Our Building Blocks


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.

Unloading the Faswall blocks on our building 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!

And here they are:

And here:

And over here too:

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.

The “standard” block looks like this:Building with Faswall ICF

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.

Cool, huh?

Building with Faswall ICF 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.  Building with FaswallThese 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!

The corner blocks are used for, well, corners!

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.

The all purpose blocks are made to easily be cut in half and used where needed.  For us, we will be using these at the windows and doors.

faswall ICF corner blockWe 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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13 thoughts on “Our Building Blocks

  1. Thanks for sharing, Vickie. What made you all choose the Faswall as opposed to ICFs made out of foam?

    And I have gone through nearly three pair of gloves since we started building in April (rebar is nearly as bad as you describe these blocks!). I threw the 1st pair away, but from here on out I am going to keep each pair as they wear out and see how many I go through. I’ll probably end up hanging them in the tool shed as a weird garland. But hey, worn out gloves means protected hands. And it means that you’ve been working hard. Something to be proud of.

    • Hahaha – great idea! I am going to save my gloves also! Actually, we usually put gorilla tape on the tears and they last a few more work days, but I’m sure we will be going through lots and lots of gloves before it’s all said and done. I just love your humor and quirky ideas.

      We chose the Faswall ICF (Durablock ICF is similar) because of their superior fire and pest resistance, but also because the blocks perform just like wood when nailing or screwing into them. With the foam/plastic ICF, you must screw into the block only where the metal furring strips lay, which can be a logistical problem. The foam/plastic ICF are also known for forming condensation on the inside because of their plastic make-up, whereas Faswall breathes, preventing mold and poor indoor air quality. You would think that I am a salesperson or are compensated by them for saying this, but I am not. I have just done a lot of research and found that these blocks are the right fit for us!

      Hopefully this winter won’t be as wet as the last, for both of us, and we will be able to build our homes without too many delays!

    • Thank you, Debbie! We think it will take about two years to get everything done and the final from our building department, so the journey has just begun. Some day I would love to have you over for a visit so we could actually meet in person… as long as you bring your fur babies! 😉

  2. That’s some hard but no doubt very rewarding work. A very interesting and entertaining post and life changing project. Thanks for the opportunity to take a peek 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 Linked up next to you at Blogger Pit Stop

    • Yes, it is truly a life changing project! We are so happy and anxious to get started…finally! Some day I will be decorating and fussing over the walls in my new home, just as you in your latest post, and maybe I can call you for advice! Thanks for stopping by, Tracey. Have a great weekend!

    • Good morning, Roseann! This really is a neat system to build a home. Stay with us and you will see the process as we build, so you can determine for yourself if this is something you want to do. Thanks for hosting the party at the Blogger’s Pit Stop!

  3. Wow, you have been so busy, that is quite a job getting them all up there. Fires certainly are scary and I feel so bad for anyone having to deal with that! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    • Seriously, Jann, you should see my biceps! 😉 Both of the wildfires we have had to deal with this year have been scary, but we have been blessed to not be in the direct path of either one. Still, evacuations are not easy for anyone, whether it be from wildfire or hurricane or flood. Thank you so much for stopping by today!