Footings – Our House Has Feet!

I must say, it’s quite strange to actually see progress on our new home.  We waited so long to get our plans drawn and approved (almost 2-1/2 years) that we can’t believe it’s actually happening!

We pinch each other periodically 😉

Building with faswall

Ray used his blower to remove the leaves and pine needles that had drifted into the footings before anyone arrived to the build site.

As mentioned in a previous post (breaking ground), we contracted with The Reynoso Brothers to do the concrete work for our house, and after our first inspection of rebar in the footings we passed with flying colors!  I’ll talk about our “Special Inspections” in a future post, but for now we were good to go for the concrete pour!   Yay!

Building with FaswallWe were scheduled to have the footings poured on a Friday.  The perfect ending to a great week.  The first truck came around 12:30 in the afternoon and ended up driving right past our gate.  Oh no!  Driving past our gate wasn’t his biggest problem.  The biggest problem is that we live at the head of a private dead end road, and down the lane are a couple of fairly large marijuana farms!   The cement truck driver would have to basically turn around in a marijuana grow.   Luckily, it’s toward the end of harvest season and most of the crop is already in the drying sheds, but still…

The driver made it back up the road just fine, but laughed about his “adventure”.   That’s California for you!

Anyway, they eventually got the cement truck backed up to the concrete pumper, and soon enough concrete from the first truck was flowing into the footings.

This is the moment the first drop of cement went into the footings! So Exciting!

Speaking of the concrete pumper…Building Faswall Footings

I had to laugh about it’s name.  Putzmeister.  Hahaha, who came up with that one?  I’ll tell you, though, it did a great job.  So did the Reynoso Bros!

Faswall Footings

This is what the footings looked like before the guys smoothed over the finish.

Then came a slight hiccup.

Five trucks of cement had been ordered, but it wasn’t enough.  We needed another truck!  Five truckloads of cement with 9 yards in each truckload wasn’t enough for the footings!  Luckily they realized they would need another truck, and ordered it right away, even before the fifth truck was being off-loaded, so although we live 1 hour from the concrete plant, the wait for the final delivery of concrete wasn’t too bad.

Faswall Footings

The delivery driver from Spec West delivering some of the rebar. Three tons of it! Whew!

Now, I will say that everyone who has been to our build site and has seen these footings – how deep and wide they are and the amount of rebar in them – have said that it is total over kill.  Everyone.  We have also studied other Faswall builds with on-line blogs and pictures that have far smaller footings and a lot less rebar in both the footings and the walls and have wondered why ours requires so much more. But, we have to trust what our engineer calculated and designed, and the building plans inspector approved.  If you can’t trust the work of licensed professionals, who can you trust…right?

Anyway, here they are in all their glory!

Aren’t they glorious?  We had to keep them moist for the next few days so that they would cure without cracking, and so we watered them three times a day for five days.  We were watering our footings more than we watered our garden!

On that fifth day, we couldn’t wait to start putting up the walls!

From everything we have read on the Faswall instructions and other Faswall builds, the first course is the hardest but the most important.  Why?  Because the first row needs to be absolutely, positively, perfectly level.

Luckily, Ray is good at that sort of thing.  Yay!

First we had to determine where the high spots and low spots on the footings were, and which corner was the lowest and which was the highest.

Guess what? The footings were perfectly level.

I mean to say, there couldn’t have been more than 1/16th of an inch difference over the entire course of footings!  The skill of the Reynoso Bros and their crew made our lives so much easier!Faswall stemwall

We bought 10 sacks of mortar mix and started at the southeast corner. It wasn’t long before we got into a rhythm and had half that wall done.  When laying Faswall, you MUST start in the corners and work your way toward the center, so when almost we reached the center point, we started setting the Faswall on the other corner working in to meet at the center of the wall.  The second corner didn’t go as quickly because this was where we have one of the structural walls engineered into the build.  You can see in the picture above that we cut the end out of the corner block. More would be cut later when we started working on that wall.  We then used a high strength, low VOC glue and glued all the ends together as we set them into the mortar.  I will post pictures soon about cutting and glueing and screwing Faswall.  We also had one of these structural walls (called SW2 in the plans) in the middle of the wall, but that one didn’t seem as difficult because it wasn’t on a corner.  When this section of wall is infilled with concrete, we will have to support these walls with plywood and 2 x 4’s.

How is it to cut the Faswall?  Well, let me tell you, we were worried in the beginning about how we were going to do some of these cuts, but we were promised by the Faswall guys – Tom and Paul – that the blocks cut just like regular wood.

Cutting Faswall Blocks

You don’t need any special tools to work with Faswall. They cut, nail and screw into just like wood.

They do.  Maybe a bit easier.  Ray used his Sawzall and cut through these blocks like butter!  But, the truth is, once the blocks were cut, they became fairly fragile. This may become a problem later in the build, because we also noticed that the blocks seem to be a bit more fragile when they are wet, also, and we hoped to get our walls up this winter… rain or shine.  So, the jury is out on that one.  One caution:  You MUST wear eye protection when cutting the Faswall!  Look at the all the debris in the picture above…’nuf said.

We ended up getting all four walls done in four days.  Boy were we sore and glad to see that last block set!Faswall Footings

Our next task is to get the second row on, then call the plumber back so he can get the stuff that needs to be in the walls (vents, water lines, gas lines) set, so we can build the blocks around them.  We will also have the electrician come up and give us some recommendations about where to put everything.

Footings for Faswall

First layer of Faswall Done! This is actually the Stem wall and once the concrete slab and perimeter porches and sidewalks are poured, you won’t even see it!

One final note.  As my readers know, I have always tried to write down EVERYTHING in this blog, including the good, the bad and the ugly, so I must say one thing.  It’s a bit difficult to say, because I have had so much faith in building our home with Faswall.  But, I have to be honest because I know several of you who have written to me and have stated you are considering also building with Faswall, so here goes…

It looks like Faswall has dropped us off their contact list.  You see, Paul is supposed to be the “go-to” guy for any questions while building, but Ray and I have each had a question in to Paul – one by text and one by e-mail – and we have yet to hear back.

It’s been more than a week. :-/

We’ll see what happens and I’ll let you know.  Until then, have a great Thanksgiving!

My party list:  Thank Goodness It’s MondayGrand SocialMix It Up MondayCreate, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me Monday,  Over The MoonHearth and Soul;  Show & Share Tuesday;  Brag About ItTuesdays with a TwistThe Scoop;  Inspire Me TuesdaysTuesdays at Our Home;  Party In Your PJ’s;  Make, Bake and Create;   Wined Down Wednesday;  Fluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog HopWow Us Wednesday;  Waste Less WednesdayAIM LinkyTalk of the TownHealthy,Happy & NaturalOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday;  Homemaking Party;  This Is How We RollNo Rules Weekend PartyBlogger’s Pit StopFriendship Friday;  Family Fun Friday;  Awesome Life Friday;  Home MattersTraffic Jam Weekend; Friday FeaturesSaturday Sparks;  Dare to ShareScraptastic Saturday;  Happiness is HomemadeAnything Goes Pink SaturdaySimple Saturdays; Saturday ShuffleThat DIY Party;  Snickerdoodle SundayDishing it & Digging It


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17 thoughts on “Footings – Our House Has Feet!

  1. Looking good guys…You will have to explain to me what the Faswell is. Im sorry there not answering your text or email. That is so frustrating.. keep posting on here so much fun to watch…Happy Thanksgiving..Ronda

    • Faswall is the name of the blocks we are using, and they are made by a company called Shelterworks. I can’t wait for you and Leonard to get back up here to see our progress, but right now we are knee deep in mud! Let’s hope someone from Faswall answers our questions, and soon! It is very frustrating, but we are giving them a few more days of grace before we REALLY get angry. They promised us they would be available for the entire build, but, of course, that was almost three years ago 🙁 Have a great Thanksgiving!

    • Thank you so much for your good wishes, Natalie! I’m sure we will hear back from one of the Faswall guys soon, because I still have some faith in them, but we’ll see. I’m not holding my breath. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Hi, enjoy reading about your adventures! I am very interested in your Faswall project as I am in the middle of building a small building with Faswall. I hope it goes well for you. Plan to complete the block part of the build in the next couple of weeks, then on to the roof, Windows and doors. I’ll continue to read with great interest!

    • Good morning, Michael, and thank you so much for commenting! I would love to hear how your build is going, and I have questions and more questions for you!! If you would like to converse in private, please let me know and I will send you my e-mail address! My intention with this blog has been and will always be to show other people how we are gearing toward a more sustainable life, and our Faswall Home is the centerpiece of that goal. Because of that, I aim to show almost Everything we do, so that if someone wanted to build the same house plan as us, they would basically have an “instruction manual” right here in my posts. Any help or advice you can give us (and anyone else reading this blog) would be greatly appreciated! Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Hi Vickie,
        Yes, we are planning to build also and the Faswall pump house/shed is an experiment to see if the product would work out for us for an entire house. I am not done yet, but am up to the point where I need to build the bucks for the window and door openings. I would be glad to tell of my experience with this product so far. Feel free to e-mail me and I can go into more specific detail. Have a Great Thanksgiving!

  3. Hello Vickie,
    it’s going well with your new home.
    We always like to read your beautiful posts and look forward to seeing you.
    We think it’s great that you do that.
    Best wishes also to Ray
    Uwe and Angi

    • Thank you, Uwe and Angi! One day when our new home is finished I hope you will come to visit! On Thursday, here in the states, we will have Thanksgiving dinner. Though you live in Germany and do not celebrate Thanksgiving, I will wish you a wonderful, happy day anyway! Hugs!

  4. Vickie,
    Hooray for footings! Now let’s just keep having faith that Faswall will”stand” behind their word (see what I did there, lol) and help you continue to get things up and running. Regardless, I hope you, Ray, and your family have the best Thanksgiving ever. Even though struggles abound and the world seems to have gone off it’s nut, there is SO much to be thankful for. Especially blogging pen pals. 😊 Happy Thanksgiving friend!
    With warm regards,

    • Happy Thanksgiving right back at you! I love your little pun on words…very clever! I agree about the state of this world right now. Crazy. What’s strangest to me is that everyone talks about it, but it seems nothing is done about it. People are getting more and more interested in themselves and no one else. What happened to manners? What happened to caring about one another? And, regarding our current plight, what happened to customer service? Ah – I could easily make this blog my soapbox, but I won’t.;) Back on a better note, I seriously wish you and yours the best holiday ever! Hugs!

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