And We Choose Walls #. . .

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 08/09/2011 - 21:41

So what walls did we end up choosing?

Was it Walls #1, the oversided legos that you fill with concrete?
Or was it Walls #2, stick framing the old fashioned way
Or did we go with Walls #3, the pricer SIPS that go up in no time at all?
Well, I'm going to tell you.  In this post.  I promise.

Our New General Contractor

But I want to share with you something else first.  You need to meet the REAL business mind behind the Momplex, the General Contractor will all the smarts.
This is the Momplex as we last saw it (then sans rebar caps, thanks Tsu for caring about us!)
And this is our dentists new office.  We drive by it every time we go to town.
This spring, we broke ground for the Momplex.  This spring, they broke ground for the Dentist's Office.  We've both been at it for about three months now.  Guess who's starting to worry about getting a roof overhead before winter?
Grace and I went to the post office the other night, and she said, "Mom, guess why the dentist office is getting built way faster than the Momplex?"
"Why is that honey?" I asked, wondering what my preschooler's mind is up to now.
"Because they have a whole crew of guys working all the time.  Mom, you and Dad should hire a crew, then you could get the Momplex done fast like the dentist office!"
I didn't say much, not wanting to stress a four year old's peace with budget and finance thoughts.  
But the next day, the hubs said "You will never believe what Grace told me."
And then he repeated the same story, of how she brought up the idea of hiring a crew of help to get the Momplex done.
"But here's the best part," the Ram said.  "I told her that Mom and I don't have alot of money to hire a crew, and we are trying to do everything ourselves to save money."
"But we have lots of money!" said Grace.  "There's a whole coin jar in the laundry room with money in it!"
How generous of you honey, to share your coin jar.  Bless her little mind, so innocent and positive, and generous heart, willing to give up what she considers "alot of money" (and her ice cream cone fund) for a house for Grandma.

And We Choose Walls Number . . .

Walls #1 - the ICFs!
I'm so encouraged that many of you readers were hoping we choose ICFs.  By no means would we have gone wrong with SIPS, it's just that the expense was higher and we would not be able to DIY as much, or stick framing, although there are better insulating building techniques (like SIPS and ICFs) available now.
We ultimately choose the ICFs because 
  • They are very DIYable - as in Grace and I can stack blocks unassisted all day long
  • They have a concrete core, so on the windy hill at the Momplex, there will not be drafts
  • Considering all costs, very comparable to stick framing
  • We loved the superior insulating values (remember, we are making green building choices when possible) 
  • The versatility of the blocks.  You can basically build anything that you want with these blocks, including arches and radius corners.
  • Finishing out the interior and exterior walls is easy to do
  • It's a complete system, well thought out to make every step of building easy and more efficient.
But what really sold us on the ICFs was ARXX blocks, a company that produces ICFs, and the complete system they created to enable most any DIYer to stack their own ICFs.  Because we want to go all the way up, two stories, with the ARXX Blocks, to get all the energy saving benefits.  How do you keep the ARXX Blocks square as you pour concrete in them?  How do you adjust for square after the concrete is poured and the wall bulges out?
ARXX has thought of it all. With the ARXX system, we will be doing five steps in one, also saving us tons of time.
  • Structure
  • Insulation
  • Vapor Barrier
  • Sound Proof
  • Fastening Strips
Here's a little run down of what you'll be seeing us do over the next few weeks.
We've already got the footing in place.  Believe it or not, that is actually a huge step.
Then you simply snap blocks together just like you are building legos! 
For all windows and doors you can use ARXX window bucks or build your own out of wood.
We'll be using the wood bucks just because it's more familiar to us (surprise, we like to work with boards!) and it's just a wood box that you build and it actually becomes the frame for the window and stays - so no waste there!
This is what I was referring to about the bracing.  Not only is it sturdy and adjustable, meaning you can square up walls until the concrete sets, but it also acts as scaffolding so you can work on the upper parts of the walls.  How brilliant is that?!?
There's going to be LOTS of rebar . . . but the cool thing is the center portion of the ARXX blocks has webbing that is designed to snap in rebar!  Like giant rebar chairs.  I tell you, this system is really well though out.
And one other note, my brother did a different brand of ICFs in his basement, that had foam connecting the blocks, instead of the webbing strips.  Mice ate through the foam and got into their basement because the core of the ICF was not solid concrete.  
And then you add your service penetrations by simply cutting holes and sticking a pipe though the unfilled ICFs.  Easy easy.
And then you pour concrete!  We were at a pour site the other day, and to my surprise, it was a very well controlled, calm experience that went very well.  Left me feeling like "I could do that!"
And then you put a roof on.  We'll be ordering trusses, so that should be a quick step too.
So what do you say we tell Grace?  That we are in the game still?  Because I'll tell you this.  At the pour we visited on Friday, the guys told me they started stacking blocks for that story on Tuesday.  Three days.
When I got in the truck, I told the Ram, "I've seen the future of building.  And you don't even need a hammer."
We are very excited to be working with ARXX.  You can learn more about their ICF building technology here.  And we will of course be showing you every single step of the way as we DIY the exterior walls, so stay tuned!


John Gray (not verified)

Wed, 08/10/2011 - 12:31

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