We have been spending the last month getting our Faswall ICF (Insulated concrete form) blocks from a yard in the valley where they were delivered, up to our build site. We finally got all 30 pallets delivered so far (2-3 more are to be delivered soon) up to our build site.
We were able to bring only two pallets up to our site at a time due to weight issues, so we had to make fifteen trips. During the time we were getting our block, we have endured two flat tires on the trailer and an evacuation due to a wildfire near our ridge! This is one of the biggest reasons we are building with Faswall… they don’t like to burn!
It was scarier at night when you could see the red glow of the fire. The sparks made it look like molten lava. The good news is that we are blessed to have some of the best firefighters around, so we only had to endure a couple of days of evacuation and everything turned out just fine… at least for us. My heart goes out to all those who lost their homes. We also bought construction insurance, because you just never know!
We separated the blocks into type, and put each type on a different location at the building site, so that when we are actually building the walls it will be easier to retrieve the proper block/blocks. The whole Faswall system of blocks includes several different types. We aren’t using all they have available because, for instance, we only will be using outside corners, no inside corners.
As you can see, it’s similar to a concrete (CMU) block in shape. Faswall blocks are 24” long, 8” high and 12” width. In the standard block, there is a 3” polyisocyanate insulation insert, which is the one pictured above. We will be using standard blocks with 2” insulation inserts as well. The smaller inserts leave more room in the voids, which means there will be more concrete, so you get an even stronger wall. You can see the ends of the block have an interlocking shape, which stabilizes the block wall and helps to prevent “blow-outs” when the concrete is poured into the forms. The blocks are “dry stacked” on each other in a running bond fashion, to about 4-5 feet high, which is called a “lift”. Once a lift is stacked, concrete is poured into the forms, which in effect creates a grid of concrete in the walls.
The picture above shows two standard blocks stacked on each other, so you can see the horizontal void where concrete flows to form the grid. Of course, as we are stacking, we add rebar in the voids, which adds to the strength of the concrete walls. The blocks will be placed in a running bond pattern, much like CMU blocks. When the walls are completely done and cured, they will be extremely strong, fire resistant, pest resistant and energy efficient.
I truly believe this house is going to be standing for hundreds of years!
Then there are the end blocks. These blocks do not have the interlocking shape on both sides, but instead just one side. These are used at the windows and doors. When the walls are all done and it’s time to put in the windows and doors, they are installed just like you would install into a wood framed house. You see, Faswall IS made of wood… just mineralized with concrete and a special process to make it very fire resistant! That’s why when it is necessary to cut a form, we use regular wood cutting tools, like a circular saw or a Sawzall. And when installing doors and windows, you can nail and screw right into the walls!
You can see there are the interlocking ribs on the end and one side so that the interlocking ribs from another block fits right in, making a perfect corner!
The last blocks that we will require are the all purpose blocks. These can easily be cut in half and used wherever a half block is needed, especially around windows and doors as a half end block. Since the blocks are set in a running bond fashion, we will need one of these half blocks every other row.
We were happy to find, in the end, only seven blocks total that were damaged. I think that’s pretty good considering the almost two thousand blocks that we got so far. We were talking with a friend who recently build his “stick” house (conventional wood frame) and said he had to return a lot of lumber that was twisted and/or warped or just plain unuseable. We have already verified that these broken blocks will be added to our last shipment, which will be soon.
So far, I’m glad we are building with these ICF forms and the company we chose. We’ll see how things go in the future.
When do we start?
The guys setting up the forms for the footings are supposed to be here today, but in reality we don’t expect to see them until next week. Once the footings are poured, we can start setting blocks!
I am just over the moon excited!
I can’t wait to show you our progress!
In the meantime, I need to get a new pair of gloves. These building blocks bite! I have to say that the one downside we have found so far is that the blocks are very sharp and will tear your clothes and skin if you are not careful. That’s the bad news… which is also the good news! The good news is that they are rough, which makes it much easier and cheaper to stucco the outside and plaster the inside!
What else have we been doing? I’ll show you in the next post!
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