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 ūüėČ

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 РTom and Paul Рthat 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 Monday; Grand Social; Mix It Up Monday; Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me Monday,  Over The Moon, Hearth and Soul;  Show & Share Tuesday;  Brag About It; Tuesdays with a Twist; The Scoop;  Inspire Me Tuesdays; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Party In Your PJ’s;  Make, Bake and Create;   Wined Down Wednesday;  Fluster’s Creative Muster;  Homestead Blog Hop; Wow Us Wednesday;  Waste Less Wednesday; AIM Linky; Talk of the Town, Healthy,Happy & Natural; Our Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday;  Homemaking Party;  This Is How We Roll; No Rules Weekend Party; Blogger’s Pit Stop; Friendship Friday;  Family Fun Friday;  Awesome Life Friday;  Home Matters; Traffic Jam Weekend; Friday Features; Saturday Sparks;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic Saturday;  Happiness is Homemade; Anything Goes Pink Saturday; Simple Saturdays; Saturday Shuffle; That DIY Party;  Snickerdoodle Sunday; Dishing it & Digging It


Breaking Ground!

After years of waiting, worrying and wondering if we would EVER get our building permit, we are proud to announce that we have finally broken ground!

Building an ICF house

First things first… removing this cute little tree. I really wanted to save it, but unfortunately it would have been in the way of the heavy equipment and probably too close to the house.

                            WAHOO!       YIPPEE!        HOORAY!

The first step in building our new home is to form massive concrete footings for the foundation of the very heavy concrete walls.  We are using the Reynoso Brothers as our concrete contractor because we have been extremely happy with the work they have done on our building site so far.  Last year they prepared the building site quickly and efficiently, on time and at a reasonable cost, so it was a no brainer to have them back.

building a Faswall home

These footings will be three feet wide and two feet deep, with lots and lots of rebar!

The heavy equipment they brought seemed to be overkill at first, but then when I saw the size of the trenches they were digging, I understood.  The footings will be massive!

The tractors made digging through our clay dirt seem like a knife through butter.¬† Well… almost.¬† Until they hit a¬†huge rock right at the back corner of where our patio will be.¬† Luckily, it was a soft rock (sedimentary?) and the excavator was able to actually scrape most of the rock away.

Once the trenches were dug for the footings, they began defining the upper edges with some 2 x 6’s.¬† They used a laser on a tripod to get everything perfect, and the picture on the left shows what they were able to accomplish after just one day of work!

Then the rebar was installed.¬† Holy cannoli… 3 tons of rebar!

No joke.  Really.  Three tons!

Building a Faswall house

These are two guys from Reynoso Bros bending rebar.  Can you see the pile of rebar next to them?  Let me tell you, their work was cut out for them!

With all the concrete and metal that is going into this house, I truly believe it will last

F.  O.  R.  E.  V.  E.  R.

Once all the footings were dug and most of the rebar installed, it was time to set the rough plumbing.  For minimal intrusion into the Faswall itself, we decided to set the plumbing for the kitchen sink, the toilet in the 1/2 bath and the urinal in the master bathroom under the slab.

“Urinal?” you say?¬† Why yes!¬† No more fretting about poor aiming and no more seat up/down wars! Can you tell I’m a mother of four boys (including my husband). ūüėČ

Building a Faswall ICF House

I designed the house so that all the plumbing would be in one area. Originally I was going to have the kitchen sink closer to all the bathrooms, but I wanted to have a window over the sink, so it ended up being the only plumbing that was not in a 15 foot square area. Oh well.

Juan from ACE Plumbing and his crew did most of the work in one day, which was impressive.¬† Except…

The toilet was put in the wrong spot, and so was the freestanding bathtub.  You see, building a house with ICF is a lot different than building a stick-built house.  In our ICF home, the blocks themselves are exactly 2 feet long, with 1/2 blocks being 1 foot long (well, duh).

A Faswall Block. This one happens to be a corner block, which is why the insulation is in an “L” shape on one side. The blocks are 2 feet long, 12 inches thick and 8 inches high.

Anyway, because of that, when designing an ICF house, windows and doors are placed exactly on whole feet and not partial feet.  So, when the two foot wide bathroom window will start 14 feet from the corner of the house, with the toilet centered right underneath, the toilet needs to be centered on 15 feet.  Get it?

Well,¬†only having built stick houses before, they figured they would center the toilet on the wall, and the window could be built centered over the toilet. That’s the normal thing to do.¬† But we needed to have just the opposite.¬† They needed to center the toilet under where the window will be!

So, when we explained this to Juan, he had his crew up that very afternoon to fix the problem!  Yay!

One thing dear hubby and I have been doing is testing and checking, checking and testing everything!¬† That’s how we knew the toilet wasn’t right.¬† We put the Faswall block exactly where it will be placed on the footing, then measured twice from corner to corner, and toilet to corner, then bathtub to corner, etc.¬† I know that sounds a bit nit-picky, but the truth is that WE are acting as our own contractor and in the end WE are the only ones responsible.¬† So, it’s better to check and make adjustments now, before any concrete is poured!

Insulated Concrete Form building

The Southeast corner of our future Faswall home temporarily in place.

So, now you ask… what’s next?

Inspection!¬† Yup.¬† Our first inspection.¬† We are a bit nervous, though I don’t know why.¬† The two contractors we have had on site so far are experts in their field and are fully licensed, so we shouldn’t have any problems.¬† (Famous last words?)

Insulated Concrete Forms

When we pass our first inspection, we will celebrate with this bottle of wine our good friends Ronda and Leonard gave us. Cheers!

In the meantime, I have been moving my green plastic chair around in the house, pretending I am looking out this window or that window, getting a feel of what it will look like, and dreaming…..

Faswall ICF building

The chair is where our covered, screened in patio will be. Ahhhhhhh

Blog parties:¬†Thank Goodness It’s Monday;¬†Grand Social;¬†Mix It Up Monday;¬†Create, Link, Inspire; ¬†Amaze Me Monday,¬†¬†Over The Moon;¬†Show & Share¬†Tuesday;¬†The Gathering Spot;¬†Brag About It;¬†Tuesdays with a Twist;¬†The Scoop;¬†Two Cup Tuesday; ¬†Inspire Me Tuesdays;¬†Tuesdays at Our Home; ¬†Party In Your PJ’s;¬†Make, Bake and Create;¬†¬†¬†Wined Down Wednesday; ¬†Fluster’s Creative Muster; ¬†Homestead Blog Hop;¬†Wow Us Wednesday; ¬†Waste Less Wednesday;¬†AIM Linky;¬†Talk of the Town,¬†Healthy,Happy & Natural;¬†Our Simple Homestead;¬†Share Your Cup Thursday; ¬†Home and Garden Thursday; ¬†Think Tank Thursday;¬†¬†Homemaking Party; ¬†This Is How We Roll;¬†No Rules Weekend Party;¬†Friendship Friday; ¬†Family Fun Friday; ¬†Awesome Life Friday; ¬†Home Matters;¬†Traffic Jam Weekend¬†;¬†Saturday Sparks; ¬†Dare to Share;¬†Scraptastic Saturday; ¬†Happiness is Homemade;¬†Anything Goes Pink Saturday;¬†Simple Saturdays;¬†That DIY Party; ¬†Snickerdoodle Sunday;¬†Dishing it & Digging It

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