratulations on getting your pour completed!

posted by Robin D (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 08:38

This is awesome- I wish I

This is awesome- I wish I could help. Its such a cool thing to work with your hands and see the completed, or almost finished product. You have a lot to be proud of.

posted by Kelly Gross (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 08:41

So happy the last pour is

So happy the last pour is done!! I cannot wait to see the next step! Hang in there we're all rooting for you! Just think soon enough all this hard work in the cold and snow will pay off to cabinets and furniture over the rest of the winter and spring!

posted by Aisha (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 09:07
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ferbit's picture

I've been on pins and needles too!

I've been on pins and needles to, waiting for your next post! Thank you so much for the update! Wow... 20 below zero in October! BRRRRR!

Love that Grace got to get up on the scaffolding at the end. LOL My girls would have been beggibng to get up there too. :) :) :)

Stay warm!!!


posted by ferbit | on Wed, 2011-11-09 10:22

I didn't believe

I didn't believe you could do it. In all that snow and cold and biting wind. You Alaskans are crazy driven people. Congratulations. Can't wait to see if you can get a roof on. I'm rooting for you and praying the snow holds off awhile longer.

posted by the retired mama (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 10:44

Hurray!

I've been checking every day to see your progress! So glad you were able to do the pour and that it cured well. Good job Grace on being such a big helper, I know that saved you guys a lot of time and work. Love to see people making their dreams their reality! Praying the weather holds so you can get the roof on and everything sealed and heated so you can work in more comfort all winter.

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 11:13
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claydowling's picture

Sill Plate

Since you weren't able to put the sill plate with the anchor bolts in place before curing, how do you intend to anchor it? Will you be drilling down and filling, or is there some magic I'm unaware of?

posted by claydowling | on Wed, 2011-11-09 11:44
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birdsandsoap's picture

Yeah, I was wondering the same thing too.

Does that make a lot more time consuming work for you? I understand when you're dealing with the elements you've got to make compromises, will you have to drill into se concrete all the way around? Tell Grace GOOD JOB! 4 year-olds can only hold out for so long and it looks like she completed the job just in time to check out the view from upstairs, way to go Grace!

posted by birdsandsoap | on Wed, 2011-11-09 12:42

So close to the roof! This

So close to the roof! This is exciting!

posted by Jenn Zynn (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-11-09 14:35
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Thank you

Ana, you and Gracie and all your family are amazing. Every post I read I say "how can she do that?" then it's SO cold "how can she do that" I love the pictures. Truly, I am in awe. It will be a wonderful home full of love and built with love.

posted by Barbara Cash | on Wed, 2011-11-09 14:52
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redhead_61's picture

My question

So as I read this today after a full day of tending to one 4 year old throwing up and one 2 year old that just wants to climb all over me all day, I wonder how Grace really does, and in turn how much you really get to do? I assume you guys are out there all day most days trying to get it done. I have a pretty awesome 4 year old but there are time when I feel like she would have me sit with her nonstop if it were up to her. I am impressed if YOU actually get to get work done on those long days.

Good Luck and keep it up. You are making me feel all Christmas-y

posted by redhead_61 | on Wed, 2011-11-09 21:43
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Addie's picture

I usually just lurk...

but you have lured me out with this one. I just had to congratulate you on the pour.
I'm down in Virgina, marveling at your family, and wishing you the best.

posted by Addie | on Thu, 2011-11-10 13:40

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