Pouring Upstairs ICF Walls

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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.
Money Spent So Far: 
$55,000 + Cost of Property
Time Spent So Far: 
1120 Hours on Site + TONS of Thinking and Planning
Sponsor Box: 
Our Momplex Dream is made possible with the support of Lowes. <script type="text/javascript" src="http://ads.havenhomemedia.com/script_serve.php?st=hhm.anawhite&zn=lowes&sz=300x60" align="right" ></script>
Author Notes: 

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!
Step 1 Diagram: 
Step 1: 

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.
Step 2 Diagram: 
Step 2 Instructions: 

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.

Step 3 Diagram: 
Step 3 Instructions: 

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.

Step 4 Diagram: 
Step 4 Instructions: 

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.

Step 5 Diagram: 
Step 5 Instructions: 
Then the concrete pump truck arrived and stretched out.
Step 6 Diagram: 
Step 6 Instructions: 
Just waiting on concrete! I liked this picture because the roof will look just like this when done! Motivating!
Step 7 Diagram: 
Step 7 Instructions: 
With the number of windows, we began by pouring a first row of concrete, filling in window sills.
Step 8 Diagram: 
Step 8 Instructions: 
Good thing we had the pump truck!
Step 9 Diagram: 
Step 9 Instructions: 
Concrete is placed in the sills. Remember the sills have an opening in the middle for concrete placement. The concrete is then vibrated.
Step 10 Diagram: 
Step 10 Instructions: 
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.
Step 11 Diagram: 
Step 11: 
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.
Step 12 Diagram: 
Step 12: 
This window is complete, just waiting on the concrete to cure up!
Step 13 Diagram: 
Step 13: 
While Uncle Bill and I work on windows, the concrete continues to pour upstairs.
Step 14 Diagram: 
Step 14: 
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.
Step 15 Diagram: 
Step 15: 

Our ground crew hands up foam in precut widths.